A UNC* student walked into the pet store and, after looking up and down the aisles, asked the sales clerk for help.
"I'd like a box of birdseed," said the lady. "For which kind of bird?" he asked helpfully.
"Oh, I don't know," she replied. "Whichever one will grow the fastest."
*Please see "comments" for additional pertinent information.
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*UNC is the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Specializing in a wide range of degree programs including: B.A. A.H.F.(Advanced Hamburger Flipping), A.P.E., B.R.C. (Bar Room Conversations), etc. Institution was founded in 1898 for sons/daughters of local Chapel Still politicians that were unable to qualify for the more prestigious institutions of higher learning such as Duke, Wake Forest, and N.C. State.
The Faith of a Child Doubt and Belief in The Polar Express
December 8, 2006
Jesus' saying in Mark 10 is a familiar one: "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." Children show us how to approach Jesus: with wide-eyed belief and unquestioning faith.
One animated film worth seeing again this Christmas reminds us of what it means to have faith like a child's. Based on the book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express takes us on one boy's journey from doubt to belief. On one level, the story can be interpreted as a retelling of The Miracle on 34th Street, but for Christians, this film can also be seen as a tale about a return to untainted belief.
In the movie, a young boy struggles with his belief in Santa Claus. He lies in bed on Christmas Eve, hoping to hear the bells on Santa's sleigh, but his doubt grows. Later, he is awakened by the loud and surprising arrival of a train in his front yard. Walking outside, the boy is greeted by a conductor, who asks, "Well, are you coming?" Boarding the train, we find, is the most important decision he makes.
Along with many other children, the boy travels to the North Pole, where Santa will present the first gift of Christmas. During the trip, the boy continues to struggle with doubt, at one point trying to wake himself up.
There are two messages from the movie that stand out. First, as the conductor later remarks to the boy, "It doesn't matter where you're going; what matters is deciding to get on." Often we allow life's disappointments to make us cynical. Or we expect to get something for our faith. But life usually doesn't work out according to our plans. So yes, what's important isn't where we end up or what we get, but that we trust God enough to act on faith.
Second, the conductor also reminds us: "The most real things in the world are the things we can't see." That's when we need the faith of a child to ask what Max Lucado calls the "fundamental question": "Can I afford to believe in what I have never seen?"
I first recommended The Polar Express two years ago on "BreakPoint." This year, I have another reason to recommend it. With its release of a new two-disc DVD set of The Polar Express, Warner Brothers and Motive Entertainment are promoting Prison Fellowship's Angel Tree program. That's our ministry to the children of prisoners that is so close to my heart. They are also providing 1,000 promotional copies of the DVD for giveaway to prisoners' kids. I am deeply grateful to Warner Brothers and Motive Entertainment for their efforts.
Bill Broyles, the film's screenwriter, notes: "We all go through that passage . . . to that world of adulthood where that magic and wonder is gone—or maybe deeply buried." As we enter the Christmas season, this is a good time to rekindle a sense of wonder and awe of our Creator and Savior. The Polar Express is a great holiday film with a story even the youngest child can understand—and a profound message about faith and belief that no adult can miss.
The original commentary first aired on November 10, 2004.
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Matt is 16, and he hates his birthday. At least, that's what he told some of his friends. He said his birthday is always the worst day of the year for him, ever since his sixth birthday. He remembers that like it was yesterday. His mom went out and bought a special cake, invited all his friends to come over for Matt's birthday party, and nobody came. And since there was nobody there for the party, his mom took the cake back to the store. There was no one there to celebrate him.
Most people haven't had a party in their honor that no one showed up for. But a lot of people feel like their life has been a party that no one showed up for. In fact, you may feel right now like there's no one there celebrating you. So many times, you have felt overlooked, neglected, maybe you've felt abandoned, and betrayed. You're questioning your own value. You may be successful, surrounded by people, spiritually involved, but maybe the feelings of unworthiness have not changed.
Someone very important thinks you're very important. Actually, He was there for your first birthday - the day you were born. He created you. And this One who rules the galaxies values you more than you can imagine. God's commitment to you is spelled out very clearly in our word for today from the Word of God.
In Isaiah 49:15-16, your Creator says, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you." Did you get what God's saying to you here? "I will not forget you." If everyone else does, He will not. He never has. He never will. How can you be sure that you're always on God's mind? Well, listen to the next verse, "See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands."
Do you know how Jesus' friends knew it was Him after He came back from the dead? By the nail prints in His hands. Those prints, hammered there when He was nailed to the cross, are there forever. And when Jesus looks at His hands, He sees the nail prints and He thinks of you, because He died on that cross for you. You can walk up to that cross in your mind and say these words right from the Bible, "He loved me and gave Himself for me."
It was the only way you could ever spend eternity with Jesus in heaven. All your religion, your good deeds, could never pay the death penalty that goes with your sin. And because Jesus doesn't want to lose you, He took that death penalty for you. That's how much you mean to Him. That's how much He loves you. And once you belong to Him, He will never turn His back on someone He loved enough to die for.
But sadly, you may not belong to Jesus because you've never opened your heart to Him; you've never given Him you. You've never felt like you're worth much because you've never known the One who gave you your worth - who thought you were worth His life. But beginning today, you can finally belong to the One who loves you most. But you have to tell Him that you want to begin a relationship with Him. The Bible says about Him, "You were created by Him and for Him." And He waits now for you to reach out in total trust to tell Him He's your only hope. Find a quiet place as soon as you can and say, "Jesus, thank You for dying for me. I wasn't supposed to run my life. I have, but I thank You that You made me and you loved me enough to die for me. And I will find the love and the worth of my life - the relationship I was made for in You."
If you'd like to begin that relationship with Him. If you want to know you belong to Him before you go to sleep tonight, would you visit us at our website where we can help you have that assurance. It's /">yoursforlife.net. Or call and get this in written form, my little booklet, "Yours For Life." It's available at no charge if you'll call us for it at 877-741-1200.
The Son of God made you - gave His life for you. You are on the edge of more love than you ever dreamed you could have.
If you're not sure you belong to Jesus, and you would like to make sure today, Ron would like to send to you a free copy of the booklet, "Yours for Life: How to Have Life's Most Important Relationship." To read it online, click here: Click Here
OR, to request your free copy of "Yours for Life," click here: Click Here
To find out how you can begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit YOURS FOR LIFE: HOW TO HAVE LIFE'S MOST IMPORTANT RELATIONSHIP at: Click Here Or, call 1-888-NEED HIM.
"A Word With You" by Ron Hutchcraft is a daily radio challenge, with slice-of-life illustrations and insights - providing practical help on the issues that matter most. If your local Christian radio station does not air "A Word With You," please let them know how much you value this program. Over six years of transcripts are available online, at