Why My Kids Don't Read Harry Potter

Friday, June 29, 2018

I know this is going to be a very controversial subject, so please give me a chance to expose my different point of view. I hope it will offer more material for consideration when reasoning about it. My goal is not to make anyone feel outraged, shamed, inferior or filled with negative emotions. This post is not about how anyone feels about Harry Potter, this post is about taking a thousand steps back and looking at this issue from a very distant perspective, apart from personal emotions.

Before I get into further details, I want to openly say that I love literature, books, and words. There is nothing more rewarding than when I walk through bookstores or libraries and feel right at home among book covers lining up shelves. When I was growing up, I was the kid who read all the books from the school's library (a small one,) and in my free time, I used to write stories from my imagination. So, I am not against literature, imagination or stories filled with wonder. 

When you look back through history, there is no difficulty in finding kids books containing magic, witches, and wizards. Thousands of children's stories contained characters who were part of such atmosphere. However, starting with Harry Potter and moving forward, there has been a slight change to the stories. This time, the witches, wizards, and magicians are going to be portrayed as friends, not the enemy. There won't be a clear separation anymore between good and evil, dark and light, helpers and enemies. 

Can you see the twist? Dragons used to be monsters who ate sailors, now they are our kid's best friends. Monsters were kept away from the bedroom at night, now they are welcomed in. Witches wanted to eat the children, now they want to transform our kids into their apprentices. Dark is light, evil is good and enemies are helpers. No wonder our kids are so confused!

The change is not an accident in the literature world or a bigger amount of writers being inspired to dare to be different. This slight twist has a purpose, a very wicked one. Because once the truth is relative, and there is no difference between good and evil, then the existence of a good God is relative, and the existence of an evil Devil is relative, and our children are free to follow whoever they want.

Now, I have heard some dispute saying there is a lot of cuteness to these book's characters, they are not doing real witchcraft and they even teach good life lessons about acceptance, friendship and conquering challenges. I have to agree that it does not look dark at first, but that is exactly the point. Make it fun, interesting and captivating and kids will follow. 

I know what real witchcraft looks like. Growing up in Brazil, across the street from us, lived a witch. Yes, a real one. Many times we could see on the empty lot across the street chicken carcasses surrounded by candles, leftovers of the night sacrifices. Years before that, when I was a baby, my family lived in a town of witches and wizards. The most magic city in my entire country, filled with alternative gods and goddess, and everything in between. Last time I visited my first home, there was an altar built outside by the new owners for night offerings. 

You see, there are a lot of places in the world where kids don't need to go to Universal Studios to see wizards and witches, they live right across the street from them, and the kids know there is a big difference between good and evil. Unless we tell them otherwise. 

My kids don't ask to read Harry Potter because they understand the "why" behind the "what". They know that it is not about books, characters or entertainment. It is about establishing clear boundaries between following the light or following the darkness. Because there is no path in the between. 

However you feel about this subject, take some time to think about it. Start to notice the twist, you will see it everywhere. 

Read More

Dysfunctional Homes - Can You Relate?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Hey Friend,

Let's talk about dysfunctional homes. Do you know homes where everything is off balance? Maybe you grew up in a home like that or maybe you feel your actual home is running in a dysfunctional way. Is there hope?

I like to think of the home of Zacchaeus, in the Bible. Can you imagine how dysfunctional his home must have been? Zacchaeus betrayed his own people for profit and money definitely guided his life. His home was probably isolated from the community and he could not even participate in the Jewish religious activities. There must be a reason why people hated him so much, he was probably not known for his loving and generous personality.

How many homes today are run on the same principle? Homes where the main direction is after money, power, selfish gains, lack of community, greediness, on and on. There is very little love, compassion, and respect going on.

In many dysfunctional homes, everything is done in a forceful and self-serving way. Zacchaeus was probably not the kind of guy who sits around and ponders about things, he was a go-getter. When he hears this important man, Jesus, is in town he runs over there, full speed, with a clever plan in mind. Not wanting to go beyond the text, but it is easy to see how Zacchaeus did not wait for things to happen, he made them happen in his own way.

However, suddenly, Zacchaeus plans turn into an unexpected direction. Zacchaeus did not ask for Jesus to come visit him, he did not plan the dinner meal beforehand, or had his place pumped up for the important visit. He was probably used to tell people what to do, not being told what to do.

Jesus spots him up on the tree and asks Zacchaeus to come down from the tree immediately. As in right now. However, it was not an order for punishment, it was a call for a relationship. Jesus wanted to love Zacchaeus unconditionally. 

Friend, don't underestimate the power of Jesus' love transforming dysfunctional homes like Zacchaeus'. When Jesus enters his home, Zacchaeus life direction shifts dramatically, not out of duty, but out of gratefulness and worship.

Jesus, in fact, did not choose to stay overnight in the functional homes of Jericho. Not at the priest's home, not at the religious dad's homes or any of the crowd's homes.

Friend, the truth is that all of us live in dysfunctional homes. Some of us are aware of it, some of us are blinded to the truth of it. We all need Jesus inside our homes transforming greediness into gratefulness, selfishness into generosity, loneliness into a community, and hatred into love. 

