Saturday, September 30, 2023

The BAD WORDS of Christianity

As Christians, we've been sold a bad set of words. And words define everything. 

Sin and Saved. Horrible words. 

If you're talking about being a Christian - a follower of Jesus - you couldn't have two more ill-fitting words than sin and saved. Are you saved? When did you get saved? How do you know you're saved? Have you sinned? Is this a sin? Is that a sin? How bad of a sin? IS IT A SALVATION ISSUE? Talk about 'adventures in missing the point!' If there are more effective words to destroy and distract the hearts and minds of Jesus' followers, I don't know what they are.

Do you want to know the good word? The word that'll knock sin out of your vocabulary and saved out of your worries... Love

Try it on for a bit. How does it fit?

Are you loved?

Imagine talking to your parents one day and saying, "If a big bus was careening out of control down the road toward me and you were on the side of the road, would you save me?" They would say, "Of course." ... Then you ask, "Why?" and they respond, "Because we love you!"

We do everything we can for the good of those whom we love. There's no greater love than to die for a friend. And, yet, Jesus died for you while you were still ignorant of his love. Why? So you could know you are saved? No, because He already loved you. He loves you. You are loved.

Sin doesn't make sense as a concept once you know you are loved. Sin is for those who need a list to guide them. Christians have Jesus. Knowing we are loved by God changes our allegiance. We no longer tic the boxes of righteousness. We follow in the wake of the Righteous One. We need not ask, is this a sin? Is that a sin? Have I sinned? Instead, we act in love. Like Jesus. In his own words, "The entirety of the sin/law code can be summed up in one idea: Love the Lord your God with all you've got and love everyone else as much as you are loved."

Love keeps no record of wrongs.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Buddha in Bali

At breakfast one day, my client asked the waitress why there was a statue of the Buddha in the restaurant when Bali is mostly Hindu. She explained we were sitting in a Thai restaurant and Thailand is mostly Buddhist. I asked her if she knew the name of the Buddha (I was drawing a blank) and she said, “Name? The Buddha lived as a man?” Boy, I got excited! Storytime! 
I quickly googled his name and then told her about the prince who, as a baby, was blessed and a prophecy came from the lips of the man blessing him, “I have seen that young Siddhartha Gautama will grow to be one of two great things. He will either be the world’s greatest military leader or he will become the world’s greatest spiritual teacher. But not both.” 
Siddharta’s father wanted the kingdom he ruled over to be superior to all others. So, he got the best military training for the prince. And the best education. And he trained him to be a great king. He also kept his son away from anything that would encourage him toward spiritual things. He kept him away from the poor, the sick, the lame and only let him see power, wealth and health. 
After Siddharta was married and had a child, he was riding through the city in an enclosed charriot, as he always did. But, the curtains parted and he saw, along the roadside, a man with one leg - begging. When he got home, it bothered him that there was suffering outside his palace. He began sneaking out and visiting the poor. 
One day, after saying goodbye to his wife and son, the prince left his wealth behind. Dressed as a commoner, he began walking from place to place on a pilgramage of suffering in an attempt to understand it. He decided all of life was suffering. He starved himself for awhile thinking perhaps food was the problem. But, skinny and nearly dead, he decided he was wrong. So, he began eating everything, enjoying every flavour and texture. Perhaps indulging was the remedy for suffering. But, after a time, feeling fat and unwell, he decided indulgence, also, was not the answer. Then he discovered ballance. All things in moderation but none to the point of selfishness. 
Years later, while sitting under a tree, Siddharta became fully enlightened. He realised that all of life IS suffering but all who truly live can end the suffering they see - or at least try. And this is the way of the Buddha.
The waitress, a young lady of maybe 25 listened to the entire story caught up in it. She said she had never heard this story but liked it very much. She thanked me for sharing it. 
One thing I really love about Bali is the unrushed nature of everyone - especially hospitality staff. They od or squat next to our table and we have long chats. It is a beautful place with truly beautiful people. 
Later in the day, as we were walking through Ubud, my client said, “Dave I am so glad you are my worker. I have so many spiritual questions and I love that you can just answer off the top of your head because you have studied these things and know all the stories. You’re perfect for me!” He’s a catholic man and really loves to talk about Bible stories and theology. Right now we are part way through a discussion about various Christian theories of atonement. 
But I digress. Buddha! Cool story. Bali. Great place!

The Jesus Journey - join today

 Facebook discussion

Join the Jesus Journey! Please read the passage and answer the questions in the comments section. Let's share and learn from each other!

Join the discussion group above. 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Bible Study Conversation Guide

I finally developed an idea I've had for a while. A simple Bible study discussion and note-taking study guide.

