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Stories for Stormy Days

My family and I were on vacation in South Carolina when Hurricane Bertha appeared on the radar-enhanced horizon. We became addicts of the Weather Channel, keeping close tabs on the path of the hurricane. We were advised to evacuate, but we waited for about twelve hours and kept even closer tabs on the path of Bertha.

By midmorning of the day following the initial evacuation command it was obvious that Bertha was going to miss our location completely. But it did make a landfall to the north of us. For those in the immediate path of this hurricane there was serious damage. Lives were lost. Families were disrupted. Homes were destroyed.

My family watches very little television at home. While on vacation, we often enjoy watching programs of the 1950s and 60s on Nick at Night. But this year, because of our need to track Bertha we watched even more.

It is a good thing that I watch little television at home. Otherwise, I would have over-developed muscles in my right thumb. Muscles enhanced by endless exercise coming from clicking, clicking, ever clicking the "channel change" button on the remote control.

As I clicked my way through the channels searching for more Bertha coverage, I saw clear evidence of another hurricane blowing in America. It is a hurricane of immorality that is being fed by satellite into vast the majority of American homes and American minds.

Because I so rarely watch television, I do not often think about its effect on those who do. But there can be no doubt as to its effect.

For those who stand in the direct path of the hurricane of immoral broadcasting, lives are lost, families are disrupted, and homes are destroyed.

This is a message you have heard before from a number of people. Good people like Don Wildmon and others for years have declared the dangers of immoral television. And we must all salute and appreciate their important work.

There is definitely something to be said for completely rejecting the world's system of entertainment-just as we, as home schoolers, have completely rejected the world's system of education.

Home schoolers have not rejected education. We have merely chosen good education over a seriously flawed alternative.

So too, it would be folly to suggest that we can simply reject the notion of entertainment.

Most television programs tell some kind of a story. There is nothing wrong with telling stories. In fact, Jesus often used stories in His public teaching ministry. The approximately fifty parables recorded in the Gospels are simply stories which illustrate a lesson.

Stories enrich our lives. Stories give children imagination. Stories teach lessons in ways that are often more powerful than sermons or didactic lessons.

Sermon illustrations are simply stories inserted into a presentation to make a point come alive. Every good preacher knows that his illustrations-his stories-will be remembered long after the points of his outline are forgotten.

There are three points in this written "sermon" I'd like you to remember. First, beware of heavy ingestion of the world's stories as they are presented today on television and in other ways. You'll have to ask yourself if your family can afford to swallow any of its poison.

Second, make sure that both you and your family take time to read or hear good stories-stories that uplift, create good examples, point people to God, and teach lessons to makes us more compassionate people.

But my third point is a dream that will take the better part of a generation to come to fulfillment. I have a dream of home schooling children who become America's best story tellers. Children who can reach out to all of our society, capture their interest with a compelling tale, and leave them hungry for a better life when the story is over.

If we are going to raise a generation of story tellers, we must teach our children to write-really write. Not the bland stuff of fill-in-the-blank answers-but interesting, colorful stories that captivate the imagination.

We also have to raise children who can look into the human heart and see with understanding. No one will listen to a story that has only black and white characters.

The story of the prodigal son depicts dimensional characters who are true to the human experience. A selfish son gone bad who later repents. A good son who becomes resentful. A father who grants a child his foolish request and yet welcomes him home when his folly has been realized.

A person who can imagine, who can write, and who can look into the human heart with understanding and see texture, color, and contrast is a person who will change our society once his story is read.

Not every home schooled child will become a story teller, just as not every home schooled child will become a political leader. But I believe that there are some great stories developing in the hearts and imaginations of your children-stories which bring sunshine and gentle rains to replace the prevailing gales of today.

I can't wait to read them.

Mike Farris