Tag Archives: lessons

Four Lessons Learned

Four Lessons from “The Little Engine That Could”

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A while ago I wrote this article on another platform. I thought you would enjoy it and learn what a little book can teach us. It’s amazing what lessons we can learn from children’s books.

This past weekend I had the delightful job to read to my 3-year-old granddaughter. She chose “The Little Engine That Could”. Not only do I remember reading this book to my children but I remember reading it as a child. And I remember reading to my grade ones when I taught school.

The history of the book goes through several versions until Arnold Munk with the pen name of Watty Piper, wrote and had it published in 1930. Lois Lenski did the first pictures. An updated version, published in 1954 had colourful illustrations by George and Doris Hauman. This is the version I remember and the one that is on the children’s bookshelf.

As I read the story to my granddaughter I got excited about how the story built up emotion and taught lessons on the way.

The story is about a little train who wants to bring presents over the hill to children in another town. They are patiently and excitedly awaiting their gifts. However, on the way to the town, the little engine breaks down. The toys are very upset and the funny little clown sets off to find another train to help them.

As they go to the different trains asking for help, I thought about all the things we put faith in here on earth instead of what God would want us to.

Four Faith Lessons from Four Trains

We put much status into buying new things. There is always a new widget or gizmo that we want to have. Cellphones and computers top the list for new innovations and the need to have the latest model.

This release of new gizmos is gaining momentum each year.

When I stop to think about it we purchased our first computer in 1989 — it was an amazing TI99 4/A. And we watched it on our TV. (Hubby and I are trying to remember all this.) I know we purchased a used Apple IIe after that. I think I did some early programming on that machine. It couldn’t do much but it fascinated me.

Lessons

TI99 4/A similar to the one we had.

Lessons

Apple IIe like our second computer.

But ever since those first computers, things have moved swiftly forward. Newer and better.

Do we look down on things that aren’t perfect and shiny; that aren’t new?

Personally, I love refurbishing old things to make them new. I like things that are made of wood not plastic.

Lessons

My grandfather’s end table that I refurbished years ago.

When we were younger we didn’t take a car loan. Instead, we bought used cars and saved our money. As long as the car ran that’s all that mattered. We still often buy used cars because the depreciation on a new vehicle is ridiculous. Check it out before you decide on your next vehicle.

But the shiny New Engine didn’t want to help the little toy train because he was too special — too proud. He looked down on the little train and said a resounding “NO”.

2.) Next comes a Big Engine:

We always think might is right and power makes things happen. But if we look throughout history we see the powerful fall from their towers. They topple down. They can’t keep up the illusion.

“Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day (Deuteronomy 8:17–18, The Message).”

Bigger is better, right? Let’s look at the monster homes of this age.

Why do we need so much space? What’s the purpose?

When we downsized from our family home (the first time), we bought a small townhome. I enjoyed the two years we lived there. There was more time to get out and do things — not being tied to looking after a big home.

Bigger isn’t better. Look at your needs, not at your wants. Enjoy what you have now. Save for the future. Take experiences (playing in the park, walking somewhere new) instead of putting out big bucks for new and big items.

I thought about the Christian church — bigger is not always better. In fact when you get so many people joining how can you be sure that they are in fellowship with one another?

I love this article:

But the Big Engine says he is too important and won’t “pull the likes of you”.

Sometimes we do get tired and defeated. We figure we are too old, or not useful. The defeatist attitude stalks our every moment.

I think these thoughts need to be taken captive as I have learned that Christ gives me strength.

Here is a great article on Crosswalk.com about taking your thoughts captive:

A couple of years ago I volunteered to run a VBS at our church. From the first day, I caught a really bad cold and cough. I didn’t know how I was going to keep going. I kept praying. And I kept going.

The minister set up a microphone system so I could talk softly into it and the kids could hear me. Actually, I found the entire week filled with peace. The kids sensed the need to work well and quietly. We had fun.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13, NIV).”

But the Rusty Old Engine sighed and said he could not. He was too tired and weary.

A Little Blue Engine comes chugging merrily along. The dolls and toys don’t have to ask this train for help, she asks them what’s wrong. She tells them she isn’t very big and has never been over the mountain.

Do you sometimes feel that a job is too big for you to handle?
Do you feel overwhelmed with the details and difficulty of the task?

Well, this little engine can teach us lessons.

She thought of what the kids would be missing if this little train didn’t bring the gifts to the boys and girls on the other side of the mountain.

And then she said: I think I can. I think I can. It was a supreme effort but she kept chugging along saying — I think I can.

If there are times you don’t think you can do something — ask Jesus. He is right there to give you the strength, courage or inspiration to get the job done.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10, NIV).”

If there are times you need to go somewhere or do something you have never attempted, remember from scripture:

“but the righteous are bold as a lion (Proverbs 28:1, NIV).”

