Friday, October 26, 2018

PFC #5 - Life at the Waterhole

Intro: A Non-Event at the Waterhole

Spiritual Applications: The Holy Spirit is like the Water buffalo – sees the enemy, defends us – often without our awareness.
Problem: What about the times this doesn’t Happen? Sometimes bad stuff happens to good people. What then?

Angelo – born to an unwed mother, his father paid to have a midwife poison him. The poison caused him to have seizures but didn’t kill him. His mother, shamed and embarrassed by her sick child, sold him to a rich man who used him to look after his livestock while his own kids went to boarding school. From 2 years old, Angelo lived outside with the sheep, goats and cattle. Joseph’s “ladies under the ground” called him. Angelo was nearly 5 years old now and living like a wild animal. … Used Giraffe to get to him… Angelo said, “I am free here. I suck milk from the cows whenever I want. I eat berries off any bush I want.” It took two weeks to convince little Angelo there was a better life waiting for him. Now, he is an amazing young man… although he still eats grasshoppers as a quick snack whenever he can catch one!

Lekini (13) was asleep in bed next to his two brothers when seven men broke the door down and hacked his brothers to death. They left Lekini with three huge knife cuts on his head and a gash on the top of his forearm from wrist to elbow. Thinking the three boys were dead, the men went outside the house and sang a victory song before disappearing into the night.
Joseph was called and he carried the dying boy on his lap for the next 10 hours as they tried to find an open hospital which could help with such severe wounds. “Most of the skin on top of his head was hanging off the side,” Joseph said. “This boy is a miracle. He bled so much. But he is alive because of God.”
“We are taking this boy,” Carole said. “No matter what. He needs hope. We will find a sponsor. What is his English name?”
His uncle had been listening through Joseph’s translation to the meeting that afternoon. “His uncle says,” Joseph translated, “He wants his English name to be David, like you.” The old man’s sad eyes smiled at me.

“I receive a call about a child in need of rescue nearly every day,” Joseph told me. “I have 15 children in the program right now. They are fully sponsored to go to school. They have food, clothes, education and most important - they are safe.” Joseph paused and then asked, “Do you want to know how many children are on my list, right now? Children that I have verified their stories and they need safety?”
“How many?” I asked.

“One hundred and sixty-one. THAT MANY need the safety to be on the program.” Joseph studied me with his powerful Maasai stare. “Can you help me to get these sponsors, David? Is this something you can do?”
“I will try, Joseph,” I said with tears in my eyes. “I will tell your story. When western people’s hearts are touched, they are very loving, kind and generous. But, in the west, everyone is asking for money. So, we need to hear real stories to believe the money will actually help.”
“Thank you, David. Thank you, so much!”

Carole: If the Devil was defeated at the Cross, why are there such horrible things still happening? Why doesn’t God act? He knows who is evil and who is good. Why wait? If God is all powerful, why doesn’t he use that power to act now?
Me: God’s followers have a habit of getting God’s nature wrong – and teaching wrong thing about God to our children.
In OT times, a few Millennia after leaving Eden, they had warped the promise of a Messiah to mean God would send a Deliverer who would defeat the oppressors and rule with an iron rod. A Warrior King.
Now, a couple of millennia after Jesus’ return to Heaven, we are convinced Jesus came to show God’s power. If this is true – God has ultimate power - all that happens on Earth is, ultimately, His fault – part of His plan. This is a wrong view of God’s nature. This is not what Jesus came to show us about God. POWER is not God’s defining attribute. If it was, He would take control.
Carole: I see. Jesus came to show God’s love. God’s defining attribute: “God is Love!”
Me: Yes. And within the bounds of God’s perfect Love, His power lives. Love gives freedom. Freedom of choice is the ultimate expression of God’s Love. The Perfect love of God allows choices to be made and then honours those choices. But, ultimately, Love will win. God’s Love is patient. It is long-suffering. And it can be seen everywhere, while we wait.
"God is love" is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green -- all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy. (Steps to Christ 10.1)
John made a wonderful proclamation when he said, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). This means that God creates and sustains all things in love. Love is the very essence of God. No one could possibly be described as being “love” itself. Only God is completely loving because love is His very entity, nature, and character. When John writes, “God is love,” he is giving the reader the clearest, briefest, most comprehensive expression possible of the nature of God. This divine love motivated God to give His Son to this world to die for our sins. God loves and as a natural consequence of this love, He gives us: His Son, forgiveness, salvation, fellowship, and eternal life. Believers can see the love of God most clearly in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words)

The Disciples all had the wrong idea about Jesus – even though they knew Him well. When they came to the waterhole with Jesus, the Disciples knew about the Devil and his angels. They knew about the lion and the crocodiles. But, they thought Jesus’ POWER would dominate. They thought Jesus – the Deliverer, Warrior King - would walk unscathed through this world. Like an elephant at a waterhole, Jesus would be unable to be touched and would set up His Kingdom. And so they looked for POWER in the life of Jesus. And they saw it. But what they didn’t realise was that Jesus’ POWER was confined in a greater reality – GOD’S LOVE. So, they watched what they thought was an Elephant walking through the streets of Jerusalem and wondered how other’s could miss it – and asking when – WHEN WILL HE DEMONSTRATE HIS POWER? But, they were looking for the wrong animal at the waterhole.

The Blind Men and the Elephant
John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan

To learning much inclined,

Who went to see the Elephant

(Though all of them were blind),

That each by observation

Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,

And happening to fall

Against his broad and sturdy side,

At once began to bawl:

"God bless me! but the Elephant

Is very like a WALL!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,

Cried, "Ho, what have we here,

So very round and smooth and sharp?

To me 'tis mighty clear

This wonder of an Elephant

Is very like a SPEAR!"

The Third approached the animal,

And happening to take

The squirming trunk within his hands,

Thus boldly up and spake:

"I see," said he, "the Elephant

Is very like a SNAKE!"

The Fourth reached out an eager hand,

And felt about the knee

"What most this wondrous beast is like

Is mighty plain," said he:

"Tis clear enough the Elephant

Is very like a TREE!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,

Said: "Even the blindest man

Can tell what this resembles most;

Deny the fact who can,

This marvel of an Elephant

Is very like a FAN!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun

About the beast to grope,

Than seizing on the swinging tail

That fell within his scope,

"I see," said he, "the Elephant

Is very like a ROPE!"

And so these men of Indostan

Disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion

Exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right,

And all were in the wrong!

