Blog Archives

Can I Tell You a Story?

Just like the post below, I believe in the power of a story to teach. I’ve got to admit that as a young parent, it is easy to default to the “lecture” format, but I’ve found that telling a story, whether real or make-believe, has been very powerfully effective. My friend, Jesse Smith, shares some great insights in “Once Upon a Time”:

There once was a little boy…
Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far way…
It was a dark and stormy night…

We all recognize these beginning, they are popular beginnings for a story. They immediately peak our interest, there’s something coming, something interesting. Stories have power – they break down barriers, open our hearts, and get us thinking.

As a father, I’ve found that story is one of the best, if not the most powerful, tool I have. When my children have added to the rules, tries to pit mom against dad, or any number of things they’ve often heard a story. Sometimes it’s a story from the Bible and other times its from another source (or just made up) but the message is almost always clarified by story.


It’s not a lecture
As parents we want our children to not only understand the rules but the reason for those rules. Often our response to an infraction is overly wordy. At a time when the child just wants to escape your wrath a lecture falls on deaf ears – they just want out. A story opens a new world, a place to escape and a place where they have some control.

In a story there is a chance to explore both sides, a place to talk about solutions – a place for discussion.

When we have a culture of story telling, our children not only hear stories when there is a problem, but all the time. Stories stick with us and when a similar situation occurs, children have a better idea of what will happen as a result of their choices. They can connect to the characters and that starts of joruney oof wanting to model for others.

Stories are natural
Simply put, we’re wired to remember stories. Think about how easy it is for them (or you) to quote their favorite movie or show. They can remember what Blue weeks ago said but not what Mom said 7 seconds ago because stories naturally connect.

A Place to Explore
Stories promote thinking. They are a safe place to think about what loss feels like or what it means for a child to be disabled. Children can easily explore their emotions and behaviors without serious consequence.

If you’re looking for a place to start, I suggest that you pick up a few story books from your library and have a bed time story. If you feel like they might be too old for a bed time story, read the books yourself. Think about how the story flows so that you can begin to form your own stories so you don’t sound like you’re lecturing all the time.

Then, when you’re ready to go to a new level, pick up The Jesus Storybook Bible. This is, by far, the best storybook bible that I’ve read. It mad me cry more than once. It’s full of great models for our children and could easily become your child’s favorite book.

Another plus is that it’s more theologically sound than many storybook bibles out there. It’s not simply a collection of stories; it’s an overview of the primary theme of scripture.

How could you use stories in your home?

via Orange Fathers



Even before I was the children’s pastor @ Hayward Wesleyan, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed approaching the Bible as a story, a narrative. After all, the primary form God chose to communicate His Word was through stories (remarkably not a “systematic theology” textbook!). Now, after over 7 years worth of Bible story-telling, I’m more convinced of this historically-proven and time-tested methodology of “storying.”

It’s funny to me… telling Bible stories as stories shouldn’t be rocket science. It’s fairly simple to accomplish. The trick is to believe in it. What I mean by that is: most churches children’s ministries and its curriculum are primarily focused on principles to be taught (and remembered), life lessons to be learned, and topics to be addressed (as developmentally appropriate). Curriculum companies (thus churches by default, it seems) approach educating children from topics and principles first, then picking Bible stories to support that particular lesson. While not an all-together bad approach, it seems, in my opinion, to be the wrong order of things. Perhaps approaching the Bible stories first and letting the stories speak for themselves (across time and particular ages) is more of the appropriate order.

It’s tricky because you have to do more work to apply things, and you have to trust that what God wants to teach the students as they participate in your children’s ministry (or youth ministry) will be His particularly special scope and sequence, and not necessarily ours.

Below are some links I’ve come across of people who participate in “storying”:

Any others?

Judge Samson (story & video)

y2_w08-9 - Judge Samson

The cycle of sin continues. The Israelites have been around the cycle 11 times up to this point. Samson (the next Judge) is the 12th. I don’t think the Israelites are quite getting what the LORD wants them to get: ‘To be the special representatives of God in the world to show the world what He is like.’ Samson is tasked with a lifelong charter: To make war against the Philistines. And he did. Samson was a continual thorn in the eye of the Philistines. They eventually got to him, and he eventually got to them.

