Posted March 20, 2013
The release of Theo’s Home Edition (“God’s Truth,”) really excites me, because it truly displays Theo’s core mission: “Teaching Children God’s Word!”
I say this because the Home Edition not only comes with three entertaining biblical lessons (Abiding in Christ, Lamp Unto My Feet, What is the Church), but it also includes a special 12 page Parents Guide that will help dads and moms establish a daily family devotional time with their children. In a nutshell it makes studying the core doctrines of the Christian faith fun and easy to learn!
Did you know that studying the Bible together as a family is not optional, or something to leave to the Sunday School teachers? Our heavenly Father commands parents to personally teach their children the Scriptures. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says this: “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons (children) and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (NASB).
The word in this passage for “teach diligently” means to impress upon, to engrave, pierce, or to sharpen a sword. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” It’s the same idea. This kind of one-on-one teaching contact between a parent and child, is how a child is sharpened in his/her knowledge of God, and spiritual character.
Such contact is deliberate, intentional. It is daily.
We are to talk about God with our children when we rise up in the morning, when we go to bed at night, when we sit down in our homes, when we walk in the way. In other words, we are to teach our children continuously, both inside and outside our homes. This can happen in a daily family devotional time, when we walk together through our busy days––it can happen at a ballgame. But teach we must!
It’s never too soon (or late) to start.
How we live before our children, without ever speaking a word, what activities we do and how much time we devote to them, will model what’s most important in life to our children––what they will “hide in their hearts” (Ps 119:11). If we diligently teach our children the Scriptures, if we model godly lives before them, they will learn and treasure God’s Word in their hearts. However, if we don’t do these things, then God will likely not be important to the child when he or she leaves home. Other things will be.
What excites me about Theo’s Home Edition is that I believe it will help parents connect with their children in a daily family devotional time, giving them tools that will aid in teaching their children about God, about the Christian life, and how children (and parents) ought to live in the light of His Word.
Athletes are gifted people with talents that lift them head and shoulders above the crowd. Most of us have run a race at one time or other in our youth. Perhaps it was in school, or in the YMCA or YWCA. Perhaps it was racing our neighborhood friends up and down the sidewalks. It might have been a race in the local swimming pool or to see who was the fastest. Children love to race one another. So do adults––consider the various marathons and 10Ks. It is in the human DNA to excel. To win!
I love Eric Liddel's line in the movie "Chariots of Fire." He is explaining to his sister Jenny why he must postpone his involvement in the family ministry in China in order to compete in the 1924 Olympics. "God made me for a purpose...He made me fast...to not run would be to dishonor Him..." Here's the great line: "When I run I feel His pleasure." It still gives me goosebumps. I don't know if the real life Eric Liddell ever spoke those words, but they certainly reflect his life.
For those of you who have not heard Eric Liddell's incredible story, he was known as the Flying Scotsman. His story gained international attention because he would not run a qualifying heat for the 100 meter run in the 1924 Olympics because that heat was scheduled for a Sunday. The 100 meters was Liddell's best event, and yet because of his religious convictions he would not run in the heat and so was disqualified. He later ran the 400 meter (see photo) and won the gold. Incidentally, the paper roll in Liddell's right hand was given to him at the start of the race by an American trainer. The note read, quoting 1 Samuel 2:30: "Those that honor me I will honor."
Liddell's testimony honoring God did not stop with the Olympics. In 1925 he went back to China to work in the family mission, winning converts to Jesus Christ among the Chinese people. Years later, during World War 2 and the Japanese occupation of China, he was interned in a Japanese camp. There he spent the remainder of his life ministering to others, organizing games to boost morale, teaching Bible classes, sharing his food rations. He even gave up his place to go home in a prisoner exchange to a pregnant woman. He died in in that internment camp in 1945, just five months before the end of the war. Eric Liddell ran his race well for Jesus. I wonder what was his greatest victory: winning the gold medal in the 1924 Olympics, or serving Jesus in that internment camp. He certainly brought glory to his Savior's name in everything he did.
We are not all runners, we are not all gymnasts, swimmers or divers, but we are all athletes. Spiritual athletes. We each have a spiritual gift or talent that God has given us to glorify Him, gifts that need exercising. It doesn't matter If you are a homemaker, a computer technicion, a teacher, or laborer, fireman, soldier or policeman or filmmaker, whatever you do do it as unto the Lord. Do it with all your might. When you do you will feel His pleasure. Why? Because that is how God has made you.