All 12 disciples had a wrong understanding of Jesus – and thus of God’s nature. Jesus had said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” And yet, the disciples were still looking for Jesus to swing his massive tusks – call 10,000 angels – and set the world to rights. Judas and Peter both took a step in this direction. Judas sold the location of the praying Jesus, hoping to startle Him into defensive action. Peter drew his sword and took the first swing. Jesus, on the other hand, picked up the ear Peter had removed and replaced it – healing the head of the man who came to take him prisoner.
Peter and Judas both fled the scene – each when the heat got too much. Judas couldn’t live with what he’d done. Peter couldn’t see where he’d gone wrong. Both men acted out the doubt and confusion of the twelve.
Jesus was supposed to win. Wasn’t He?
But they had misunderstood the nature of Jesus. He hadn’t come to show POWER but LOVE.
He hadn’t come to fulfil the wishes of the disciples but to reveal the nature of His Father.
He hadn’t come to the waterhole as an elephant – stomping his way to victory.
He hadn’t come to the waterhole as a buffalo – sniffing out and scaring off the devil.

Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”
He hadn’t come to show God’s POWER but God’s LOVE.
And Jesus showed God’s LOVE by entering the waterhole as a wildebeest.
Like many others before Him, Jesus was lifted up and nailed to a cross. Rome had crucified thousands.
Even on that day, there were three.
Jesus entered our waterhole like any of the millions before him.
The roaring lion, looking for someone to devour, leapt upon Jesus – driving his clawed nails into hands and feet.
The crocodile, Leviathan, roused from despair’s depths - took hold of his side – and beginning the death roll, pulled Jesus under -  into murky darkness.
And Jesus died.
“If you’ve seen me,” Jesus said, “you’ve seen the Father.” (John 14:9)
“I give you a new command:” Jesus said, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

There are thousands of children - like wildebeest heading into the waterhole. It is a rare person who can live among them like Jesus. This is a very special calling. Very few of us are Saviours. But all of us are disciples.
And like the Disciple Peter, we are still alive because – now that we understand it – we have accepted the rescue Jesus offered on the cross and the eternal life He promised by conquering the grave. We have hope because we know the rest of the story. May we make this hope of a better life a reality for as many of God’s children as possible.


Non-PCF Questions
(Something to chew on) 

Jesus suffers with us. 
Who do I need to tell this?
How and when will I do it?

Thursday, October 25, 2018

PFC #4 - Look to Jesus

Jesus is our example of how to live. 1 John 2:6 tells us “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” In order for us to act and react as we should in our lives we need to set our eyes on the perfect example. We need to look to Jesus. Today we are going to take a look at one day in the life of Jesus. We are going to look at the problems and situations that faced Jesus in that day and we are going to see how He dealt with them. We are then going to apply the actions and reactions of Jesus to our lives so that we may be better representatives for His Kingdom. In order to live as God would have us live, we must look to Jesus.

Today we are going to look at one day in the life of Jesus. It is not the day of His death or the day of His resurrection. Yet it is such an important day that it is recorded in each of the four gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John found this day so important that not one of them left it out of their telling of the life of Christ. Why did this one-day hold so much weight in the eyes of the apostles? Perhaps it is because it is a day that shows both Christ’s humble humanity as well as His divine deity. Perhaps it is because it is a day that shows Christ as both comforter and comforted. Perhaps it is because it is a day that shows Christ both worshipping and being worshipped. It is the only recorded time, prior to the resurrection, that the disciples actually worshipped Jesus. What kind of day would it take to bring 12 headstrong men to their knees at the feet of their humble Lord? Let’s take a look. Turn to Matthews telling of this most important day.

Matthew 14: 1-12
            Story: John the Baptist is beheaded by request of king’s stepdaughter

Matthew 14: 13-14
            Morning: Jesus hears about John's death. Jesus gets in a boat with the disciples and heads to a private place to mourn. The people see the direction of the boat and run on ahead of it. As the people pass through villages they tell everyone to come see Jesus. When the boat docks, there are 5000 men plus women and children waiting for Jesus. Jesus "Has compassion on them and heals their sick and wounded."

Every one of us has a bad day once in a while. When a catastrophe strikes it is our first impulse to pull away from everything and spend time dealing with the hurt. But what are we to do when our need for solitude clashes with the needs of those around us? We are to look to Jesus. We are to take His example and follow it. What did he do when His need for a time of reflection clashed with the people’s need for a time of healing? Verse 14 tells us that “He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” As Christians - following the example of Christ - we should do the same. If our time of sorrow is interrupted, we are to have compassion on those who are interrupting and do our best to fill their needs.

Matthew 14: 15-21
            Aren’t we very often like the disciples? People are starving around us every day for spiritual bread. They are gorging themselves on the world’s low nutrition, high entertainment, processed food. And we can see their need. Yet we pray, “These people need food, Lord. Send them to a church, or an evangelistic crusade, or have them accidentally tune into a Christian radio or television station.” And in Verse 16 Jesus responds to us, “They don’t need to go away. You give them something to eat.”  “But Lord I don’t have anything to feed them.  I only have an hour a day to spend with you. I only have five loaves and two fish. I don’t have enough for anyone else. What am I supposed to do?” The answer is given in verse 18 where Jesus says, “Bring your loaves and fish to me first. Then watch what you can do with it!”

Verses 19-21 give us an example of what will happen when we bring our spiritual food to Jesus. When we have our morning devotions we need to bring our few minutes, our five loaves and 2 fish, to Jesus. Every morning we must look to Jesus. And when Jesus takes the spiritual morsels that we have found, blesses them and breaks them, he will hand the bits back to us, His disciples, and say, “Give them to the people.” And when we do, thousands will be fed and His blessings will return to us overflowing so that if we were able to find and pick up all the discarded pieces it would take 12 baskets to hold our findings. The spreading of His word will be greatly successful if we will but look to Jesus and ask Him to bless our devotional meal before we begin our study each day.

Matthew 14: 22-31
            Evening: at dusk, the boat was in the middle of the lake. The waters were rough. Mark tells us that Jesus could see the disciples struggling at the oars. Jesus prayed for 7 or 8 hours. Went out on the lake between 3 and 6 AM - the forth watch. Disciples thought he was a ghost. Jesus said, "Don't be afraid, it is me!" Peter says, "If it's really you then tell me to come to you on the water." Jesus calls Peter.

Peter walks on water: The Bible does not say that Peter turned to his friends to make sure they were watching. The Bible says Peter saw the wind. Have you ever seen the wind? Me neither. We only see the effects of the wind. And I think that is what Peter saw. Peter saw a wave looming over him. So he braced himself. If the wave came in high Peter would hip-and-shoulder his way through it. If the wave came in low he would jump over it and land on whatever he was standing on before the wave hit. He was ready for the problem coming his way. He had it all figured out. Then Peter’s problems began to get deeper than he expected. He began to sink. What was Peter's first reaction when he started sinking? He knew he had lost his focus so he looked back to Jesus. What did Peter say to Jesus? Did he say, "Lord, teach me to swim!” No! He said, "Lord, save me!" And Jesus did. Peter's reaction was not to ask for a swimming lesson but for a lifeguard.

