My heart's desire is to bring God's word to life for children and families. It all started when I was asked to teach the 3 and 4 year old kids in my church, and the first story they gave me to teach was Genesis 22, Abraham offering Isaac on the altar. I couldn't help but wonder how I was going to teach such a big story to little kids. That's when I prayed about and God gave me a picture of a bear cub in the forest, and The Unforgettable Adventures of Junior Bear was born. Of course we didn't start where we are now; it has been a long journey. But along the way, God's word has come to life for our family and for the children we teach. We wanted to share with you the story where it all began. It is a bit different than the original, but as it has grown, it has gotten deeper. We hope you enjoy it, and, more importantly, that it points you to God's word so that it can come to life for you.
The Promise - By Brad Klassen
Junior Bear was excited when he woke up. It was his birthday. He had been waiting for a long time for today because it was the day he would get his promised birthday gift from his dad: a wooden dump truck. He had asked for it almost a month ago and his dad promised that he would make him one; and his dad never breaks his promises.
Junior jumped out of bed, quickly got ready and headed out of his room to find his dad.
“Good morning Birthday Bear,” Mr. Bear said cheerily as Junior stepped into the kitchen.
“Thanks, Dad,” Junior said, smiling as he sat at the table.
He could smell what his dad was making for breakfast: pancakes with fresh berries from the forest, all covered in homemade maple syrup. It was Junior’s favorite.
After breakfast, Mr. Bear reached under the table.
“Happy birthday, Junior,” he said handing him a present.
Junior could hardly contain his excitement as he took it, even though he knew what it was.
He ripped off the wrapping paper, opened the box, and looked inside.
His eyes grew big as he pulled out the most beautiful dump truck he had ever seen.
“Thanks, Dad!” he exclaimed, not even taking his eyes off his new gift. “It’s perfect.”
“You’re welcome,” Mr. Bear replied as he smiled proudly at his son.
Before he ran off to play with his gift, Junior gave his dad a bear hug.
For the next few days, all Junior did was play with his dump truck. All his other toys seemed boring now. Every time he played with it, it was like he had new joy in his heart. The best part was that he had asked for it, his dad had promised it, and now here it was. His dad was so good.
One day, a while later, as Junior was playing with his truck, Mr. Bear came by.
“Junior, I have an idea,” he said.
“What’s that, Dad?”
“How about you and I take a walk into the forest and go camping together? I know of the perfect spot. And yes, I want you to bring your dump truck.”
“That sounds great,” Junior said.
Early the next morning, Junior woke up and got ready to go. When he looked outside, he noticed that everything was wet and figured it had rained in the night, but he really wanted to go, so he grabbed his truck and the two headed out together.
Walking in the forest with his dad was Junior’s favourite thing to do. He would listen to his dad tell stories and teach him things about the forest.
As they were talking, Junior had a thought.
“Dad,” he said. “I noticed that when we packed we brought our food and our flint to make a spark, but we didn’t bring any fire starter. Since everything is wet, what are we going to use?”
“Something will be provided,” Mr. Bear replied.
After hiking for a while, Junior could see the spot where they were headed to. It was a beautiful hill, with lots of space.
Mr. Bear chose a great place to set up camp.
“Let’s go find some rocks to make a fire pit area and start a fire,” Mr. Bear suggested. “It’s getting a little chilly out here.”
Working together they found some rocks and placed them in a circle.
As Junior was about to put some sticks in the middle of the pit, he heard his father’s voice.
“Junior Bear, I need you to do something.”
Junior looked up to his dad.
“I need you to use your dump truck as the fire starter.”
Junior’s eyes grew big again, but not with excitement.
“What do you mean I need to use my dump truck?” he asked in shock.
“The forest is wet we have no dry kindling,” Mr. Bear said. “Your dump truck is the driest wood we have.”
Junior couldn’t believe what his dad was asking of him. This was his dump truck. The one gift he had asked for. The one gift his dad had promised him. The one gift his dad had given him.
His thoughts raced. He didn’t know what to think.
But then a new thought came to him. He thought of his dad and how he had always been good, he had never lied, he always kept his promises, and he could always be trusted.