Grab the PDF here

Print it double-sided, Fold it in quarters and you have a convenient note-taking size. open it for the discussion guide, when needed. 🙂

It is good, of course, to read the passage and study it beforehand!

What do you think of it? Can you see it working for you?

Based on my 28 Stories journals and Peter Roenfeldt's Bible study bookmarks.

Friday, July 07, 2023

What is the Bible?

Is every word perfectly chosen, timelessly true, from God and thus worthy of worship, obedience and unquestioning application in our lives? 

 The breakthrough for me was when I realised the Bible was written by man not God. I had always known this in principle but hadn't thought it through carefully. 

 The Bible is 66 scrolls (documents, letters, histories, and collections of prophecy/poetry/wisdom sayings) written by 50+ authors in a diversity of middle-eastern locations over nearly 500 years. It clearly presents and represents the culture and biases of the people writing it. 

 Those scrolls were collected by libraries and read by scholars for the next few hundred years. Various libraries had various scrolls. Very few libraries had copies of all the scrolls considered as scripture. 

 A few hundred years after Jesus, a council of church leaders decided to vote on which of the 80+ ancient scripture scrolls were most likely to be trustworthy and orthodox in teaching. Once the vote was finished they created one codex (book) that included the 66 books voted as truly scriptural. This is the book we call "The Holy Bible" today. It didn't drop from Heaven as a singular finished book.
Recognising God worked through people back then the same way he does now opens up an entirely different way to read the Bible. Who was writing? To whom? Why? What was the goal? What resulted? How does this ancient wisdom apply to my life today? 

 The Holy Bible was set apart by God's people to remind them of how God worked in their past and would keep his promises in their future. The word "holy" means set apart. It's something we do to things we value. The scrolls included in the Bible are holy because humans "set then apart" from other scrolls. 

The Bible is a holy book because we value it, not because it is perfectly inerrant with the authority of God over our lives. To treat the Bible as divine is to turn it into an idol. 

 The Bible was written and set apart by people not God. It is holy not divine. It deserves respect and study but not worship. 

 God alone is worthy of worship.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Revelation's End to the Story - Bible Study

 Download PDF - It makes a lot more sense in the proper format but is too wide for the blog. I've put it below as well so the texts can be highlighted for easy access!

Theme"God is Love"
Bible VersePoint
1 John 4:8God is Love
Revelation VersePoint
Revelation 3:15-20God's love changes us
CharactersGod: Father
Bible VersePoint
John 3:16God SO LOVED us
Revelation VersePoint
Revelation 1:4-8Trinity working together
God: Son
Bible VersePoint
John 15:13Greater love - life for friends
Romans 5:8-9Love: While yet sinners!
John 14:16WTL - Jesus leads to Father
Revelation VersePoint
Revelation 4:11Created all things
Revelation 7:17Shepherd, guide, cares 4 us
God: Holy Spirit
Bible VersePoint
Romans 5:5Pours God's love into us
Ephesians 1:13-14HS is our Seal of Salvation
Luke 4:18-19HS anoints us with Purpose
Romans 8:26-28Helps us speak to God
Revelation VersePoint
Rev 4:5, 5:6"Seven" Spirits = "Holy" Spirit
Is on the Throne of God
ThemeWar against God
Bible VersePoint
1 Peter 5:8Satan destroys people
Acts 5:3Causes us to lie to the Holy Spirit
Revelation VersePoint
Rev 12:17Satan attacks those God loves
Bible VersePoint
John 8:42-44murderer, truthless, liar
Revelation VersePoint
Rev 12:7-9Satan fought God and lost
Beast / AntiChrist
Bible VersePoint
John 3:20Hides from light
Revelation VersePoint
Revelation 13:5-8Unsaved will worship beast
False Prophet
Bible VersePoint
Gal 5:13-15Bite and devour others
Galatians 3:1-6, 13-14HS thru Jesus' gift, not Law
1 Corinthians 2:14Spiritual things are foolish
Revelation VersePoint
Rev 16:13-14Stirs up trouble against God
"Freedom of Choice"
Bible VersePoint
Colossians 3:12-14Love and Forgive in Unity
John 8:47                         orYou are unable to hear God
Revelation VersePoint
Rev 12:11Speak Jesus in the face of Death
Rev 12:12                        orJoin the Devil in his angst
CharactersWorship Who?
Bible VersePoint
Matthew 22:37-40Love God and Mankind
1 Samuel 10:19               orReject God as King
Revelation VersePoint
Revelation 14:7Worship and Glorify the God of love
Revelation 13:4               orWorship those with power on Earth
Follow Who?
Bible VersePoint
John 15:9-12Love as Christ loves
1 John 3:12Defend your right to do Evil
Revelation VersePoint
Rev 13:16Live by the mark of the AntiChrist
Revelation 14:12             orLive by the mark of Christ
Believe / listen to who?
Bible VersePoint
1 John 4:7-12God lives IN YOU if you LOVE
Colossians 2:8You follow hollow philosophy
Revelation VersePoint
Revelation 18:4HS says, "Come out of her my people"
Revelation 22:17HS says, "Come to God and drink water of Life"
Revelation 19:19-21        orbe deluded, worship falsely and loose your life.

