Posted March 20, 2013
Click here to read the featured article in the April 2012 issue of Parent Life magazine from Lifeway.
Christians have been trying to teach the Bible and theology to their children for two thousand years—with varying degrees of success. Whitestone Media's series Theo Presents makes it look easy. They combine first rate production quality, brilliant animation, and solid biblical content. Rather than dumbing down the faith and the Bible, they make both accessible, compelling, and entertaining to kids. Theo Presents has blessed our family.
Jay W. Richards, Ph.D.
Executive Producer, The Call of the Entrepreneur, and co-author of the New York Times bestseller Indivisible.
Written by: Michael Anderson
I have a confession: I am a weakling. I grew up idolizing the tragic hero. The man or woman who has the deck stacked against them. The one who has every reason to believe they are going to fail, has every reason to be discouraged but still trudges on, does their duty, and fights the good fight. But I realized something, I am just not that guy. I constantly need encouragement.
Recently, my wife and I got home from church and our 10 month old daughter was in a foul mood (I never knew a baby could be so rebellious). She was screaming and carrying on and there was nothing we could do to soothe her. We were dealing with some difficult matters and having a very upset little girl on our hands was doing nothing to help our pain and anxiety. I was getting more and more discouraged until I finally prayed out to God, “Please give us some kind of encouragement; this is just too overwhelming”. But things continued as they were and, eventually, I started asking God “Why wouldn’t You do this for us? Why won’t You encourage us?”
At the end of the day, just before her bed time, I took my daughter for a walk to a park close by and we plopped ourselves down next to our favorite tree. As we sat there with the wind blowing through the leaves and sun setting, I was staring at my daughter as she looked around in wonder at all the new sights and sounds. It was music to my soul. God’s peace at last!
Walking back, I wondered how much of God’s peace I miss out on because I fill my life with noise and activity. My typical strategy for dealing with pain is to distract myself from it. I watch t.v., read a book, work on some project, anything to keep my mind off of the pain and anxiety. Bringing it before God and letting Him speak to me in the midst of it is usually a last resort. When David says of the Lord, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” (Psalm 23:2-3a), he is talking about something deeper and more profound than “He helps me not think about my pain.” If I’m honest with myself, not only is my distraction strategy ineffective, it prevents me from receiving the gift that God really wants to give me: His Peace.
Written by Michael Anderson
I am not a Saint Patrick scholar, nor do I agree with every thing his sect of Christianity claims. But as one raised in an Irish-American family that had corned-beef and cabbage every Saint Patrick’s Day, the holiday has a special place in my heart. There is plenty of myth surrounding Saint Patrick, but here are a few things we do know about him. He was kidnapped by a group of Irish Marauders at the age of sixteen, and taken to Ireland where he became a slave. After several years he escaped and returned to Britain. In Britain he studied to be a priest and became a bishop. Eventually, he felt God’s call to return to Ireland and spread the gospel among the Irish. He says of his return to Ireland:
In his autobiography (Confession), Saint Patrick writes:
I testify in truthfulness and gladness of heart before God and His holy angels that I never had any reason, except the Gospel and His promises, ever to have returned to that nation from which I had previously escaped with difficulty.
He spent almost thirty years sharing Christ on the island until he died.
. . . Without any doubt, in that day we shall arise in the brightness of the Son, that is, in the glory of Jesus Christ, and, all redeemed, we shall be, as it were, the sons of God and co-heirs of Christ, and made like to His image in the future. For from Him, and by Him, and in Him, are all things: to Him be glory for ever. Amen.
It is difficult to read a passage like this without thinking of the many Irish who are “sons of God and co-heirs of Christ” because of the works God accomplished through Saint Patrick. Any choir director will tell you every good choir needs a diversity of voices. Thanks be to God for the many Irish voices which will be singing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come.”
My name is Michael Anderson. I am on staff here at Whitestone Media and in September we released the first DVD of our animated series, Theo. We are all very excited about this project and it is a privilege to be working on it. I hope you will allow me to share my motivation as I do my (very small) part on this project.
When I was in second grade I took part in a school wide choir performance. I don’t remember much of the performance but I do remember singing a humorous adaptation of the song “Don’t worry, be happy”. In the version we sang, instead of “don’t worry, be happy”, we sang “don’t worry, get even”. It was meant to be funny and it was, every time we sang that chorus, I could hear laughing from the crowd. I bring this up not to be hard on my teachers. They gave of themselves every day to their students; they lived the exact opposite of the song’s message. But to a seven year old, who lives in a world that preaches self-satisfaction as man’s highest end, these words were dangerous.
We sometimes think of our beliefs as a kind of grocery list. An idea is presented before me, I weigh it independently and either place it on the “believe list” or not. This is overly simplistic because often the beliefs I have, shape the way I see the world and influence the ideas allowed on my “believe list”. Here’s a silly example, imagine Sally never learns that fire is hot. One day she sees Johnny jumping up and down shaking his hand forwards and backwards next to a lit stove. You or I might come to believe that Johnny has burned his hand. While Sally might believe that Johnny is practicing a new dance. Ideas are the lenses by which we see the world.
In my case, the chorus of that song we sang influenced the way I saw the world, contributing to an incorrect view. I bought into the lie that I should “get it while the gettin’s good” If someone wrongs you, get them back, if they owe you, collect, do whatever it takes to take care of numero uno. The more and more I saw the world in this way, the more that attitude was confirmed in me. But here is the big problem, this is utterly at odds with my Lord when He commands me to lay down my life for others. As I am being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, I am having to change my view of the world.
There is a great danger here, but there is also great opportunity. This is what excites me about Theo. Theo touches on biblical concepts like faith, justification, obedience, forgiveness, and much more. These are concepts that I eventually got around to pre-middle school, but how much more beneficial would it have been for me to be exposed to them earlier?
My great hope with Theo is that children would be exposed to the biblical ideas found in our episodes and those ideas would be shaping the way they see the world and their relationship to it. That is, I pray that their view of the world would be more and more conformed to that of our Savior, Jesus Christ.