Note: it’s a long video (30 minutes) because originally we broke Samson’s story into 2 parts (beginning and early parts of his life and exploits, and his interaction and demise at the hand of Delilah and the Philistines). However, because of the combined church service @ lco we did not have Main Street that week, so we just combined the 2 parts this past Sunday.

source Vimeo

Judge Gideon (story & video)

y2_w07 - Judge Gideon

After learning about Judge Deborah from last week, you would think that the Israelites would realize that if they OBEYED and followed God, then their lives would be what God wants for them: to be His light to the nations as His kind of people. Sadly, the Israelites choose to do evil in the sight of the LORD right after Deborah died. So the “Cycle of Sin” continues:

The LORD God sends some pretty bad people to make trouble and hurt the Israelites–the Midianites. While in hiding, the LORD God gets the attention of a man named Gideon and encourages his to stand up and fight. Gideon becomes the next Judge and does some interesting good and bad things in the process. One thing we’ve been telling the students as we talk about the cycle of sin is that it’s a downward cycle… and the judges will be getting worse and worse themselves.

source Vimeo

Jacob’s Story (video)

Last week @ msy YOUTH (middle school youth group @ Hayward Wesleyan) we went over the story of Jacob found in Genesis 25, 27-33. Our current intern, Sarah, and I, read through a graphic Bible story book and narrated the characters throughout Jacob’s story. I cut it all together with pictures from the book and we showed it to the students last week. We were looking for a way to share Jacob’s whole story but do it in an exhaustive, but succinct way. This worked.

We also did the story of Joseph last week as well. We used The Skit Guys to tell that story (found here).

I ended up comparing the two characters – Jacob and Joseph – as we navigate our way through the story of the Bible this year @ msy YOUTH. Jacob displayed an overall negative, disobedient and deceiving role throughout his life, while Joseph displayed integrity in the various places the LORD God led him on his rise to power and influence in the land of Egypt.

The interesting thing about these two prominent men in the book of Genesis is that God used them both in his overarching plan to “fix this world through his kind of special people in order to make his kind of world.” He used Jacob’s deception to His end, and He used Joseph’s integrity to His end. I guess the question is: what kind of person do you want to be?

source Vimeo

Judge Deborah (story & video)

y2_w06 - Judge Deborah

The Israelites now have their own land. It is divided up among the tribes/states. Each tribe is tasked with driving out the remaining inhabitants of the land. But they fail. Over and over again in the last 10 chapters of Joshua, each tribe fails to dislodge the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. We asked the Main Street students what happens when bad people are around good people… and they answered: “Bad stuff.” Yep.

The opening 2 chapters of the book of Judges detail each tribes failure to dislodge as well as the “Cycle of Sin” which is where Israel does good for a while, then does bad (they do evil in the LORD’s eyes), God allows a foreign power to conquer/occupy them, the Israelites cry out for help, God raises up a deliverer/rescuer/judge to save them, they are saved, and they enjoy peace and goodness for a while… until they choose to do evil in the LORD’s sight again, and the “Cycle of Sin” starts all over again.

Deborah is the fourth Judge in the book of Judges. She follows Othniel, Ehud and Shamgar. Deborah is tasked by the LORD to rescue Israel from King Jabin and his commander Sisera. Deborah has her own commander, Barak, who when asked to go into battle and defeat Sisera, pleads with Deborah to accompany him. They rout Sisera’s troops, but Sisera escapes and finds his way to the tent of a woman named Jael. Jael lures Sisera into her tent and he goes to sleep, which is when Jael drives a tent spike through his temple and kills him. Then the land had peace for 40 years… until the Israelites sinned again.

source Vimeo (1), Vimeo (2), Vimeo (3)

Dividing the Land and Caleb’s Story (story & video)

y2_w05 - Dividing the Land and the Story of Caleb

After a “divide and conquer” campaign, Joshua begins to divide out the Promised Land to the various 12 tribes with the charge to continue to root out the inhabitants of the land.

One man, Caleb, one of the original 12 spies, asked Joshua for his inheritance. You see, God promised Joshua and Caleb an inheritance because they gave a good report (Numbers 13). Caleb asks to take on the Anakites (the giants of the land), the ones that the other 10 spies were afraid of. Caleb displayed an enduring faith (he waited for 45 years) and great courage (to go up against the Anakites).

source Vimeo


Last night I had to put Macie in time out for some reason. While I was putting her in her crib, Sari said something that Amanda told me when I returned to the kitchen:

“I don’t like Daddy, he likes to put things in time-out.”