Friday, May 05, 2023

The Kingdom of God

Have you ever wondered what the "reward" is in the Kingdom of Heaven? 
Watch this and you'll know what I think! 

I did this talk for Voice Life Fellowship in Toronto, NSW  Australia. 


Thursday, April 20, 2023

Easter: All Things New!

Spring is a time of renewal and new beginnings and for many cultures around the world, it’s a time to celebrate. From the Christian holiday of Easter, the Jewish holiday of Passover, the ancient Persian festival of Nowruz to the Hindu festival of Holi, the arrival of spring is marked by a variety of traditions that all share a common thread of celebrating new life, restoration and a sense of hope.

Though they have largely become festivals celebrated in secular ways, each of these spring holidays were originally holy days—set apart to commemorate significant, meaningful moments of spiritual renewal. The communal hope for their memory and longevity keeps these ancient holidays in practice today.

Food is central to Easter, as it is to all cultural festivals in every part of the world. In Australia, one of the most popular Easter foods is the hot cross bun. These spiced buns are traditionally made with raisins or currants1 and are marked with a cross on top, symbolising the crucifixion of Jesus. Traditionally these buns were not just enjoyed on Easter Sunday, but also on Good Friday as a way to commemorate the day of Jesus’ death.

Published in Signs of the Times - Click here for the rest of the article

Monday, April 03, 2023

Epic Fantasy!

Revelation is filled with High Fantasy. It's worth reading just for the imagery!

Getting into Heaven

You don't get into the Kingdom, the Kingdom gets into you. 
And when it does, everything changes for the better. 
Love takes over and rules from the inside out!

Good vs Evil

It really is this simple. Who will you put first? Yourself? or God and Other People?

How the Gospel Works

John 3:16 - the mustard seed that starts Kingdom growth wherever it is planted!


God, Jesus, the Bible & Us!

The Fall of Lucifer

How Lucifer fell from Heaven...

Cryptic Revelation

The Book of Revelation filled with stories, fantasy and prophecy. 

Why is it written the way it is?

We have a Hero!

Stand behind Jesus. 

He has already won the battle and will defend us until the fighting is finished.

Sunday, April 02, 2023

Identifying Gods People in Revelation 12

God's people are described in 2 ways in Relation 12

Rev 12:17 - How Satan knows who to attack
Rev 12:11 - How God and His People know who they are

Friday, March 31, 2023

Sabbath School Chat 2023Q2L1 Revelation 12

Q3L1 - SS Chat - Revelation 12

I did this live on Facebook just for fun. It's my favourite Bible story!

So, why not! let me know what you think.

This is the story of the great red dragon representing Satan who tried to kill baby Jesus and tried to overthrow Heaven. It's high fantasy! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Kingdom Citizenship

When we take ownership of our citizenship we live more boldly and honestly. 
This is a story about my son learning to drive and follow the rules correctly!

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Look up and Love


A conversation in a market in Gympie, Queensland turns into a teaching moment for us all.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

The Dragon Story - my favourite to tell


Why footwashing is important!


Hold steady, hold light: A driving illustration from my holiday

A story from a recent road trip with a value attached. 

Aside from the one in the video, there are a few teaching points to be drawn from this little story.

Signs: What are the signs, for you, that stress is coming? How far between the signs and the black sand? Are the signs well-made and clear?

Black Sand: What has been the black sand in your life? What were the dark patches? What strategies did you use to make it through? Does black sand always come with woopty-doos?

Normal: Tell of a time when things were 'back to normal' but still didn't feel right. What are some of the things that get stuck in your tread for a while?

GPS: What's yours? Where's it leading you? Is the fastest way really the best way? What are your goals when travelling - fast, new, lots of sites, the back roads?

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Daddy, UP!

Teaching Kids about God's Love and Prayer isn't hard if you get them involved. Try this!

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

An open letter to the pastors at the 2023 AUC Minister's Meetings

 Dear Pastors,

I write to you as you gather at Avondale for your quinquinial Australian Union Conference ministers meetings.

Two decades ago, on Sabbath morning, I told the children's story at Avondale during the divine service at the minister's meetings. If you were there, perhaps you remember John the Baptist recounting his nightmare about a seven headed dragon. Storytelling was and is my passion.