Lessons

Bible Art by Janis Cox

And the Little Blue Engine pulled that train up the mountain and down into the town to deliver the presents to the boys and girls.

These were my discoveries as I read this book to my granddaughter. Certainly, there are 4 good life lessons to get from this tiny book.

  1. Don’t be swayed by new things.
  2. Bigger is not necessarily better.
  3. Even when you feel unable to do a task, Jesus can strengthen you.
  4. Say: I think I can. Then be bold and do it.

What Does God Desire of Me and You?

God sees all. God created us and knows us intimately

Psalm 15:10

From YouVersion – Psalm 51:10

Today as I read the three passages from the Bible, (I am reading through the Bible in three years) I saw this theme.

God knows us well.

Isaiah 58:1-12

What a powerfully packed lesson. I want to read it again and again.

Today, once again, I see pride as something that God detests. He mentions those who are upset with God when an answer doesn’t come to their liking. He doesn’t like them asking pridefully, “We fasted, and we humbled ourselves, and You didn’t listen or answer.”

But they also complain, ‘Why do we fast and you don’t look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don’t even notice?’ “Well, here’s why: “The bottom line on your ‘fast days’ is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. (Isaiah 58:3, MSG)

But God explains that their fasting was a show when in reality they were not acting in God’s way – they exploited others, they quarrelled.

Their fast was for “show”.

And when they humbled themselves they did that in a showy way by lying on sackcloth and ashes.

What does God suggest instead?

Once again it comes back to love God and love your neighbour.

so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’ 31 And here is the second: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ There is no other commandment that ranks with these.” (Mark 12:30-32, MSG)

God wants us to loose the chains of injustice, untie chords of yoke, and set oppressed free.

Break the chains of abuse

Isaiah 58:6 Loose the chains of injustice

How can we do this?

God gives us the means.

Share food.

Give shelter.

Give clothing.

Those are the basic needs of life. If people don’t have those we need to help.

In Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-21

We are told not to brag about doing things that we feel God wants us to do. For instance, giving is important. But not telling what we give. God knows it anyway. And we are to please Him and not try to be noticed.

The same can be said for fasting. If we fast, we do it in secret too. Secret to the world – but not to God.

And having things we don’t need – storing up stuff here on earth. Instead, we are to look for those things that please God and store up them.

I love the way the Message tells us how to do these things.

“When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face.

God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.

A Life of God-Worship

“Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or – worse! – stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being. (Matthew 6:16-21, MSG) Bolding mine.

Psalm 51:1-17

Confession. This is one spot we forget. I do too. I like the ACTS way of praying because it reminds me that confession is a part of prayer.

Adoration

Confession

Thanksgiving

Supplication (praying for ourselves and others)

This Psalm has the scripture that I memorized. Make a clean heart in me, O Lord.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10, ESV)

What does God desire of me?

A broken spirit (confession)

A broken and contrite heart – seeing what God wants and not what I want.

And it talks about God knowing us – our inner beings, our secrets. 

Because He made us, He knows us. Psalm 139:13-14

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13, NIV)

He wants a humble people. Not a proud people.

What did I learn?

We must see ourselves as God sees us. That means I need to remember to confess, because what I see God sees and what I do, God sees. And I know some of the things He sees in me is not to His liking.

Our hearts have to be softened. I need to think more about others.

Humility is important. So, don’t brag about anything.

And lastly, I want to help others with the basic needs of life.

What can I do?

A few practical things to start.

Go through my closet again and getting rid of clothes I do not wear.

Pray for inspiration of how to help people get their basic needs.

Confess daily those little things that God sees and I ignore.

What will you do?

I would love to hear your decisions. If we work on this together and encourage each other, without bragging, God will see us and be pleased.

May I pray for you and me?

Lord Jesus, thank You for showing us today the way we are to live. Thank You that You see and listen to us. Help us to be humbler and in tune with Your ways. Help us love our neighbours. Help us be aware of opportunities to serve others. In Your name. Amen.

How You Can Find Home When You Have Lost Your Way

A look at The Kingdom of Thrim

Have you every lost your way?

Have you had a time where you made a hasty decision?
Have you ever made financial decisions that were not good ones?
Do you listen to God on a daily basis?

A Purposeful Faith

We want our children to have a strong purposeful faith. We want them to trust and believe in God. We want to instil in them good values and faith disciplines.

Valuable Lessons

The Kingdom of Thrim is packed full of valuable lessons – from money, to listening to God, to being creative and using your God-given gifts – to being content with what you have. Help your child find his way.

Created for ages 6 and up, The Kingdom of Thrim brings colour and excitement to a child’s life through vivid watercolour illustrations.

