Posts Tagged ‘teaching children christian values’

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Little Mermaid’s Ursula Helps Teach us about Sin

June 21, 2009

Teaching the subject of sin to children can be fairly challenging and intimidating.  I know personally, sometimes teaching the subject of sin to adults can be a daunting task as well.  Sin and temptation are common themes throughout all of Scripture.  Using various Bible stories as teaching tools is a great idea.  If you need to take the message a step further and need some help, let me introduce you to a great character to use… Ursula.

I guess I know so much about The Little Mermaid because it is one of my little girl’s favorite movies.  After watching it several times, I became intrigued with the correlation Ursula’s character has to the reality of sin and temptation.

Here are some helpful hints on how to use Ursula’s character to teach your children about sin and temptation:

1.  Ursula plotted to trap Ariel, using her own weakness/passion against her. If you have seen the movie, you will remember how Ursula watches Ariel’s passion for Eric develop and decides to use this as a ploy to trap her.  Unfortunately, our enemy does the same thing with us.  Like Ariel, when our mind becomes focused on something more than pleasing our father, we can easily be beguiled by the slippery words Satan uses.  Unfortunately, many have fallen to this temptation, never seeing or knowing that Satan had been plotting their temptation for some time.   We have to teach our children to be on their guard at all times.  Ephesians 6 tells us,

12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

2.  Temptation usually sounds like a deal that can’t go wrong… but it does. A number of us have fallen prey to the temptation of believing a deal that was not true.  Unfortunately, when we become obsessed with something, our rational approach to things and of all things, our spiritual compass, seems to go out the window.  Teach your children about how to guard against such things and be wary of making decisions before praying about them.  Just like Ursula’s deal with Ariel, sin sounds so inviting until we find ourselves caught in its snares.

3.  Sin affects those we love the most, even when we don’t mean for them to. Ariel’s deal with Ursula affected her friends, Eric and her father.  When the contracted was called to be paid, Ariel’s father had to pay with his life to save Ariel’s.  This is a great lesson to teach your children about sin.  As we covered in an earlier post, A Father’s Love, the king’s sacrifice for his daughter’s deal is much like the sacrifice Christ made for our sin.  As it states in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Teach your children that sin affects all of us, but that there is redemptive mercy in Christ’ sacrifice for our “contract”.

4.  The enemy makes the rules, but will cheat to win. I love how Ariel’s plan begins working, but when the scenerio seems to play in her favor, Ursula takes matters into her own hands and competes against Ariel, making it difficult to win.  Many of us think that for some reason, sin will work out in our favor and will not have the same effect other people’s sin has had.  This is simply untrue.  Like Ursual, Satan will not follow any rules that will further our relationship with Christ.  In fact, he lives to destroy it.  We have to teach our children how to know when we are being tempted and how to pray against it.  Additionally, as fathers, we need to actively pray for our children’s decisions, regardless of their ages.

5.  The deal will always take something from you. In this movie, Ariel’s voice is taken from her as part of the deal.  Help your children understand John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  Just like Ursula, the devil will steal something from them in every sin transaction.

Here’s a great idea for you to consider.  Let your children know prior to watching the movie the similarities of Ursula’s plot to that of Satan’s.  Have them be on the look out throughout the movie for different instances where the similarities are apparent.  You might be surprised what they come up with.  And better yet, you might just learn something new yourself!

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

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Selfish Desires – Seagulls

April 15, 2009

If anyone has seen the movie, Finding Nemo, everyone remembers the seagulls.  Their famous, repetitive phrase, “MINE!” reverberates in my ears every time I hear a seagull overhead. (If you click on the image, it will take you to a rough clip of the scene we will be discussing.) I have three children and much like the seagulls, I hear “MINE!” more times than I care to think.  It seems like one of the first of original sins is that of selfishness.

