Make Memories

19 11 2013

Memories are powerful tools for developing children. Positive emotional experiences where children feel loved and accepted goes along way for them knowing a personal God who loves and accepts them. Conversely, negative emotional experiences where children feel rejected or invaluable may lead to their view of God as being a rejecting or uncaring god. As people who have powerful influence on the lives of children by the emotional experiences we provide, consider how your example shapes their view of God.

Thought Beasts: A Parable

30 04 2013

God spoke to Cain: “Why this tantrum? Why the sulking? If you do well, won’t you be accepted? And if you don’t do well, sin is lying in wait for you, ready to pounce; it’s out to get you, you’ve got to master it.” Genesis 4:7

Our children have many thoughts and feelings that lead to many words and actions. Some beneficial and others…well not so much. They don’t know how to master them. Will you help them learn to control their thoughts so they can use them for good in this world? Will you help them avoid destructive choices? Here’s a story you can tell them!


Once there were two lads preparing to set off on their own and build their first home. The first lad was named Gumble. The second was named Victor. They had their tools and materials to begin setting up to build. They each entered the same vast forest filled with stunning flowers, towering trees, cute animals and…something else. Not long after, there appeared two tiny creatures. They were ugly little beasts. One was drawn toward Gumble and the other was drawn toward Victor.

One rainy day, as Gumble was working on his home, he began to think about the difficulty and dreariness of his work. His beast crept up and latched onto him without him even realizing it. Gumble began to…grumble. He was unhappy about being wet and about having to work in the cold. He was annoyed because of the flies and also because…three little neighbouring pigs and a wolf were being so noisy!

That same day, as Victor was working on his home, he was on the lookout for anything that might slow him down. Victor’s beast drew near, but he was ready. He had listened to the lore and legends about these beasts. One thing he learned about them was that they were the kind of beasts that feed on worthless thoughts. So he equipped himself with thoughts about how happy he’d be to complete his home deep in these beautiful woods.

The beast crept slowly up through the grass toward Victor. He snarled. His brow was furrowed. His teeth and claws were bared. He silently made his way close to Victor. Then…he pounced! …and bounced. You see, though the beast tried to latch on to Victor, it was unable. These beasts cannot cling to worthy thoughts only worthless thoughts. Now Victor had to work in the rain and the mud, with flies, spiders and pigs just like Gumble. But Victor knew how to be…victorious over the beasts. He thought about having a family in his new home and about the ways it could be decorated and the home theatre he would enjoy with ultra bass, crystal clear sound, HD vivid images and even a remote control, where he could watch the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings.

As the days went by, Victor completed his home and lived happily ever after. However, Gumble’s worthless thoughts began to multiply. He thought about his blisters, the searing heat, splinters and even how his sister broke his favourite toy jack-in-the-box back in kindergarten. Now Gumble didn’t pay attention to beast lore and what he didn’t know was that these beasts grow and cannot be seen while latched to a host filled with worthless thoughts. And as beasts grow, worthless thoughts turn to quibbles, quibbles become grumpiness, grumpiness morphs into angst and angst breeds a full-blown case of the heebie-jeebies! To this very day, Gumble’s house lays in an unfinished heap.

“God, I’m So Angry Right Now! (Uhh, is that Okay?)”

17 10 2011

I’m not really a poet, but I am very interested in presenting truth in memorable ways. I’ve appreciated revisiting biblical poetry in the Bible interpretation class I’m currently taking. This skill is helpful when studying the psalms as well as wisdom literature. Understanding the full art of Hebrew poetry is difficult for English translations, but my fascination for it grows when I realize that these are very well thought out words, phrases and structures. I’m challenged to look deeper into the poetry to discover the fuller meaning. When the poetry is skimmed, there is a certain level of appreciation, however, when the poetry is tasted and explored, the appreciation shoots through the roof! So as I look at the poetry of the psalms, I will be increasingly aware specifically of the various forms of parallelism including synonymous, synthetic and antithetical. Parallelism is essentially how the lines work together. I will also continue to expand my use of word pictures that the proverbs excel at and remember the principle from the book I’m reading called “How to Read the Bible for All its Worth” by Fee and Stuart (p.238): “Proverbs are worded to be memorable, not to be theoretically accurate.”

Looking at the types of Psalms in chapter 11 (p.212-222) of this book, I’m reminded of something I learned a long time ago. The Psalms are examples of prayer to believers. They give us words to flesh out all kinds of prayers to God. The Psalms are meant to show us that it’s okay to express ALL our emotions to God and to express them creatively and thoughtfully. Whether we are angry, elated, depressed, hopeful, desperate or anxious, God wants us to approach him. I think in this process, we can watch God work around us and in us. As Fee and Stuart recommend, “The psalms, therefore, are of great benefit to the believer who looks to the Bible for help in expressing joys and sorrows, successes and failures, hopes and regrets” (p.205).

Poetry is an emotional form of literature. So in this life of faith we are free to experience the whole range of emotions as we express our trust and hope in God. As we embrace this fully, we can also communicate more fully. As we teach and minister we can use poetry and colourful language. In doing this we can engage the heart and mind and awaken people to the artistic and emotional God of the Bible and not the stale, cold and indifferent God that so many have blindly accepted.

Emotional Fruit Salad

21 05 2010

What does this picture do to your emotions?

This past year the children’s ministry volunteers at our church played a game called Emotional Fruit Salad. (You can learn how to play this game by clicking here for your next party!) Some who are, let’s say, a little more conservative, wanted to shoot me I’m sure, but we all had a good laugh by the end of it. The game seeks to help with the expression of extreme emotions. I wanted to emphasize how important it is that we learn to express all kinds of emotions not only in life, but also very intentionally as we serve and teach kids.

Most of us go through life expressing very few emotions. Yet God created us with a great variety of emotions that we can tap into. The emotions in our lives reflect our heart. A mundane emotional face reflects (possibly) an apathetic heart. A bright and cheerful face, however, can reveal a joyful heart.

We are not complete victims of our emotions. Rather, we do have much ability to affect them. Emotions are commanded in Scripture. Our theme verse for the year was this: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good (1 Peter 2:2-3).” We see emotions from birth. Like a baby longs for his mom, we can desperately desire the goodness of God. Such an emotionally packed verse!

So choose to smile big today. Not in a fake or forced sort of way, but because you choose to believe in the abounding goodness of God. This will not only encourage your own heart, but also the hearts of those you meet with every day. Set a goal and see how much happiness you can spread over the next week.

I love Craig Jutila’s take on this in his blog, “Every Day is a Terrible Day.”

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