What four words will stop even the most “active” child in his footsteps? When asked this question at a conference last weekend I thought of… ‘I love you’—no, that’s three words… ‘Time for dinner!’—three words again… ‘Stop right there young lady!’—five words… When the speaker told us the answer the audience responded as one voice, “of course!” So, what are the four words?
Once upon a time…
Those four words have captured imaginations, young and old, from the beginning of time. The master storyteller can sway the direction of a culture, for good or for ill. Our kids hear stories in a plethora of venues and their young minds are being shaped by what they read and hear.
The speaker also asked what movies have had the most negative impact on our culture. Horror movies or extreme violent movies were common answers. Mine was a bit different. Movies that erode our view of God are far more dangerous than violence and horror alone.
Bridge to Terabithia blatantly attacked the idea that Jesus is the only way to God and taught that a truly loving God will let you in to Heaven simply because you’re cute and sweet. I doubt most parents picked up on it, but I assure you the message was logged into your child’s brain and will re-surface one day…maybe in college? The Golden Compass also came to mind. The movie was extremely well done and shrewdly effective at undermining who God really is.
Read what your children read and watch what your children watch. It’s time consuming and it can be boring (I’m not interested in most of the shows they like), but it’s the only way to know what stories are filling their minds and shaping their hearts. My kids read much faster than me now, but I still try to skim most of the books they read. I want to be able to talk about it with them and help them think through the truth of what they’re reading.
The next time you cuddle up with your family to watch a movie or read a book, ask yourself, “What is this communicating about the character of God?” and then talk about it with them. These “Once upon a time” moments will prove precious and powerful!