Matthew 14: 32-33
God sees you in your sea of troubles. He sees a huge wave about to pound you and He wants to save you. So he turns to the nearest angel and says, "See my Son down there? He's about to be crushed by one of the enemies waves. Can you go save him?"
 The Angel replies, "Yes Lord, I'll leave right now!"
God says, "How long will it take you?"
"You made us all fast, Lord, so we could deliver your answers to prayer! I'll be there in thirty seconds!"
"TOO LONG!!" God shouts. So God turns to Gabriel, his number one angel. "Gabe, do you see my daughter down there? She’s about to be crushed by one of the enemy’s waves. Can you go save her?"
"Yes, Lord."
"How long will it take you to get there?"
"You gave me six wings! I can fly at the speed of light! I'll be there in 15 seconds!"
"TOO LONG!" God turns to his Son, "Son, Do you see our child down there—about to be crushed by one of the enemies waves? Can you go save them?"
Jesus responds, "Yes Father."
"How long will it take you?"
"I'm already there Father! I'm already there!” He’s already here!

Jesus is standing on the water right in front of you waiting for you to look back to Him. When you are mourning a great loss and feel others pulling you to pieces with their wants and needs- look to Jesus. Each day before you enter the world of spiritually starving people, get ready - Look to Jesus. And when you are sinking in the sea of your problems look to the solution. Lift your eyes from your own inability and focus on His capability. Release the death grip that you have on this world and throw your hands to the heavens. Then, like Peter, cry out, “Lord, save me!” and when he does, you too will worship Him.

PFC Bible Study 2 - Group Discussion

The Christian life is not always easy, but it is never lived alone. The following verses make some amazing statements about things Jesus has done, is doing and will do in our lives. How do these verses encourage you?

Colossians 1:13, 14 ~ For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Colossians 2:14, 15 ~ He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.

Psalm 34:4 ~ Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

John 20:21 ~ Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”

Romans 8:38, 39 ~ And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

PFC #3 - Forgiven by Love

Review Spiritual Resilience
"ReStorying your Faith"

Spiritual Resilience Sources
Stories: Me, We, Our
Mentors: 5 Significant Adults

Story Building for Resilience
Get Story - Live it / Hear it
Restory - Give it meaning
Tell it & Retell it - lock it in

RQ#1 Biggest risk you've taken?

Forgiven by Love
King David & Bathsheba

RQ#2 Hardest "Sorry" you've said?

Story: I'm a sorry person.

The brain tumour & the affair
Jenny: What are WE going to do? 

Falling at the Foot of the Cross 
"There, but for" the GRACE of God, go I.
 - vs -
"Here, for" the GRACE of God, go I.

God's Reconcilers: 
"Have you talked to them, yet?"

Restorying Moment for me:
"What are WE going to do?"

Non-PCF Question:
(Something to chew on!)

Jesus made all things right between you and God.
God calls us our reconcilers. 
To you, God says: "Make things right!" 
Who do you need to talk with?
Have you talked to them, yet? When will you?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

PFC Bible Study 1 - group discussion

Life is like walking up a down escalator—when we stand still, we go backward! What challenges do these verses provide to keep us moving forward in our walk with Christ?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ~ Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Psalm 1:1, 2 ~ Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.

Colossians 2:6 ~ And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him.

Ephesians 5:19, 20 ~ Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:22-25 ~ But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.

PCF #2 - Nehemiah joy, Jesus Joy = Our Joy!

Bible Story   

Due to the Spirit-filled leadership of Nehemiah, the people of Jerusalem achieved a great amount—the city wall was rebuilt in just 52 days, Jerusalem’s corrupt leaders were ousted and the people had come together for registration. Jerusalem’s glory was renewed!
In response, the people gathered, built a platform in the city square and called for Ezra, their priest, to read them God’s law. The people longed to worship.
“Ezra stood on the platform in full view of all the people. When they saw him open the book, they all rose to their feet.
“Then Ezra praised the Lord, the great God, and all the people chanted, ‘Amen! Amen!’ as they lifted their hands. Then they bowed down and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:5, 6).
Then Ezra began to read. He recited the scriptures “from early morning until noon. . . . All the people listened closely to the Book of the Law” (verse 3). When the reading finished, the Levites mingled with the people reading the law and they “clearly explained the meaning of what was being read, helping the people understand each passage” (verse 8).
Then, the inevitable happened. People began to see the disparity between their lives and the holy lives called for by God’s Law. In sorrow and repentance, the worshippers began “weeping as they listened to the words of the Law” (verse 9).
At this point in their day of worship, Nehemiah is first mentioned. I imagine him quietly walking on stage and whispering something in Ezra’s ear. The Levites regroup at the podium and confer with God’s leader and His priest. Then, they provide the people with a life-changing message.
The Levites merged back into the crowd and “quieted the people, telling them, ‘Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day’” (verse 11). The worshippers timidly approached the stage. Don’t weep? they thought. Aren’t we supposed to heap ashes on our heads and repent with tears? Isn’t this the purpose of the law?
Nehemiah took center stage. Their fearless—seemingly faultless—leader smiled and in a jubilant voice proclaimed: “Don’t mourn or weep on such a day as this! For today is a sacred day before the Lord your God. . . . Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!” (verses 9, 10).
The joy of the Lord is your strength. Have you ever pondered Paul’s meaning when he wrote, ”Always be joyful” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)? Is it really possible to be joyful always? Even when facing your true nature in comparison to Christ’s perfect law?
Or what about Jesus, hanging on the cross? He couldn’t have been joyful as he endured such pain, could he?
Where did Jesus get His strength as He “endured the cross”? Paul presents the answer: “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2).
Joy? Yes! Jesus looked beyond the cross to the joy of the Kingdom and received the strength to endure His temporary suffering. His own future joy, and the joy of His Father, gave Him strength.
But, that’s only the last half of the text. Paul had a reason for painting a picture of joyful Jesus on the cross. The first half of the text offers us the same opportunity for transformation in worship experienced in Nehemiah’s new-Jerusalem.
We know our sinfulness, and we have witnessed our sinless Savior suffer on our cross. The chasm seems too great. And we weep. How are we to go on? We must mourn, we think. We must bear the burden of His death. How can we endure?
Paul—our Nehemiah—steps forward and proclaims, “We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne” (Hebrews 12:2).
Jesus, the joy of the Lord, is our strength! Eyes fixed on Him belong to a people of joy. And to a world searching for strength, such joy is irresistible. So, be joyful always!

Non-PCF Question: 
Have you ever been challenged to change something about your character, beliefs or habits? What were you challenged to change? What was it that brought the challenge (a person, event, book, etc)? Describe the process of that change.