Some homes may look more dysfunctional than others, but aren't we all are guilty of lacking in love, compassion, and respect?

Thankfully, Jesus came to seek and save the lost, because that leaves enough margin for all of us to answer his call!

You may also enjoy reading:

Read More

5 Books to Guide You How To Teach Your Child to Pray

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Hey Friend,

Let's just be honest that many times we hurry through mornings and evenings routines with our kids and don't even have enough time to sit down and just pray. Other times, prayer becomes this memorized five sentences that we go over before bedtime for the sake of covering our basic needs and requests.

Now, if we could really see with our natural eyes the power of prayer, I think we would all right now drop everything and just focus on prayer. Because you see, prayer is more than just words, it is a connection with the very Creator who holds the entire universe in his hands. There is no more important lesson our kids can learn from a young age than to pray!

My boys like to pray for people we know who are going through sickness, difficult times or friends they would like to come to know Jesus. One of my sons also loves to pray for pets we don't even own anymore, bunnies that run around our house and long-lost dogs he only saw once in his life. But that is ok because through prayer they can learn to entrust their hearts in the hands of God, and depend on God for their daily lives and those around them.

It is really a joy for parents to hear childlike voices lifting up their words to God with a simple belief in the power of prayer. We have so much to learn with our kids!

Incorporating family prayer time will look different for each family and season you may be living right now, so regardless of what it looks like for you, make a commitment to have a setup time when you can sit down with your kids and take turns praying. More than any sports practice, school homework or educational activity, prayer is the one thing that will last forever.

5 Books To Guide You How to Teach Your Child to Pray

What Happens When I Talk to God? - When younger, my boys enjoyed reading this picture book.

Prayer Works - This book has great lessons on prayer, you can make it a devotional reading one lesson a day.

I Talk to God About How I feel - It is important for kids to learn that they don't need to hide anything from God.

It will be Okay - When kids feel anxious or stressed out it is wise to sit down with them and pray about it. Let them know that they don't have to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, they can trust God.

Operation World - Why not teach about Geography and the needs of others around the world when praying? I love this book to be able to pray for specific needs for every country. Kids can enjoy looking for the countries on a map.

Read More

How to Achieve your Financial Freedom

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

In a world powered by money, how do you achieve your financial freedom?

What exactly is financial freedom? Working four hours a week? Living from the profits of a great idea? Climbing a mountain and reclusing from society? Erasing all your debt? Retiring early?

Some feel it is the freedom to do what you want without money constraints. Others, to be able to live without working.

How much money do you need to achieve it? Maybe one million dollars is enough for you to achieve financial freedom, while for others, one million dollars may not be enough to cover even their yearly expenses.

Money in my pocket may be finite, but money is really infinite. Because after all money is a number value, an amount that has no limit. Like an endless rope that you pull closer and closer but never reach its end, no matter how fast you run it through your hands. 

If we knew our lives would end tomorrow, would it matter how much money we have to our name? It may benefit our family members, but for us, personally, it is just as much as zero. Because no matter how high your pile of rope is, it does not take you anywhere beyond death. 

So why do we worry so much about money? Not only those struggling to make ends meet but also many billionaires and millionaires who are obsessed with increasing their capital.

Clearly then, ultimate financial freedom is not about cash amounts, personal needs or inner satisfaction. Financial freedom has more to do with the feeling of being one hundred percent in control. Or at least the illusion of being in control.

If it is not by accumulating more money, how do you achieve your true financial freedom? That inner feeling of being free from the power of money or possessions, available to the rich or the poor because money is not the problem, the need for control is. 

Imagine if you carried in your pockets at all times, lots of pebbles. As life progresses, you add more and more pebbles to your pocket. People ask about the pebbles and you tell them that it is very important to own a lot of pebbles because you never know when you will need to pile them up like a mountain, so you can climb high away from serious problems.

Over time, the pebbles start to make holes in your pockets, and as the pebbles slip to the ground you hurry from right to left collecting all the pebbles dropping down. After some decades, you don't even see the sky anymore, or the faces of those around you, as your eyes are always scanning the floor for pebbles. You become so tied down by the weight of the pebbles that one day there is a fire in the house, and you just can't run away because you got to keep all these pebbles in your pockets even when their weight is higher than your strength.

There is a better way to live. Freedom from having to scan the ground all the time, freedom to look up, to look around. It comes from engaging in a different monetary system, where the more you give, the wealthier and freer you become. The more you share, the bigger your portfolio. Because this monetary system is not perishable, it is actually made of love.

"Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 1 Pet 1:18-19

We don't have to be in control of our lives, either through money, power or self-discipline. Nobody is actually in control of their lives, so why do we deceive ourselves? God created us to let him have all the control, because his control is always out of love, while ours is always out of selfishness. 

What would our lives look like if we gave all of our control to God? 

Jesus died to free us from our selfishness, to free us from the power of our pebbles.

