July 23, 2012


Three Bags of God's Love

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!

November 08, 2011


My Motivation

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.