PFC #1 - Why I am Who I am (ReStorying Me)

PCF Restaurant
(Tasty treat but kinda gross!)

RQ#1 Favourite Food? Why?

Prayer Faith Conference 2018
Theme: Reclaiming our Faith
Focus: ReStorying your Faith

Resilience is Bouncing Back

Spiritual Resilience Sources
Stories: Me, We, Our
Mentors: 5 Significant Adults

Story Building for Resilience
Gather Stories - Live it / Hear it
ReStory - Give it meaning
Tell it & Retell it - lock it in

Joseph/ Daniel - build resilience 
Tests: for God or from God
Trouble: God/Ppl in it together
Trust: together we R stronger! 
Can u do this? NO! God and I can!

RQ#2 Funniest family Member? Why?

Why I don't do drugs: 
Earl's Signs
Grandpa's Drinking
Grandma's Lungs
Blanket Party 

Restorying must be personal
You can't ReStory other people 

Hawaii, Mike's life goal and
The Vegetarian Virgin who doesn't drink 

Restorying Moment for me:
How do you DO it? 

"ReStorying your Faith"

Non-PCF Questions: 
(Something to chew on!)
How do you do it?
Where does your strength come from?

PFC 2018 - Spiritual Resilience Sources

Resilience comes From
Stories: Me, We, Our
Mentors: 5 Significant Adults

Story Building for Resilience
Gather Stories - Live it / Hear it
Restory - Give it meaning
Tell it & Retell it - Lock it in

Prayer Faith Conference 2018
Theme: Reclaiming our Faith
Focus: ReStorying your Faith

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Travelling with Resilience

It’s Wednesday morning and my daughter and I are sitting in the Melbourne Airport waiting for a flight to London. Early this year, I was asked to go to London and speak to teenagers about spiritual resilience.

Last night, I talked to our host. There are 140 teenagers (aged 14 and 16) booked in for the four-day conference. In the daytime, the teens will be engaged in various kinds of high-octane fun. The mornings and evenings will be when I speak to them. I’ve thought a lot about what I will say.

I’ve talked to British friends who work with teens and asked them for advice. What are the teens in London able and ready to hear? Excellent communication is not about talking but about being heard.

The day is finally here. Sitting, waiting for the flight, a plan is forming of what I might say.
Resilience is about knowing who you are, who you can trust, and where you’ve come from. It’s about the experiences and people who shaped you. Those stories become your story when you truly hear them.

Spiritual resilience is about knowing the deep history behind your story. Where did your ancestors come from? Where did your understanding of life come from? Where did your values come from? Our spiritual self is a deeper and wider gathering of stories than our personal self. These historical stories are important.

All stories are important for building resilience. Your story. Your family stories. Your ancestral story. Your faith and values stories. Finding yourself and your place in the world comes alongside the stories you hear and take on board about yourself. This creates resilience.

So, I’m going to tell stories from my life, my family and my faith. Then I’m going to challenge the teens to find and tell their story. Again and again. Until they travel with resilience. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Sin separates. Love Unites. (Q4 SS Lesson Intro)

My Mom serves as the chaplain for the local chapter of the Veterans Association in her area of California. This week two people in her care asked for Bible studies. She said they don’t want to be led to a denomination but just to understand the Bible.

I told her to lead them to Jesus. That’s what He asks us to do!

She then said, “They want to know what the Bible says about Evolution VS Creation.”

“The Bible doesn’t talk about that,” I said. “Western Christians talk about that. The Bible assumes a Creator and goes from there.”

I then led her to a number of non-denominational studies exploring the primary themes of the Bible. You can find a heap of them at

This Quarter in our Bible study time, we are studying the overarching storyline of the Bible – Sin separates, Love unites – unity.

The Bible is the story of God’s interaction with His people. It is not a story of perfect people. There is only one who lived a perfect life – God in the flesh, Jesus Christ. The rest fail. The storyline is one of sin separating people from people and people from God and God’s Love calling those people out of the darkness of sin and into unity.

When God’s people call for unity, they are working in the loving mission of their Creator.

When God’s people cause disunity, they are working against the will of God.

Sin separates. God unites.

The Bible repeats this theme over and over. Sin separates. God unites. The Bible is not a science book but a book of reconciliation. When we ask, “Did that really happen?” We are not asking a Biblical question. The question the Bible answers – over and over again – is, “Does this really happen?” And the answer is yes. Sin separates. Love unifies.

At the beginning of the Bible, God creates order out of chaos. Then He keeps doing it, over and over. First with the world, then with His people. He commissions Adam and Eve to govern His Creation – creating and recreating order from the chaos of life. Sin destroys. Love creates.

Throughout the Bible, the theme is repeated. Sin separates, God unites. Ultimately by allowing Himself to be placed on a Cross where He provided ultimate unity between His people and Himself by taking their place in punishment. Sin separates, Love unites.

The cross is the ultimate example of sin’s destructive power to separate. It is also the ultimate example of God’s loving power to create unity.

Sin separates. God unites.

God is Love.

Sin separates. Love unites.

Join the cause of God.

Create unity!

Hope SS Guides - Q4 2018 - Lessons 1 & 2 (hotlinked texts)

Lesson 1 - Creation and Fall
Today, we begin an important series of studies on Oneness in Christ.

1. Love—the foundation for unity
  • a) Genesis 1:26-27 What does this inspired record teach us both about our Creator and His intention for our human family? 
  • b) 1 John 4:7, 8, 16 What is the clearest evidence of our unity with our Creator? 
  • c) Genesis 2:7, 21-25 How do you see love and oneness revealed in the inspired accounts of the creation of man and woman? 

2. The tragic story of disobedience and its consequences
  • a) Genesis 3:1-6 – the tragic story of disobedience 
  • b) Consequences of disobedience 
    • i) Genesis 3:7 – consequence #1 
    • ii) Genesis 3:8 – consequence #2 
    • iii) Genesis 3:12 – consequence #3 
    • iv) Genesis 3:17-19 – consequence #4 
    • v) Genesis 4:8 – consequence #5 
    • vi) What other negative consequences do you see as a result of rebellion against our loving Creator? 

3. Ongoing disunity and separation
  • a) Genesis 11:1-9 What does the construction of the Tower of Babel tell us about its builders? I, therefore, beseech you (Ephesians 4:1–3) Scripture Song: Galatians 2:20–21 
  • b) If our loving Creator desires us to experience oneness with Himself and with each other, why did He bring confusion at the Tower of Babel?
  • c) What evidences do you see of disunity and separation today? 
  • d) How can we assist in the process of bringing God’s creation back together in loving unity with Him and with each other? 