Although this is a funny scene, this depiction might allow you an opportunity to talk some about selfishness with your children.  Many of us would jump at the opportunity to take this subject head on, especially emphasizing the problems caused by sibling selfishness.  I would like to challenge you to take the message deeper and help your children understand what the Bible teaches us about selfish desires, and potential “end scenes” if this problem goes undiagnosed.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.

– Matthew 16:24

Christ talks specifically about selfishness in many of his parables, but in this verse, he takes it head on.  I love how he states, “If you want to be my follower…” Deep down, I believe we all struggle with selfishness from time to time and to go even further, selfishness will often prohibit us from truly following Christ and going “All in,” if you will.  How many times do you think we sound like the seagulls in this scene to Christ?  Whether it be with our finances and the issue of tithing or simply, giving more of our time to the Kingdom by getting up earlier in the morning, we all usually tell Christ “MINE!”

So what are some of the lessons you could teach your children using the Seagulls in Finding Nemo?

1.  Selfishness will ultimately blind and bind you! One of my favorite parts of the clip is how the pelican is able to get away from the nagging seagulls in hot pursuit of what they claim as theirs.  In my humble opinion, it is a great example of how we could also use another great passage from Matthew:

But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.
– Matthew 7:14

Just like the pelican, one who is unselfish is able to narrowly pass through openings most will not see, nor be able to pass through.  The seagulls, so blinded by their selfishness, were unable to see the narrow opening in the sail and soon found themselves bound in the sail itself.

2.  Selfishness is annoying not only to parents, but also to God. Although this particular clip is funny the first time, if you were to consistently here, “MINE!” all day, it would become rather annoying.  I would have to imagine this clip is a small commercial of what Christ often hears from those who love him.  MINE!  In one of the earlier scenes, the pelican is actually agitated by the constant gawking of gulls and tells them loudly to hush up. (he uses different words though)  The sound of selfishness to Christ has to be just as annoying and disheartening.  Christ left us constant reminders to be unselfish in our giving, just as he was.  Take some time to explain to your children how selfishness can lead to various other sins of the flesh.  It starts out annoying, but if left unchecked, it could become deadly.

3. It’s hard to stop. I laugh to myself when I think of how many times I am much like those gulls who are stuck in the the sail yet still manage to say, “MINE!”  Selfishness can become deeply rooted and this is a great reason to urge you to help teach your children about selfishness now!  Don’t you wish someone would have helped you earlier in life with this issue?  I know if the issue of “MINE!” would have been dealt with earlier in my life, perhaps I would not be wishing I had not spent so much time, money, sleepless nights, and other investments in chasing what I thought I was entitled to.

Before preaching to your children about selfishness,  I would strongly urge you to sift through the topic in your own walk.  Personally, I struggle with my selfish desires for something as simple as sleep.  I like sleep, but don’t see much of it.  I believe the last time I slept all night may have been prior to children.   I go through great lengths to defend my naptime on Saturdays and Sundays.  My schedule revolves around them and I wake up thinking about the next time I will be able to lay down.  Where most have something called sleep apnea, I have “lack of sleepaphobia.”

Sure, it’s funny, but I wonder if there are other things in my life that when Christ calls me to a deeper union with him, all I can respond with is “MINE!”

If you would like more in this series, please be sure to check out the other articles in Using Movies to Witness.

Have new posts delivered right to your email, click here.
Subscribe to Christian Men-Christian Warriors by Email
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About the Writer:

Trent Cotton has spent a number of years in management and business consulting. After spending some time in the field, he joined the HR department, beginning in recruiting and eventually serving as the Department Head of HR for one of the major lines of business. With such a varied background, he works to bring all of these together to help churches and other Christian organizations incorporate some common business practices into their ministries to enable them to better serve the Kingdom. He currently works for SourcePointe, an HR Outsourcing Agency while continuing to own and operate Christian Management Consulting as a ministry. In his free time, he also writes a lot on Church Development as a Church Consultant.

As a husband and father of three, Trent Cotton has a passion surrounding the role Christian Men are to play in their families, communities, churches and businesses.  This particular blog is dedicated to helping men take back the role that we have lost in society.