And when the day comes that we cross the finish line, may we say as the Apostle Paul said, "I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing" (2Timothy 4:7-8).
Now that the 2012 Olympics have officially opened in London, and the games begun, I thought I would share an Olympic memory of my own. During the 1984 summer Olympics, held in Los Angeles, the torch bearer ran past our church on Sunday morning (see photo). Spectators lined the street on either side, including my wife and children. The tip of the flame looks like it's touching my son Brandon's stomach (kid in red trousers, blue shirt). My wife Cathy's behind him, me with my daughter Shannon on my shoulders. We anxiously awaited the police escort and motorcade, followed by the runner carrying the Olympic torch.
As we waited, our necks craning to see up the street, my daughter asked not once, but several times, "Is the flame coming soon?" To which I would reply, "Any minute now, sweetheart. Be patient." Finally we heard the distant shouts and siren squawks that let us know the torch-bearer was nearing our position. The shouts became progressively louder and louder. It's coming, the torch is coming! The excitement among the spectators was infectious. My kids were ecstatic. Finally we could see the flashing lights of the advance police escort. "Here it comes!" Cheers and applause went up on either side of the road as the torchbearer ran past. The pride and joy was apparent on the face of the chosen runner. What an honor for her.
As you may know the torch is carried from its place of origin in Olympia, Greece, where, according to Greek mythology, the god Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and carried it to the Olympic games. The modern tradition of carrying the torch from Greece to the venues of the Olympics actually began in the 1936 games, held in Berlin. The parallels to Christianity are worth noting.
On the day of Pentecost, soon after Jesus ascended into Heaven, He poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the gathering of believers at Jerusalem, and the Church was born. Tongues of holy fire alighted upon each head. Unlike the mythical Prometheus, Jesus didn't steal this fire from His Father; the Holy Spirit was His gift to every believer. Since that blessed day believers, one at at time, have "carried the torch" of the Gospel from Jerusalem, to all of Judea, to Samaria, and to the outermost parts of the earth. Finally, 2000 years later, the torch has been passed to you and me.
I became a Christian because of a faithful torchbearer, you became a Christian because of a faithful torchbearer, and so on down the long relay of believers passing the torch. Each Christian is a link in an unbroken chain of torchbearers that go all the way back to the lighting of the Flame at Pentecost. Think of it!
We may think at times that we are alone as we carry the torch for Jesus, sometimes down barren stretches of lonely road. But we're not. The writer to the Hebrews says that "we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1). All of heaven is watching us bear the torch––departed saints, angels, and most importantly...Jesus Himself! "I will never leave you nor forsake you," He promised. The witnesses are cheering us onward, upward. Can you hear their joyous voices? The sound of their applause? If only God would open our eyes, as He did King Jehoshaphat, and we could see the heavenly hosts that line the path of our spiritual journey.
Are you a torchbearer for Jesus? Are you full of the fire of the Holy Spirit? What an honor for each of us to carry the torch for King Jesus. More than just carrying the torch, we are privileged to pass the torch to our family and friends. Chin up, believer. Take long confident strides. Imagine the shouts and applause when you finally cross the finish line!
My wife Cathy and I were married in May of 1975, between my sophomore and junior year of Bible college. That summer we flew back to visit my parents in West Virginia so that they could meet Cathy. Before leaving our little apartment in Scotts Valley, California, I had secured a part time job at a local plastics factory. I wasn't supposed to start for a couple of weeks, so a trip to visit the folks seemed like a good idea, especially since they were paying the airfare.
When we got home I started work immediately at the factory, however, Cathy became terribly ill with the flu. To make matters worse, I wasn't due to get my first paycheck for about a week, and our cupboards were bare, except for an almost empty box of cornmeal. I remember thinking I wished we had some chicken noodle soup for Cathy, for I knew it would make her feel better. But the cornmeal was all we had. So I proceeded to make a pan of cornmeal bread. I burned it horribly. The last of our food and I ruined it. It was definitely one of those pathetic "What am I going to do, God?" moments. I'm the man of the house. My wife is sick. I'm a total failure. Some provider I turned out to be.
I went into our bedroom and gave Cathy the bad news. Then I did the sensible––and manly––thing: I prayed, asking God to help us. Cathy could do little more than nod her head as I said "in Jesus' name, amen." Little did we realize, but God had already answered our prayer, even before we prayed. I went to the front door on my way to work, and there on our doorstep were two bags full of groceries! I could scarcely believe my eyes. Inside one was a handwritten note that read: From a Christian brother.