A page from The Kingdom of Thrim

The lessons learned are life lessons as one adult reader said:

“I needed this book. If you feel like you’ve lost your gift or wandered too far from home and aren’t sure if you can find your way back, you need it too.” Jeff Goins

Other happy readers have said,

“This is a delightful children’s book with a strong Biblical message. I loved the soft tone of the illustrations. It would make a wonderful story-book for those bedtime moments that are so important for bonding and teaching.” – Marcia Laycock

“Janis Cox is a beautiful storyteller and lovely illustrator and does an excellent job of presenting a story for both kids and adults that speaks to the very heart, no matter what age you may be. Highly recommended.” – Sally Meadows

To get a copy:

Canadian Amazon

US Amazon

Available in paperback or Kindle

Alternately you can contact me and I will send you one.

Email Janis Cox.

Activities and Research

Both of Janis’ books have children’s activities and research ideas in the back.

 

3 Ways to Turn from my Old Ways

Five Minute Friday: Turn

Okay – I think I will continue to do my Five-Minute Fridays on my blog rather than Medium. This week’s prompt is TURN.

turn

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

So I have 5 minutes to write on the word “turn”: Set the Timer: Go

I keep hearing the words from the Bible: “Turn from your ways”.

And that’s exactly what God told me when I accepted Jesus as Saviour in 2001.

” ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live’ (Ezekiel 33:11, NIV).”

There were many ways I had to turn from.

Here are 3:

Judgment:

I’m still judgmental. But not as bad as I was. Everything that would happen I would have an opinion and I believed my thoughts and ways were the best.

I am working on turning even further from that.

 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3, NIV).”

turn

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Control:

Oh yes, I think that is how I am wired. I am a task-master, a doer, a person who likes to get things done. I want to fix things and make them right. I’m reminded of Peter – yes, he too wanted to make things right. Remember when he wanted to set up tents for Moses, Elijah and Jesus? He thought that was the right thing to do. It was not.

I have to learn over and over that others have thoughts and ideas too. I am working on that as well. But, as someone told me, “Don’t let go the fire that you have inside you. Just don’t burn anyone.”

Self-control – that’s what I am working on. Keep looking to Jesus.

turn

 

Fear:

turn

I worried constantly. The control part of me helped me do that. I feared climbing ladders, thunderstorms, speaking in front of people, what people would think, how I looked. And it goes on and on.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes (Matthew 6:25, NIV)”.

turn

Bible Art by Janis Cox

Now I learned to pray and I have heard that the best worriers become the best intercessors.

Jesus let me drop all that when I said to Him, “I’m yours.” Now I will go boldly where Jesus wants me to go. I will tread the waters and not look down.

These are my 3 big turns since deciding to follow Jesus.

Time’s up. Join me at Five-Minute Fridays to speak your mind about a prompt.

Other posts you might enjoy.

Control: Five-Minute Friday

How to Overcome Fear

Call to Action:

Do you struggle with studying the Bible?
Do you want a creative way to do this?

Join my Free Bible Art Course

turn

 

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Bible Painting – Have you tried it?

Word of God Speak – Bible Painting – Have you tried it?

Bible painting or journalling – what is it?

Bible painting

I posted this a year ago. I have continued to work on my Bible painting/journalling. Check out my Bible Journalling Page for more scriptures and pictures. I now have a link in my menu for Bible Journalling. Check it out. Join us on Facebook Word of God Speak.

I use watercolour pencils and felt pens and Micron pens.

Here is the post:

Bible painting is something new to me.

I would like to show you this week some of the watercolour paintings I have done in my Bible. I find, being a visual person, Bible painting helps solidify the scriptures in my mind.

It’s time for a review. I have studied, painted and memorized a number of scriptures since we started Word of God Speak. Each week I would use the SIMPLE method of Bible study to hear what God was telling me.

Here is a quick review with the scripture, my Bible journalling page, and my thoughts for each scripture. I am only doing a few of them this week. Next time I will show you new ones. Review is important. It’s time to go back and see what I have learned.

If you haven’t been following you can click on the link to see my thoughts of each scripture.

My Bible Painting

2 Corinthians 9:8  Have you found one word for 2016?

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2 Corinthians 9-8 Bible Painting

What I learned from 2 Corinthians 9:8:

In order for God to be known I must break free of my wall of insecurity – the introvert me. I must allow Him to let me burst forth – ABOUND- to show His Light to the world.

John 1:14   What does it mean God came down?

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1-14 Bible Painting

What I learned from John 1:14:

I know God is leading me somewhere. Therefore, I will continue to watch where He leads. We are called to look after those who cannot look after themselves.

John 3:5    How to accept God’s Grace

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

John 3-5 - Bible Painting

What I learned from John 3:5:

I thought, “What does it take for the Spirit to move in the hearts of men? in my family? in my friends? I remember before I took that leap of faith, being prideful, and stubborn. So it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to break through our tough skin.

Tweetable:

Have you tried painting in your Bibles? Bring scriptures to life by studying, memorizing and even using art. (tweet this)

On Facebook we have a Facebook group page called Word of God Speak Group Community. Just ask to join.

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