“I better eat something…”

The other day we were driving in the car somewhere and Sari starts complaining about needing to eat something because she was hungry. We informed her that we didn’t have anything at the moment, to which she replied:

“I better eat something or I’ll be dead.”

Sari pokes fun @ Christmas

When I was driving the girls to the airport yesterday for their flight to Spokane, Sari asked about Christmas time: “When is Christmas?”

“Not for another 3 months, Sari.”

“But I want Christmas now!” she tells us.

“Nothing we can do, honey. We’ll make sure you don’t miss it when it comes.”

She’s quiet for a few seconds, then she tells us: “I want presents from the fat man @ Christmas!”

We laughed for a while!

Rahab and the Spies (video)

Main Street | Sunday, September 5, 2010 | Year 2 – Week 1 | Rahab and the Spies

Rahab and the Spies (story)

y2_w01 - Rahab and the Spies

Sunday, September 5, 2010, in Main Street, we kicked off the school year with the continuation of the Bible stories from last year. At the end of the school year (back in May) we left the Israelites on the edge of the Promised Land (Canaan). Moses had just given his “going away” speech, because was not going to be making the journey into the Promised Land due to his disobedience.

The story opens with the LORD talking with Joshua, encouraging him in leadership and strength as well as obedience. The LORD reminds Joshua of the Abrahamic Covenant (the 3 p’s as the students in Main Street know): People (the Israelites), Presence (“I will never leave you nor forsake you”), and Place (promised land, canaan).

Joshua sends 2 spies in to the city of Jericho to gather information. They almost get caught but a woman named Rahab hides them on her roof and sends the guards off looking in the hills. Rahab communicates the fear of the inhabitants of Jericho because they know that the LORD God of heaven and earth is fighting for the Israelites. She asks to be saved from the coming destruction because she helped them. They agreed.

The spies return to Joshua and the Israelite camp (on the edge of the Jordan River).

Read Joshua 1:1 – 2:24

Warrior Macie!

Last night Macie was coloring with markers at the table, and we weren’t watching her (usually she’s fine).  Amanda was in the bathroom doing something with Sari and Macie went in there, too.  Amanda started laughing hysterically and sent Macie to see me in the living room.  It was really funny!  For the next hour we were calling Macie, William Wallace (from Braveheart)!!

When my teeth get bigger

A couple days ago, Sari and I were searching for a movie that Amanda wanted to watch.  At one of the video stores in Hayward, there is a big gumball machine right when you walk in.  Sari gravitated toward this colorful object and said:

“Hey Dad!  When my teeth get bigger, can I have one of those?”

An Internet Fast (unintentional)

This wasn’t on purpose.  I love my cellphone.  It’s a smartphone that’s capable of fetching emails as well as simple internet searches and reading, in addition to calendaring, unlimited contacts and other “media-related” stuff.  Along with my wallet and keys, this phone is always in my pocket.

Not the last 3 days.  I was trying to make a call before we got into the motor home for our trip to Wenatchee, WA to go camping with my friends from college and my phone was locking up on me, so I set it in a compartment in the truck.  And for those of you who know what it’s like loading up the supplies it takes to take 2 toddlers on a 3 day trip away from home, you know how long and arduous it would take to transfer to the motor home.  It wasn’t until we were about 10 miles down the road that I was going to have Amanda look up our route on Google Maps on my phone, when I realized that I had left my phone in the truck.

Bummer.  I suppose I could have justified turning around and going back to get it, but that was silly because I didn’t really need it.  So basically, I didn’t have access to email and the internet for 3 days.  It was good for me.  I didn’t know or realize how “mentally”, “behaviorally”, and “habitually” I am connected to the internet.  It was good for me to experience this 3 day fast.  Weird and unsettling, but good for me.  It’s not that the INTERNET is bad.  My dependency on it is what is unhealthy and why it was so good for me to be away from it for a couple of days.

I wonder if these kind of experiences (intentional or unintentional) help reveal things about our character?  I wonder if we ever pay attention to these kinds of things?  Do you?  Is it worthwhile?