Category: Reviews

Because We Eat the Bread

We just had communion Sunday at our church, and after church were on a family drive when Torre piped up in the back, “Daddy, you know that Jesus died for us?”

Matt told him yes, he knew that, and I turned around to ask Torre if he knew why Jesus died for us. Torre nodded solemnly. “Because we eat the bread.”2016-03-24 20.30.54

It was a classic adorable kid moment, and I’ve been turning it over in my¬†mind. I’m not in a panic because Torre doesn’t understand what death means yet, so he won’t comprehend the miracle of the resurrection, and he doesn’t need to grasp the burden of sin before he is able to also grasp its solution. But it reminded me how much I don’t want my kid to get messed up spiritually by growing up in church (nobody wants that, right?). I realize it’s an ongoing process and not something I can just teach once or put some safeguards and pat myself on the back, but parenting is one of the most challenging forms of discipleship I’ve experienced, and it forces me to evaluate my own perspective all the time. How can I teach my three year old truth that can grow up with him, not baby him or stifle him?

We were given a Jesus Storybook Bible when Torre was baptised, and we have just recently started reading it together. This Bible frames all its different stories in terms of God’s great rescue and points toward Jesus, and it incorporates a lot of interpretation to make sense of the stories themselves. In the story of the Fall, this Bible says that Adam andEve’s disobedience caused a terrible lie to come into the world that whispered in the hearts of everyone “God doesn’t love me.”The-Terrible-Lie-2-525x302

This is such a sturdier building block for me to talk about sin and forgiveness from than “disobeying God means we are bad, and Jesus had to die to make us good.” So in the car Sunday afternoon I said to Torre,

“Remember when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and that terrible lie came into the world that God doesn’t love us? Jesus died for us so that we will always know God loves us. Even when we do the wrong thing, God still loves us, and he wants to help us do the right thing. In church we eat that bread to help us remember about Jesus.”

It’s scary teaching kids about God! I don’t want to say anything Satan could ever use as a foothold to accuse or shame my son or any other little ones who I get to teach. I hope that these moments will be instructive for me as well – that as I think through the implications of my explanations I find shards of untruth to pick out like splinters from my own soul.

I’ve been reflecting on this portrayal of sin as the lie God doesn’t love us, and I see how much of the pain we see and feel and cause is rooted in a worldview where God doesn’t see or care for us. It is much easier to be loving and generous and forgiving and hopeful when our identity is drenched in God’s acceptance and love. It is easier to show grace when we view other’s sin as growing out of that lie that God doesn’t love them.

Of course sin is not just a lie we believe; it is an action or attitude with repercussions that ripple outward and corrupt and infect and destroy. The wages of sin are death, and Jesus’s death was not just a declaration of love for us, but also a ransom payment, the purchase of redemption so that we can live for him instead of dying.

I know I will not teach Torre perfectly about God – how could I? I can only teach him what I know, and that is far from perfect. But I do hope that through the words I say (about God and about others) and in the way I live that God will be gracious enough to plant a seed that can take deep roots in Torre’s heart, from which the rest of his faith can grow, and that seed will be “I am always, deeply, loved by God.”

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Book Review: Pups of the Spirit

Pups of the Spirit teaches kids about the fruit of the Spirit by personifying the characteristics as playful puppies! This sounds cute, and the book itself has charming rhymes and engaging illustrations, but I found the spiritual content of the book very disappointing. First of all, the fruit of the Spirit is a thing, not a list of things – the Spirit doesn’t produce nine types of fruit in different people.

In addition to promoting this basic misunderstanding of what the fruit of the Spirit means, the characterization of each pup is oversimplified in my opinion. Kay, the “kind” puppy, likes to knit gifts for her friends and give them away, although they don’t always fit; “peaceful” Pete doesn’t worry or fight, just snoozes in his hammock! These are cute images, and they do give children an example of each quality, but overall I feel that the book is misleading.

“These pups show us how God wants us to be – each with a special trait he likes to see.”

The fruit of the Spirit is not a laundry list of how Christians should act to earn God’s favour – the fruit of the Spirit is the product of God’s work in our lives. Kids are so eager to please, and I think that sometimes adults take advantage of that, telling kids they should behave nicely so that God will be happy and love them more. Unfortunately, that lays the groundwork for kids to feel insecure in their relationship with God when they realize they can’t be perfect all the time. I would be really sad for a child to feel impatient and then wonder whether God is displeased with them because they aren’t showing the fruits of the spirit. Ugh.

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Book Review: Pirates on the Farm

pirates cover picPirates on the Farm, by Denette Fretz, is an entertaining children’s book that teaches a poignant lesson on loving your neighbour. The publisher recommends this book for children ages 4-8, although I think even that age range could be stretched depending on the child. The story is beautifully illustrated (by Gene Barretta) and extremely engaging, through the humorous portrayal of what happens when a crew of pirates moves in to a proper southern community.

Using the perspective of the daughter in the family who lives next door, the author does a great job of showcasing different responses through the different family members: the little brother wants to join in on all the pirates antics, the mom wants to move out of town, and the dad accepts and helps out his new neighbours but doesn’t lose his own identity in the process.

When the town locals finally band together to kick the pirates out of town, a heartwarming twist makes this story not only a parable about accepting others but truly showing the love of Christ.

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Book Review: True Love Dates

Why am I reviewing a book about dating, you might ask. Well, it’s because I received a free copy to do so! But I requested this specific book because I was intrigued at the possibility of it actually having something helpful to say. The thing is, Christians don’t always do a great job of integrating our religious norms with cultural norms in the broader world, and dating is definitely an area where I think we can improve.

So let’s jump in: True Love Dates, by Debra Fileta, identifies itself as “your indispensable guide to finding the love of your life.” Of course, the author pulls a bit of a fast one, since the introduction lets you know this book is not actually about finding love, it is about loving yourself, building healthy relationships and pursuing your relationship with God so that your life is in a good state for whenever that relationship with your future-spouse comes along. There is some good material along the way, an FAQ section at the back, and lots of real-life examples scattered through the book.

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Movie Review: This is the End

On our last night in Victoria, Matt and I saw a movie with friends: This is the End. premise of the movie is that a house party hosted by James Franco is interrupted by the apocalypse, and the celebrities (playing themselves) have to figure out how to survive. If you are considering seeing this ridiculous comedy, don’t read this review yet because there will be spoilers, but know that you are signing up to watch a really irreverent satire of rapture theology and hollywood culture, and brace yourself for a ton of swearing, some sexuality, and more than a little gore. But I’m not saying don’t see it! Just don’t go and see it because I saw it so it must be okay…. Yikes.

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