It was amazing because we had told no one of our predicament. It was summer vacation so most of the students had gone home until the fall term. But someone––a Christian brother––was listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit that morning, prompting him to go to the market and buy groceries for Mike and Cathy Joens. They are in need. Thankfully, this brother was not only sensitive to the Spirit's prompting, but he acted upon it. Further, he purchased everything we needed: bread, milk, eggs, hamburger helper, bananas––the works. And wouldn't you know it, at the bottom of one of the bags was a box of Lipton's chicken noodle soup! I get weepy just thinking about it. What a wonderful God we serve.
We used up most of those two bags in a few days, and yet it was still a couple of days before I would get paid. Then, once again, as I was on my way out the front door to go to work, I found yet another bag of groceries on the doorstep! It replenished our dwindling supplies wonderfully. We never received a fourth bag––didn't need it. God supplied our need through a regular paycheck. What a loving, gracious lesson our Heavenly Father taught that young newlywed couple. Trust Me. I know your every need.
"Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matt 6:31-33).
p.s. We never did find out who the Christian brother was, though we made several inquires. But God knows who he is and will reward him on that glorious Day! Let us be careful then to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Not only listen, but to trust and obey!
By Michael Anderson
At the end of July, the world’s greatest athletes will be converging on London for the 2012 Summer Olympics. We will see the end product of four or more years of blood, sweat and tears, as these athletes have prepared their bodies and minds for this one event.
I wish we could see their training before hand. I wish we could see every mis-step, every fall, every failure, as they were training, not to scoff, or to make myself feel better by their failures. But because I want to see how they get up. What did they tell themselves when they fell in order to get back up? What mind games did they play at their breaking point to push themselves to keep going? Sports psychology is fascinating because, among other reasons, it has a lot to teach us about life in general.
Paul thought so too. Which explains why he uses so many sports analogies in his descriptions of the spiritual life. In one of his most famous uses, Paul says, “For I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for me to departis at hand. I have competed well;I have finished the race; I have kept the faith! Finally the crown of righteousness is reserved for me. The Lord, the righteous Judge, will award it to me in that day – and not to me only, but also to all who have set their affection onhis appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8, NET)
The Greek Myth about King Sisyphus tells of how he is punished by the gods to roll a huge boulder up a hill and then forced to watch it roll down. Unfortunately, he is forever doomed to repeat this action over and over again. The idea behind this story has haunted people through out the ages. “What if my life is like Sisyphus’ life? What if there is no meaning to what I do? How do I know that I am accomplishing anything of significance?”
There is great news for Christians. What we do has significance. Eternal significance. When we strive as Paul strove, there is prize waiting for us. When we suffer and push ourselves beyond what we think we can manage, when we are poured out like a drink offering, we do nothing in vain. Even those olympians who strive so hard for glory will eventually lose it. However, our glory is anchored in the Eternal and Unchanging God of the universe.
By Michael Anderson
Both my wife and I were very easy-going and compliant children (at least according to our parents). So, naturally, we assumed that our children would be the same. But God had other plans. I love my daughter dearly but she is a stubborn little girl. When we give her instruction, we can practically see the wheels moving in her head as she decides whether or not she is going to obey. I remember, during those really difficult first few months, turning to my wife and genuinely asking “why would anyone have more than one of these?”
If it wasn’t for people like my brother (father of five) and other’s who had walked the same path, I’m not sure how I would have made it through that time. As a young father it is so important for me to have more mature fathers giving me encouragement and direction. It makes me a better father and a better man. As the cliché goes, “There are no lone ranger Christians”. This is especially true in parenting. We need mentors, even if for no other reason than to tell us “it will get better, it won’t always be like this”.
As you think about it, who are those people in your life? Praise God for them. If you can’t think of anyone like that, we would urge you to seek out more mature parents to take you under their wing and care for you. We promise you won’t regret it.
Happy Independence Day to all our countrymen. God bless America and may God bless you and your family this July 4th.
For believers in Jesus Christ, we belong to a deep and more important group: The Body of Christ. And it is as a member of that group that I am grateful to also belong to the United States, a country which still allows me to worship and follow Jesus Christ with relatively little fear of death or imprisonment. So today, in addition to praying for our country, we would like to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who belong to countries in which they cannot freely worship Christ without fear for their lives. May God bless and protect them.
