Monday, October 22, 2012


Several years ago I was sitting with my son as he recuperated from a stomach bug that had held on for many days, and I had the best time laughing and joking with him.

I know it’s a weird thing to think that sitting on the couch with my sick, six year old could be such a good time, but it was.

We were sitting there watching one of my least favorite children’s TV shows “Dora the Explorer” and the things Ethan was saying in response to her questions were just hilarious. If you have ever seen the show you know that about 2 minutes into it you’re not only ready to turn the channel, you’re ready to throw something at the TV (at least that’s been my experience over the years of my children’s existence on this earth), because of the complete and utter redundancy of Dora’s daily mission.

I remember when my daughter was about a year old, I was sitting on the couch watching it with her as well. That particular day Dora came across this furry creature known as a “wizzle” that was lost and needed to be “wished” home. I sat there with Serena who was glued to the TV and tracking with every mission that Dora had to complete in order to “wish the wizzle home.”

Cross the crocodile lake, scale the magic mountain, pass over the troll guarded bridge all while trying to avoid swiper the fox and his fiendish ways. During every mission Dora asks questions like “will you help us row our boat to get across Crocodile Lake?” Or “will you pull on this rope to help us scale magic mountain?” and many more annoying questions that just beg for a sarcastic answer like “no, row your own boat”, or “give me some gloves so my hands don’t get burned up holding this rope…I mean Benny the Bull is a load” and answers like that.

As I was sitting there that particular episode I found myself getting more and more tense as everything within me wanted to scream out in response to her absolutely redundant (I already used that word didn’t I?) questions, but I knew that my daughter was really into it, and I didn’t want to set a poor example for her.

Well, about 15 minutes into the show I had had enough, the lake, the mountain, the bridge, swiper, the questions and then finally the incredibly deep, lyrically challenging song that the map sings when he makes his appearance pushed me over the edge. Here is his theme song…”I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’m the map, I’M THE MAP!”

That was it, I had my own personal “Popeye” moment…”I can’t stands no more!” I stood up, Serena in my arms, and yelled out at the top of my lungs in the general direction of my TV and at little miss Dora in particular “WISH THE WIZZLE HOME!

Ahh, I felt much better, I let Dora and her cast of annoying creatures know that I desired something a little more challenging for my TV viewing pleasure. The only problem was, Serena started crying and my wife came running into the living room to see what all the ruckus was about.

I sat there relieved and yet pretty embarrassed that I had let Dora get the best of me…Fast forward now into the future, I’m now sitting with my son who has watched many an episode in his years on this earth, and has always chimed right in with answers to Dora’s questions. Always answering with a similar response “yes, Dora I’ll help you row your boat”, or “sure, Dora I’d be glad to help you scale magic mountain.”

Maybe it was the woozy state that he found himself in since being sick, or maybe it was the fact that he hadn’t been able to keep any food or liquid down for a few days, or maybe it was that my boy was getting older and becoming more discerning. Whatever the reason, my son had his own personal “Popeye” moment during this particular episode and was firing back some pretty sarcastic answers to Dora’s questions.

It was kind of like Ethan and I were the hosts of our own “Mystery Science Theatre 3000” episode (if you’ve never seen that, it’s basically these three characters sitting in a movie theater making hilarious observations about a lame movie that’s on the screen), as we fired back answers to the questions and pointed out obviously ridiculous things time after time. It was so much fun!

In this particular episode, Dora and her friends had to find a magic wand that was missing from a portrait of a wizard that not only talked, but bore the voice of Ricardo Montalban, that was hilarious to me as I wondered if his career had officially bottomed out.

Anyway, as I sat there with my ill son, standing our ground, thinking of quick responses and not giving in to what every kid gives in to when they are watching the show (Mindless responses to questions that we already know the answers to). I thought of one word that summed up what Ethan and I were doing…DISCERNMENT!

Even though it was a silly show, my son was starting to process what he was seeing and hearing and beginning to ask questions internally. Questions like “why, what, who, how and where” were becoming part of his thought process.

It made me stop and think about how important discernment really is in our culture. The more I work in ministry, the more I realize that too many times we just take what we’re being presented with by media, movies, magazines, and music as being the truth. Messages to young girls from the media are telling a complete and utter lie that “in order to be beautiful you must look like this”, or to guys that “unless you have a six-pack set of abs like Brent (ha ha) you’re a loser!”

Man how my heart breaks every time I see discernment-less responses to these messages that are being assailed on a daily basis at the non-discerning of the world.

Every time a teen cuts, purges, or gives into some sort of temptation it is usually in response to a message that they have internalized as truth from a TV show, movie, song lyric or magazine ad…How tragic!

I believe one of the things that parents need to continue to do with our kids is teach them how to discern what they are being fed. Questions like “why is that true or not true?” and “what standard is that message being based on?” should be a part of everyone’s thought process.

Now I don’t know if Ethan understood the whole concept of discernment that day, but it gave me an incredible open door to help my son begin to learn that just like the Bereans in Paul’s day, we need to ask questions, dig deeper and explore the truths of God’s Word so we can apply it to every area of our lives.

We all need a moral compass...God's Word!


  1. I really needed to hear this... thanks Brent...

    In some ways, I feel better knowing you suffer the same (LOL), but I loved the latent message therein.

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