4. The journey towards oneness with God
  • a) Hebrews 11:8-19 What lessons can we learn from the patriarch Abraham about the journey towards oneness with God? (see also Genesis 22:1-14) 
  • b) Think of some other Bible characters who were called to leave that which was familiar to them in order to experience a closer relationship with God. 
  • c) Share a time when God called you out of your comfort zone in order to draw you closer to Him. 

5. Blessed to bless
  • a) Genesis 12:1-3 Why did the LORD God promise such abundant blessings for Abram and his descendants? (see also Deuteronomy 7:6-11 and Galatians 3:29) 
  • b) What special blessings are promised to Christians and what blessing are we called to share with others? 1 Peter 2:9
  • c) Share an experience where you were blessed when you told someone else what God has done for you.

Lesson 2 - Causes of Disunity
1. Disobedience
  • a) Deuteronomy 28:1-14 What blessings did the LORD promise His people if they lived in harmony with His commandments? 
  • b) Deuteronomy 28:15-20 What negative consequences would result from disobedience? 
  • c) When God’s people wandered away from Him in disobedience, what was His desire for them? Jeremiah 3:12-18 
  • d) What is the root cause of disobedience? 
  • e) Share an example from your own life of how disobedience to God’s Word resulted in disunity. 

2. Pride of personal opinion
  • a) Judges 17:6, 21:25 
  • b) What was the disastrous result of proudly trusting in personal opinion? Judges 2:11-13, 3:5-7 
  • c) What warnings does Solomon give regarding the danger of a proud attitude? Proverbs 13:10, 16:18, 6:16-19 
  • d) What story in the Bible illustrates the damaging results of a proud attitude? 

3. Following ungodly counsel
  • a) 1 Kings 12:1-7, 8-16 How can we be certain that we are listening to godly counsel? I, therefore, beseech you (Ephesians 4:1–3) Scripture Song: Galatians 2:20–21 
  • b) What promises in God’s Word assure us of His desire to provide wise counsel for us? Psalm 32:8, James 1:5 
  • c) What appeal does Solomon make to each one of us? Proverbs 19:20 d) Share a time when following godly counsel brought healing and restoration to a broken relationship. 

4. Following people rather than following God
  • a) 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 Why does the apostle Paul plead so earnestly with the Corinthian believers? 
  • b) What is the danger of following a person, even if he or she is walking closely with the Lord? Why is Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11:1 an important reminder when learning from another believer? 
  • c) What habit of the Berean believers was affirmed by Paul? Acts 17:11 

5. Attacks from without and within
  • a) Acts 20:28-30 (also Matthew 7:15) – savage wolves 
  • b) Numbers 12:1-2 - Miriam and Aaron (envy) 
  • c) 2 Timothy 2:15-18 - Hymenaeus and Philetus
  • d) 2 Timothy 3:12-17 What counsel does Paul give to the young preacher Timothy regarding those who would seek to bring disunity to the church? 
  • e) What Bible promise gives you hope and courage when you are under attack?

Monday, October 08, 2018

Future-Proofing your Kids

Pause: Think about this question for 30 seconds before continuing. 
How is empowerment different from encouragement? 

Pulling the words apart is a great way to understand en-courage-ment and em-power-ment. We develop courage in our children when we encourage them. We develop personal power in our children when we empower them.

Courage comes from doing something well and knowing we can do it again. Sometimes we know we did a good job. Sometimes we need someone to tell us. Encouragement is when we tell others we have seen what they have done and we believe they did a great job. An encouraging parent says, based on what we know of our child, we believe they can do this – even if it is harder or different than what they have done in the past. Our words and actions give our children courage.

Power comes from making choices and seeing the results of those choices. Decisions are always followed by consequences – good or bad. While we hope for positive results from our decisions, we learn from both positive and negative outcomes – if we think about it afterwards. Empowerment is when we allow others to make decisions that impact the future. A big part of being an empowering parent comes after our children make decisions and we ask good questions to help our child reflect and learn from the consequences of their choices. This gives them power to face tough choices and make wise decisions in the future. Allowing our children to choose their own words and actions gives them power.

Both encouragement and empowerment help us to become all that we can be. Hearing, “Well done!” and “You can do this!” build courage. Hearing, “What will you do next?” and “What have you learned?” develop personal power. The difficulties in the future will be easier to face if we have self-trusting courage and decision-making power. These skills come from being encouraged and empowered throughout childhood.

Are you more natural at encouraging or empowering your kids? Both are important and both build resilient kids. How will you encourage your kids today? How will you empower them for tomorrow?

Friday, September 21, 2018

Hope SS Q3#12 - Confinement in Ceaserea (with Hotlinked Bible verses)

1. Trial before Felix, governor of Judea
a) Acts 24:1–9, were any of these accusations against Paul true?
b) Acts 24:10–19, what impresses you about Paul’s response?
c) Acts 24:22–26, what do these verses reveal about governor Felix?
d) What is the danger of waiting for a convenient time to make a commitment to Jesus?
e) How long was Paul confined at Herod’s Praetorium in Caesarea? Acts 24:27
f) How do you handle times when God seems slow to hear and answer your prayers?

2. Appearance before governor Festus
a) Acts 25:1–5, what appeal did the Jewish leaders make to Festus, the newly appointed governor of Judea? Why?
b) What was Festus’ conclusion after interviewing Paul? Acts 25:25–27
c) Acts 25:6–12, after making his appeal before Festus, why did Paul appeal to Caesar?
d) Was this appeal to Caesar directed by God or was Paul following his own plan at this point? Might he rather have said, “I appeal to God”? Acts 26:32
e) What promise can we claim when we sense we might have made a poor decision? (see Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 12:9–10)

3. Appearance before King Herod Agrippa II
a) Acts 25:13–22, great-grandson of Herod the Great
b) Acts 25:23–27, the confession of Festus
c) Acts 26:1–3, why did Paul begin his defence before King Agrippa with words of affirmation?
d) Acts 26:4–23, why did Paul share his life story, including his conversion, before King Agrippa? What new information is added, not found in Acts 9?
e) Why did Paul recount this additional revelation to King Agrippa? (see Acts 26:28)
f) Share a time when you were studying the Bible with someone and they were almost persuaded to become a Christian. How did the
story end?

4. Staying calm under attack
a) What accusation did Festus make against Paul? Acts 26:24
b) How had Jesus counselled His followers to respond in such situations? Matthew 5:11–12
c) How did Paul respond to the comment of governor Festus? Acts 26:25
d) Share a time when God enabled you to stay calm even when you were under attack as a Christian.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Growing Resilience

I talk about resilience a lot.