Let him carry your pebbles, let him define how many pebbles are enough for you, let him help you find the pebbles when you need them. And even if the serious problems come around and you don't have enough pebbles to make a mountain to climb high, he will be there with you and he will lift your eyes high so you can see that there is a safe place higher than any pebble mountain you may pile.

Keep your life free from love of money, be content with what you have, for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we can confidently say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear, what can man do to me? Hebrews 13:5-6

That is true Financial Freedom!

Salt & Light Facebook Linkup Graphic
Read More

A Wrinkle In Time - How to Change Your Life Story

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My oldest son came home from school this week, sharing he was feeling a little scared because his teacher read aloud the book "A Wrinkle in Time," to his class. The book, written in the sixties, has experienced a come back after Disney transformed the story into a movie.

Regardless personal opinions about the story, many kids are fascinated and even scared with stories that have to do with time travel, outer worlds, and the fight between good and evil. The possibility that a single person, especially a single child, could change the track of time and history with a small act of courage is captivating! 

Enter Hannah, your typical housewife, except in her household there were two wives to one husband, and the other wife treated Hannah really bad. Can we say she was bullied all the time? Hannah could not have babies while the other lady had enough children to feel superior and prideful.

In that time in history, having a lot of kids was very important, not only because a women's worth was in her offspring, but also because her kids were her retirement plan, once her husband died. Hannah was one deep hurting lady with no hope. She could not change her own future, much less the future of the world!

It would be completely senseless to think Hannah was anything more than a bullied housewife as she stood one day at the temple moving her lips in prayer. Her body was so distressed and shaken by emotions, that the priest took her for a drunk. A drunk bullied housewife.

Right there, in her shame, pain, and loneliness, Hannah makes a wrinkle in time. Yes, the woman seen as a drunk, bullied and worthless impacted your life, my life and changed the world. Talk about possibilities!

Hannah prayed that if God gave her a son, she would give her son back to God, to serve in the temple all his life. It was a bold and selfless prayer, not only asking for a miracle son, but asking for a real proof that she was even worthy of having a prayer answered. Did God even know that Hannah existed? 

Little did Hannah know that the biggest miracle was not going to happen inside her body, a bigger miracle was going to happen inside the world! Her son Samuel would grow up and one day anoint a young man named David, to be king.

Hannah, do you know the power of your small prayer? Hannah, you are about to start a Kingdom that is going to last forever! Hannah, God is going to make a wrinkle in time with your prayer!

One day, centuries after Hannah made her prayer, God sends his son Jesus to enter the lineage of King David, to become THE everlasting king. Jesus says "I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star."

Hannah's miracle baby anointed Jesus' great, great, great, great grandfather, king. 

There is a real story about time travel, outer worlds, and the fight between good and evil. We are in it, whether we like it or not. The only act of courage you need to make right now is to join the good side of the story, the end has already been written. The good guys win in the end. 

"For us a child is born, to us a son is given... Of the increase of his government and of peace, there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forever more." Isaiah 9:6,7

Do you know the power of your small prayer? Do you know that you can be part of a Kingdom that lasts forever? Do you know that you can make right now a wrinkle in your life story?

Read More

Billy Graham and the One Thousand Years Plan

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Recently, I was adding up how many years are still left until my kids finish school and I was surprised to find out that in ten years they will both have finished high school. Maybe ten years is a lot of time for you and I used to think it was for me, but now, after having added a few decades to my lifetime, ten years has a very different meaning, way shorter than before.

Ten years are still ten years, the only thing that changed is my perspective. An hour waiting for a car maintenance procedure feels like forever, and yet a lunch break from work feels way too short. It all depends on how you feel about that moment in time.

They say every important decision must be considered against its impact for today, five years and ten years from now. Short, medium and long-term implications. Do you buy a new car with borrowed money or do you save money while using the old one? Do you make time for exercise today or do you deal with the consequences later? Do you take job offer A or B?

Some decisions make no difference to you in five or ten years, while others can completely change the course of your life. That is what turns decision making into a confusing and overwhelming task because nobody can clearly see what the next five or ten years will look like.

While considering pending decisions in my life that will have a long-term impact, it occurred to me that my perspective for decision making is all wrong. What really matters is the impact of my decisions in one thousand years from now. Talk about long term!

From a Christian perspective, I believe that the reality of one thousand years from now is not an abstract idea, it is a future that will come, a day as real as yesterday was. When you start using this mindset, you may actually realize that when your decisions are weighted against one thousand years they become easier to make, not more complicated. Especially, if you depend completely on the only book that can tell you what will happen in one thousand years.

One thousand years from now, when you look back on this day, this morning, this hour in your life, what will have really mattered? What is the best use of your time, resources, and energy?

There are only three things that last forever: people, God, and his word. Everything else you have purchased, stored or worked for, will probably be gone in one thousand years. The old car, the new car, the fit body, the old body, job A, job B, all gone. Doesn’t that make it easier to decide? Doesn’t it take the burden away to make the perfect decision for the next five or ten years? 

Billy Graham is remembered today for the one thousand years decisions he made, looking forward to the things that last forever.

He invested in people, God, and his word. What would have happened if he had not made one thousand years decisions? We are glad he did.

Read More