Over the next ten years, I went through severe faith deconstruction. The apex of which occurred during my time as Associate Editor at Signs Publishing. I went through it alone. I spent many a drive home from Warburton calling to God and waiting for an answer. I even tried the silent treatment and listened for a still small voice. As you might expect, I heard nothing.

There was no one spiritually mature and safe to whom I could talk. My ministerial secretary was perfect and distant, as were all the men at the top. That seemed to be the way to survive. So, I tried. I joined the acting game. 

I didn't want my storytelling to end but there were fewer and fewer topics on which I could preach or write with honesty. I read old scripts, danced old jigs. And in my private time I devoured books by McLaren, Campbell, Rohr and Spong. I needed to find God. I needed to find myself. Both were shadows of who they once were.

January 4, 2013 a brain tumour was safely removed from my auditory nerve. It left me deaf on that side with severe tinnitus but otherwise normal in appearance. My energy levels were massively depleted as the neurosurgeons said they would be. For three months, I took all my sick leave as I couldn't drive and stayed home on doctors orders, to recover.

One year later, to the day, I was removed from ministry permanently. 

So, what happened during that year? The three months of recovery were bliss. Too tired to do much, I laughed with my family and ate every meal at home. I decided to be honest. When asked to go back to work, I would tell them who I really was. I would tell them what I believed and didn't believe. 

When the call came, two churches - one small and one as assistant to a power pastor, I said exactly… nothing. During that year, I rode my motorcycle too fast. Numerous corners nearly took me. I spiralled into spiritual self loathing. One day I told my wife she would leave me if she knew what I really believed. She disagreed vehemently! And then, in my private thoughts, I wondered if I still had the old charm. So I tried. And I failed by succeeding. 

January 4, 2014 I received a phone call from the conference President. We met in a McDonalds birthday party room. Our family had just moved so I could take a full time school chaplaincy role. When the President, General Secretary and power pastor asked me why, I told them everything. All the above but in greater detail. It felt blissful to unload a decade's burden! I talked and talked. The General Secretary commented that I seemed relieved not upset. True. Finally someone was listening and I couldn't be punished for my deconstruction. 

My risk taking could have been partly a result of surviving brain surgery. It happens. But, it was definately a result of my faith deconstruction. The broken me was being unbroken and didn't want to go back into the paddock. I didn't want to sacrifice my new found freedom and honesty to return to the cowardice of the past. And so I bucked at the system's reigns. I took risks. Big ones. And I was fired, guilty as charged. 

I went home with my tail between my legs. I'm grateful I wasn't brave enough to wrap it around my neck as some do. I went home where I was loved into accepting reconciliation. I was forgiven the moment I confessed. I still don't fully understand it. Much as I struggle to understand the cross, even though there is no better place to fall.

I've been told by others that I didn't deserve mercy. Duh. One pastor's wife told me her husband would be on the street after she emasculated him (not her words), should he ever dare! A decade later, she obviously still believes he is perfect as he remains intact. 

A year later, while attempting to share a devotional I was writing on healing, a pastor told me if he were to help me it would send the wrong message. He said he wasn't sure how much time needed to elapse before He could be seen helping me. He didn't want to be unfit for duty in the temple, I guess.

The laity have been kind and accepting, welcoming me into their ranks with inclusive embracing arms. Over all, I've come to realise we teach and preach forgiveness well enough for the people to understand and act. And as I have listened to them over the past decade, even deconstruction is welcomed and expected. The discussion is vibrant.

Unfortunately, pastors are human. Deconstruction is part of maturity. This means, pastors who mature deconstruct and rebuild their faith. The needs for nonjudgmental mentoring, safe policies and empowering procedures for pastors with questions still remain unmet. Room to breathe and a safe place to debrief is desperately needed.

And thus, pastors in deconstruction manifest a variety of unhealthy behaviours. 

In the pulpit: Poor preaching. Flimsy exegesis. Pathetic proofs. Weak point, pound pulpit. 

In the home: Disconnection.  Impossible expectations. Fake smiles. Do as I say, not as I do.

In the heart: Anxiety. Depression. Loneliness. Unbalanced relationship with God. From broken vessels that hold nothing - to - being so heavenly minded you're no earthly good.

I write to you not because I want back in. I'm much safer and healthier out here. I'm a better Christian now that I've come through my rebuilding phase. 

I write to you because keeping our heads in the sand is killing pastors. We loose them to safer professions. We loose them in deconstruction. And, shockingly, we even lose them to death. The Seventh-day Adventist church must stop killing pastors.

While you are gathered this weekend, demand better. Your leaders have titled this gathering "The Empower Ministerial Convention." May it live up to its name. Pastors are deeply loved by God. It's time we started treating them that way.

Yours in Faith,

Dave Edgren

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,...