Every time my 17-year-old daughter hears the word resilience, she says, “There’s your word, Dad!” So, in a nutshell, here what I know about building resilience in ourselves and our children.
Resilience is built in Relationships
Relationships are shaped by Reconciliation
Reconciliation is the skill of making things right
by saying “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you”
It is much easier to say: “I’m sorry” and mean it than it is to say: “I forgive you” and mean it. And yet, without forgiveness, our world stops. A lack of forgiveness stops countries sharing resources, families sharing Christmas and partners sharing a bed. Being sorry people is natural. Being forgiving people is enlightened!

So, start by saying the words “I forgive you” more often. Squeeze them into as many conversations as possible. Let people know they are loved by embracing them with forgiveness. Welcome them home.

Alongside forgiveness, offer apologies more often. It’s much better to apologise and hear, “You don’t need to apologise!” than not to apologise and risk the other person harbouring a niggle that grows into hatred. Two families in a small town hadn’t spoken to each other for generations. When a new police chief was posted to the town, he couldn’t understand the hatred and searched for an explanation. He asked everyone, including the members of the two families and no one knew the reason. The same explanation came from both camps: “We never talk to them! Our families don’t mix! They are dishonest, hurtful, horrible people!” No one knew the reason, but everyone lived the hate.

Apologise early. Apologise often. It hurts no one. In fact, it makes you the bigger person because you are willing to own your actions and admit you make mistakes. Children struggle with both sides of forgiveness unless it is modelled to them regularly. Reconciliation is a constant choice of conscience.

Once you’ve put reconciliation into full swing, your relationships will become healthy, happy and numerous. People who treat others kindly have more friends. It’s like magic. Well, not really. Everyone loves being loved!

Friendships built on forgiveness and kindness turn into deeply trusting relationships. And that’s where resilience comes from. Social researchers say people who bounce back quickly from unexpected difficulties (resilient people) have at least five significant adult relationships. That’s five emotionally healthy adults you know you can trust to eat with you, listen to you and care for you.

Resilience is a team sport. We build it together as we do life together. Invest more in your relationships, practice reconciliation, and watch your resilience — and the resilience of your children — grow, grow, grow!

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

“Are you busy?”

We’ve all answered this question a thousand times. In our hectic world, it’s a badge of honour to say, “Yes, very busy!”

“Busy” tops my list of least favourite four-letter words. Five years ago, I nearly destroyed my marriage and family. As we recovered, I recognised I had to prioritise relationships as the most important thing in my life. To actually put my wife and children first wasn’t easy. It meant I had to leave my busyness mindset behind. I had to change my purpose and my focus.

Now, I want people to know I am available to them – never too busy to listen or care. Of course, there are times when I have things to do. But, relationships lead to happiness and resilience. I want to be available to myself and others– even when I’ve got things to do. Pop your head into my office and no matter how ‘busy’ I may be, I remind myself that relationships come first, mentally press pause on my to-do list and invite you to come in, sit and chat for a spell.

Like busyness, availability is a state of mind. It takes a serious brain-retrain in our rush-around world to choose to be available rather than busy. But, it is possible – and highly rewarding!

Seek to be in a state of availability to self and others. Being available to others means being attentive to their needs when they show us those needs – not when we get around to it. Being available to ourselves means having awareness of our own needs and being willing to address those needs as they arise. A lack of self-awareness leads to anger, disinterest and disengagement. A lack of attentiveness to others leads to selfishness, loneliness and fragmented relationships.

When asked if I’m busy, I quickly answer, “Nope. I’m never busy.” While it isn’t always true – the quick answer reminds me of who I want to be. Then, if I’m living it that day, I offer my availability and say, “How can I help?”

Monday, August 27, 2018

Teaching Compassion

This morning I asked a year six boy what he thought the most important value was for kids. He said, “Kindness.” I asked him what kindness means to him and he said it means to be kind to other kids and then they would be kind to you. He’s on to something!

Thousands of years ago, sages in every culture taught a maxim of compassion we call the Golden Rule. “Do to others what you would like them to do to you.” This is the core reason for compassion — a knowledge that what comes around goes around.

Share and someone will share with you.

Care and someone will care for you.

Hard-wired into our early brain development, kindness is much deeper than a self-serving survival strategy. Compassion — which literally means “to suffer together” — builds strong bonds, friendships and relationships. When we feel compassion, it changes us. Our heart rate slows. Our brain releases oxytocin — the bonding hormone — and the regions of the brain responsible for empathy, caregiving, and pleasure engage. In short, being kind makes us happy.

In a world which teaches us to put ourselves first, how do we as parents teach our children to care for the needs of others? Once we get them started in compassionate behaviour, their brain’s reward system should take over and encourage them to be kind again and again.

Here are a few ideas for giving compassion a kick-start in your children:

Model Compassion: Do acts of kindness in front of your children. When you see someone drop something, pick it up and give it to them with a kind word. Help out at school functions. Hold the door for others. Always give to buskers. Back off in traffic to allow other cars to merge. After you do these things, talk about them with your children. What you did will combine with why you did it to bring compassion alive in your child’s mind.

A Family Pet: Get a pet that requires consistent but simple care — like hermit crabs or a mouse. As a family, design a list of care requirements and keep it next to the pet’s cage. Talk about the care rules as you follow them each day. After a few weeks with the pet in a shared area, move the cage and care rules into your child’s room for a weekend.

Service Activities: Get involved in activities where your family can give back to the community. Help serve at a soup kitchen. Donate a couple of hours to a local opshop. Help at working bees. Donate supplies to Breaky Club.

Values are caught not taught. Give your children the best chance to have a values-rich life by modelling and discussing the values you believe will benefit them. Start by seeing, sharing and caring for the suffering around you — this is compassion.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

#8 The Jerusalem Council - Hope SS (with hot links)

1.      The challenge for the early Christian church

a)      Acts 13:42–49, why would the conversion of many Gentiles create a challenge for the early Christian church?
b)     Acts 15:1–5, the basic question: should Gentile Christians be required to follow all the Jewish laws, including circumcision?
c)      Acts 15:11, here is a clear confession that salvation comes by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why then is there such an insistence by some religious leaders regarding ceremonial laws?
d)     Why does Paul speak so sternly about these Judaizers? Galatians 1:7; Gal 2:4

2.      Circumcision

a)      Genesis 17:9–14, a sign of the covenant
b)     Exodus 12:43–49
c)      Why did Paul see an insistence on circumcision for Gentiles as a distortion of the Gospel Galatians 5:6, Romans 3:28–30
d)     How can we avoid the trap of thinking only people who are just like us can be saved?

3.      The lively discussion at the Jerusalem Council

a)      Acts 15:6–7, why is vigorous discussion and active involvement important in the Christian church? (see also Acts 6:2–6; Acts 13:1–3)
b)     Acts 15:7–11, what impresses you the most about the testimony of Peter?
c)      Acts 15:12, why is it important to listen and not just speak when you are seeking a solution to a potentially divisive problem?
d)     Acts 15:13–21, what solution did James propose?
e)     When disputes arise, how can we learn to listen to each other love and respect, and work through the issues with a spirit of humility?