Daniel is one of the great heros of the Bible. He was a courageous young man in a foreign land. He stayed loyal to the Lord at great personal risk. We all know the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. How there was a law passed that no one could pray to any god other than King Darius. However, Daniel stayed loyal to God and prayed to Him anyway. As a result, he was cast into the lion’s den but was miraculously saved by the Lord.
Daniel accomplished great things for the Lord. He lived a life of courageous faith. He lived the kind of life that we ought to hope for our own children. With this in mind, I would like to highlight one single phrase from that story. It says in Daniel 6:10, Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days (NKJV). Hero’s do not become heroic at the time of conflict. They become heroic through the slow process of deeply ingrained habit. Daniel did not all of a sudden, in the face of danger, decide to serve the Lord. It was “his custom since early days.”
If we desire our children to live lives of courageous faith, we should help them start now. One commandment which has no age limit is Christ’s commandment to “go out and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28). However, sharing Christ can be scary (for adults and kids alike). This is what makes the summer such a great opportunity. Summer is the busiest time in children’s ministry. There are all kinds of fun events for kids and it doesn’t get much less threatening for your son or daughter than bringing their non-Christian friends to these events. What a great opportunity to sit down with your child, strategizing and praying for their friends that they would place their faith in Christ. Helping our children think in this way goes a long way in raising sons and daughters who are wholly committed to the Gospel.
By Michael Anderson
In elementary school, I developed the bad habit of avoiding my father when I needed help with something. Whether it was homework, chores, or putting something together, I knew that my dad wouldn’t allow me to cut corners and often made me take the route that required the most work. This frustrated me. I thought of his instruction as hoops to jump through rather than as important steps to my success.
We see this same attitude in King Saul. His first mistake that took him out of favor with God was just before a battle (1 Samuel 13). Saul had been commanded to wait for Samuel’s sacrifice to God before going to battle. But Samuel was late and Saul was getting antsy. Eventually he took matters into his own hands and performed the sacrifice himself. Of course, immediately afterwards, Samuel shows up and condemns Saul for his lack of obedience. When looking at Saul’s behavior, both in this story and elsewhere, he seems to view God’s commands as hoops to jump through. “Let me just do this thing God told me to do [insert eye-roll], then I can get to the real business of being king.”
In contrast, David viewed God as his Heavenly Father, Who lovingly guides and instructs him through His commandments. Rather than seeing God’s commands as a nuisance, David rejoiced in them. He even wrote Psalm 119 (the largest psalm in the Bible) all about what a blessing God’s Law is to him. For David, following God’s instruction wasn’t an interruption to the business of being king, it was the business of being king.
As I have grown up and become a young father myself, I see the method to my father’s madness. I am very grateful for his instruction. Age and experience has taken me from a “Saulish” attitude to a “Davidian” attitude toward his instruction. He loved me and was trying to provide me with all the tools for success.
Happy Father’s Day. Thank you to the father’s who fight the good fight in their children’s lives. They may not appreciate your guidance until they are older, but your efforts will not be lost. May God bless you and your families.
In the The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis (a prequel to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe), the main characters are given magic rings that allow them to travel to other worlds. In the story, they accidentally bring a cabby named Frank to Narnia just as it is being sung into existence by the Christ-character, Aslan.
The Cabby Frank, a christian, has acquired a hardness while in London. He is in the process of being torn down by his experiences there. Lewis describes it as sharpness in his face. But he still has the sense to know, when Aslan is singing, “watchin’ and listenin’s” the thing to do. He sees the beauty for what it is and loves it. “’Glory be!’ said the Cabby. ‘I’d ha’ been a better man all my life if I’d known there were things like this”. In the end, the beauty of Aslan’s creation does its work. “All the sharpness and cunning and quarrelsomeness which he had picked up as a London Cabby seemed to have been washed away, and the courage and kindness which he had always had were easier to see. Perhaps it was the air of the young world that had done it, or talking with Aslan or both.”
Lewis is highlighting an important truth about God. He cares about beauty and He often uses beauty to call people to Himself. For this reason, we believe that beauty is important for your children. In today’s hectic world where practicality is king, we think it is worth exposing your kids to beautiful things. Whether it be nature, art, music or even beautiful stories, God is the ultimate Source of all beauty. So, it is never a waste of time for your children to be around beauty.
This subject is near and dear to our hearts. As we present truths which are essential to the Christian life, we think the quality of our animation and music is also important. Thus, we have made the often impractical decision to never compromise in the quality of our episodes. We hope that not only the truths, but the images themselves would help your children as they are learning more about their Savior, Jesus Christ.
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