4.      The Letter from Jerusalem and the Apostolic Decree

a)      Acts 15:22, what indication do you see that the group had arrived at a meaningful consensus?
b)     Acts 15:23–28, what impresses you about the way the letter is written?
c)      Acts 15:29, why do the apostles, elders, and brethren highlight the four prohibitions listed in this verse? (renunciation of paganism, outlined in Leviticus 17–18)
d)     Do these prohibitions imply issues like no idol worship (2nd commandment) or remembering the Sabbath day (4th commandment) no longer apply?
e)     Acts 15:30–33, how did the Christian believers respond to this letter from the Council in Jerusalem?

f)       What lessons can we learn from this process when dealing with challenges in the church today?

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Parenting Value #1 — Reconciliation

I read an answer on Quora that made me pump my fist and say, “You tell ’em, champ!” The question was about a parent breaking an iPad because a child was addicted to a game. The parent wanted to know if breaking the iPad was overkill… Yeah, seriously.

Anyway, the answer this guy gave made me smile for a week. In short, he said his parents knew tech was the future and encouraged his gaming. They also ensured they spent lots of time doing activities as a family. Then he said, “If my parents would have broken my gaming system, I wouldn’t be working in tech today — where I make five times per year what my parents make combined.”

I’m tired of tech-bashing posts, articles and videos aimed at parents. The reason it bothers me so much is that it blames technology for family problems rather than challenging us to look in the mirror at the real problem. Technology is serving the role of both the babysitter and stable significant other for many kids. It’s not the child’s fault and it’s not tech’s fault. Kids are the victims of family angst. Tech is the fall-guy.

A lack of relationship skills is at fault. Primarily, the skill — or value — of reconciliation. We tell our kids to say sorry when they hurt someone and to forgive people when they apologise, but we often struggle to do this ourselves. Children do what we do, not what we say.

Values are caught not taught. I had a little guy in for a chat this week who I called a ‘silly monkey.’ He laughed and said, “That’s my nickname — Monkey!” And it reminded me of the three monkeys — one covering its eyes, one covering its ears, one covering its mouth. And it reminded me of my Mum shaking her head as I did another crazy thing because my friends did. “Monkey see, monkey do!” she said time and time again. We learn from watching, hearing and repeating what we see others do. We’re just like those silly monkeys!

Photo Credit
I have three kids that love their parents and each other. As a family, we regularly laugh together, play board games together, eat together and chat for hours. That said, they love their tech (as do I!) and have been tech-kids since they were in nappies. The oldest coordinated mouse-in-hand to cursor-on-screen when he was just two-years-old. He’s been at it since. Today he’s almost halfway through a Computer Science Degree in which he’s thriving. Boy two is in his first year of a Data Science Degree and thinks it’s awesome. He’s also a WOW legend! Our daughter, a budding florist, strengthens her skills by watching her favourite YouTubers and learns one creative thing after another from Pinterest, Instagram and other social media.

Dad (that’s me) has been a blogger for nearly two decades and a YouTuber (that’s what the kids at school call me! lol) for just over a decade. In just the past year, more than half-a-million people have read/listened to my content. Crazy, eh?

Tech isn’t the problem. It also isn’t the reason my kids are awesome. And, they are awesome!

They got a good start at being great people because their parents choose to suffer and succeed together. We fall. We get up. We apologise. We forgive. We mean it. We learn from our mistakes. We grow stronger. And we do these things privately, publicly and honestly — in front of our kids. They know what stupid mistakes look like. They know what huge belly laughs feel like. They apologise quickly. They forgive eagerly. They move on. Because they’ve seen it work. Loving and lovable people are good at forming and reforming relationships. Relationships are built on the ability to make things right — that’s reconciliation.

To whom do you need to apologise?

Whom do you need to forgive?

Do it. Regularly.

Let the monkeys see it and hear it — and soon they will say it too.

Monday, July 16, 2018

TECHnically Great Families

I'm tired of tech-bashing childhood research.

The reason it bothers me so much is because it blames technology for the problems caused by loss of family values and skyrocketing family breakdowns. Technology is serving the role of both the babysitter and stable significant other for many kids. It's not the kids' fault and it's not tech's fault. Kids are the victims. Tech is the fall-guy.

Photo Credit
A lack of relationship values is at fault:
Here in lies the true problem.

I have three kids that love their parents, each other and have long-term friendships with non-family members.

As a family, we regularly laugh together, play board games together, eat together, and chat for hours. That said, they love their tech (as do I!) and have been tech-kids since they were in nappies. The oldest was the first one to coordinate a mouse-in-hand to cursor-on-screen when he was about 2 years old. He’s been at it since. Today he’s almost halfway through a Computer Science degree in which he’s thriving. Boy 2 is in his first year of a Data Science degree and thinks it’s awesome. He’s also a WOW legend! Our daughter, the youngest, strengthens her faith by watching her favourite Christian youtubers and learns one creative thing after another from Pintrest, Instagram and YouTube.

Dad (that's me) has been a blogger for nearly two decades and a youtuber (that's what the kids at school call me! lol) for just over a decade. In just the past year, more than half-a-million people have read/listened to my content. Crazy, eh?

Tech isn't the problem.

It also isn't the reason my kids are awesome. And, they are awesome!

They are great people because their parents suffer and succeed together. We fall. We get up. We apologise. We forgive. We mean it. We learn from our mistakes. We grow stronger. And we do these things privately, publicly and honestly - in front of our kids. They know what stupid mistakes look like. They know what huge belly laughs feel like. They apologise quickly. They forgive eagerly. Because they've seen it work.

People need to stop blaming tech and start loving each other!

A safe Australia is a values-centred Australia

Individual values shape family values. Family values shape community values. Community values shape cultural values. And cultural values shape the character of a nation. Australia is not the safe place it was a generation or two ago. Due to changes in cultural cohesion, community involvement and family structure; what it means to be Australian is shifting and in the process we are losing focus on our shared values. In short, we are no longer able to articulate what it means to be Australian.

Because values provide the foundational core of culture, The Australia Government is doing everything they can to help us find ourselves. This is why schools have values statements, buddy systems and peer mentoring for the students and programs like Real Schools for teachers and staff. It’s also why schools have chaplains, mentors, councillors and well-being officers.

US President Theodore Roosevelt said, “To educate a person in mind and not morals is to educate a menace to society.” A safe Australia is a values-centred Australia. We know this! Not only do values keep us safe, they play a key role in our happiness, wellbeing and success. But, where do they come from? How do we develop values?

Values are caught not taught. We develop our values by watching and participating with other people. Values transfer from one person to another through relational pathways. The stronger the relationship, the more likely we will embody the values lived out by the other person. For most children, parents are their primary relationships and thus the strongest source for their values. Significant family members are also relational values givers. Those we value most provide most of our values.

As a parent, if we want to raise children with holistic healthy values, we need to know our core values and live by them. To do this, we need to take our own values seriously. Sit down and make a list. What are my core values? Why do I have these values? How do I live by these values and how will I ensure I live by them in the future?

A list of commonly held values is a good place to start. Values specialist Michael Gurian suggests ten moral competencies all humans need: decency, fairness, empathy, self-sacrifice, responsibility, loyalty, duty, service, honesty and honour. Happiness guru Martin Seligman adds humility, self-control, love of learning, industriousness, leadership, caution and playfulness. Parenting experts Linda and Richard Eyre continue the list with courage, peaceability, self-reliance, dependability, respect, love, unselfishness and mercy.

An honest personal values list will have just a handful of values. Although more confronting, reverse engineering your list will give you the most honest results. Instead of picking your values from a list; look at the actions, activities and communities in which you are regularly involved. Why are you involved in these things? Your core-values will likely be at the heart of the reasons why you dedicate time and energy to these things.

Once you’ve generated your list, talk about it. Notice when one of your values is lived-out by one of your children and tell them what you’ve seen in them. Put a name to the actions you want to see. Celebrate your values in action!

One by one, both you and your child will become all you hope to be. And Australia will be better for it!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Resilience Reservoirs are Filled by Sharing Your Story-Well

Stories from the story-well of your own life and the lives of others fill your resilience reservoir. The stories you pour into your children’s story-well will be drawn from for the rest of their lives.

Here are four categories of stories about yourself that are guaranteed to help your kids:

Success Stories — Your achievements from childhood, teenage years and adulthood.

Failure Stories — Things you tried, failed and learned from.

Unexpected Surprises — Unplanned things that shaped you. People. Events.

Unexpected Crises — Unfortunate events that shaped you. Accidents. Illness. Loss.

Along with these stories, make sure to include how that event shaped you for better or worse. Stories of both wins and losses are important. They show our kids that real people have real lives, just like them.

Next, expand the circle of influence to include your parents and siblings (your kid’s grandparents, aunts and uncles) and tell the same four kinds of stories from their lives. Better even, ask your extended family to tell the stories from their own perspective. You may want to prepare some key questions based on stories you know your parents and siblings are willing to tell. Prompt them for their stories with a few of your memories.

All the life-stories your children hear flow into their story-well and fill their resilience reservoir. Emotional strength comes from these stories being available when we need them.

Ask your kids to tell their stories, too. Help them to develop positive lessons from the many stories in their lives.

A deep story-well leads to a life of strength, love and joy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Best Way to Build Resilience in Your Children

Resilience is the ability to bounce back after a setback.

Some setbacks can be overcome easily, others take time. Why do some people bounce back quickly from an unexpected setback while others seem to get swallowed up?

Heaps of research has been done on what builds resilience. In short, the answer is - the more experience, the more resilience. But here's where things get interesting. It doesn't need to be your own experience. The people around you grow your resilience if you know their stories.

Amazingly, our brains do the same thing with stories we are told as they do with our own experiences. First, we receive the story. Then, we interpret the story. Finally, the interpreted story is stored with hundreds of emotional tags - good, bad, funny, angry, success, failure, happy, sad, lesson learned, random occurrence, etc.

Experience. Relationships. Stories. These three things combine to provide numerous memories of hitting bottom and getting back up. Sometimes quickly. Sometimes slowly. Resilience comes when a person encounters a setback and digs back in their memory - into their story satchel: "Is there a story that relates to this setback?" Our subconscious scans through the tags and says, "Aha! This is like that!" And we begin to make sense of this new struggle. Or, a storyless subconscious sends back, "Nope. Nothing to work with. This is a new low." This is when resilience is hardest.

As parents, it is important to tell stories of both successes and failures. When we share success stories, the point is implied: "I tried, I won!" When we tell struggle stories, the point (resilience) is made in the way we tell the story. It gives little hope to a child to hear, "I failed high school Maths because it was too hard." A resilient telling of the same occasion could be, "I failed high school maths because I was still learning. I had to get some help and practice lots. But then, when the next exam came, I was ready for it!" Or, in my case, I shift the focus (because maths and my brain are from different planets) and say, "Maths is really hard for me. But I love to write. When I was in high school, I did my best on the maths classes I had to take but I took lots of extra English classes because I love writing. I was even the yearbook editor in year 12!"

The important thing is to tell lots of stories. Failure is important. It shows our kids they can make it because we did. Kids who believe their parents are perfect believe their parents expect perfection from them.

Life is not about perfection, it's about connection. Build resilience in your children by blanketing them in story.

Significant Adults: Surround your children with well-storied people. Explain your goal to build resilient kids to these significant adults. Ask them to share stories with your children. Thank them for helping!

Storytelling Parents: Tell your children stories of your own. Your setbacks, struggles and successes will empower them to make wise decisions and to bounce back from whatever life throws at them.

Resilient Kids: Finally challenge your kids to build stories of their own. Overcoming small setbacks gets us ready to overcome big ones later in life.

The best way to build resilience in your kids? Surround them with stories. Their own, yours and the stories of people they love.

Solving the Loneliness Epidemic by Opting Out

Values, identity and resilience once came from our Church Community and our Family Faith. Now, both church and family are relics of the past for most westerners.

Secular Primary/Secondary Schools are facing this head on. Governments (at least the one here in Australia) know intrinsic values result in extrinsic behaviour. Due to the lack of values coming from the historical sources — healthy nuclear families and community creating churches — schools are being challenged to run ‘values programs’ and teach positive identity and emotional resilience to students. Many schools have creedal statements centring around their desired values. The clear hope is that the next generation of adults will be less self-centred, disrespectful and lawless.

It is often said that ‘It takes a village to raise a child’… But the villages are empty. People are flocking to the cities. In cities, community gets swallowed up by cacophony. Without healthy relationships at the core of cohesive communities, we will not see other-centredness in the village square.

More people need to decide the relationships they are in are worth saving and savouring. Throwing a person or an organisation away because your views have changed is sending you down the path of loneliness with the rest of the west.

Right now, the default is to join the cubicle conglomeration: a collection of secluded self-actualised humans living in tiny cardboard boxes jammed-up against other boxes of other success-driven self-made men and women.

Buck the system. Leave the conglomeration and join a congregation. Find a spouse and get married. Then stick around through thick and thin. Build a family. Join a church. Face life together. Create something together today worth living in together tomorrow.

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,...