Junior was nervous. He was even scared.
He took a hold of his gift and laid it in the middle of the stones.
With shaky paws, and a trusting heart, Junior grabbed the flint.
Just as he was about to make a spark, Mr. Bear called out.
“Don’t do it,” Mr. Bear said.
Junior sat on the ground beside the stones and took a deep breath as tears ran down his cheeks.
“Don’t do it,” Mr. Bear said again.
“Why did you ask me to do that?” Junior asked, still shaking a bit.
“I wanted to know something,” Mr. Bear said. “I wanted to know that you trusted me more than you loved your gift. Now I know you do.”
Junior climbed into his dad’s lap.
“And I always will,” he said as his dad wrapped his arms around him.
“Junior Bear,” Mr. Bear whispered. “Because you have done this and not withheld your favourite gift, I have something for you.”
Junior looked to see where his dad was pointing. Wiping the tears from his eyes he noticed something underneath a nearby brush. As he looked closer he saw it was a dump truck, but it was bigger than his other one. Much bigger.
Junior ran over and pulled it out.
“What’s this?” he asked.
“This is the dump truck I always promised you,” Mr. Bear replied. “I’ve always had this one in mind as my promise to you.”
“How did it get here?”
“My son,” Mr. Bear said quietly. “I had this trip planned before you even asked for a truck."
Junior couldn’t believe it. His dad’s promise was so much bigger than he could have imagined.
Giving his dad a bear hug, he knew that his dad was always good and could always be trusted.
As they sat together, the two were so close that Junior could hear his father’s heartbeat, and he knew that he was loved.
Copyright Brad Klassen September 8, 2018
One thing we love to do is create devotionals to go with our Junior Bear stories. Our plan is that there will always be a devotional at the end of our books that you can do with your family. Want to go deeper with THE PROMISE story? Check out our Activity pages we created to go along with the story! Just sign up below and we will deliver it to your inbox!
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Why Telling Our Story to Our Kids Has Impact
Do you remember looking at a photo album? I mean before technology changed everything.
I may be aging myself a bit, but remember scanning through old photo albums.
I remember seeing pictures of a trip to British Columbia when I was just a baby.
I remember seeing pictures of school classmates.
I remember seeing pictures of my baseball team.
What’s interesting about a photo album is not just the stories it tells, but it makes you wonder about the stories it doesn’t tell. What is in the gaps between the pictures?
I sometimes think about the Bible in this way.
One such area that intrigues me is the gap between Genesis 3 and Genesis 4. In chapter 3, Adam and Eve sin and are removed from the Garden of Eden. Then the Bible makes a large jump in time and we find the story of Cain and Able. But what happened in between?
Two things that for sure happened were that Adam and Eve learned to live off the land and began to have kids. Now, since Netflix didn’t exist at the time, as the kids got older, I bet there were a lot of story times with Mom and Dad.
“Tell us about the Garden.”
“What were the animals like?”
“Why did you eat the fruit?”
Can you imagine having to be the parents that get to tell the kiddos that you were the ones who started all the bad stuff in the world? How hard would that be?
I wonder how Adam and Eve would have responded.
“The Garden we perfect.”
“The animals were all so gentle.”
“I didn’t think one fruit could do so much damage.”
I bet they had quite the conversations around the camp fire.
But why even have the conversations in the first place? Because the heart of a parent is to see their kids not make the same mistakes they did. Am I right?
Stories are powerful. Our stories are powerful.
Our kids are trying to find their way in this crazy world, and whose stories will impact them the most? Ours.
This does not mean that our kids won’t make the same mistakes, or even worse ones, as us. Genesis 4 is evidence of that.
But, it does mean that we as parents need to be strong enough to share our stories with our kids.
Our lessons learned.
AND the mistakes we made along the way.
By sharing our stories with our kids, they discover that they are not the only ones going through whatever it is they are in.
And we discover that our past can build into their futures.
So what about you? What story from your life will you share with your kids this week?
If you are like me, you love a great story.
Whether it’s in a book, a movie, a TV show, or a song, stories find their way into our lives and impact us on a different level.
The truly great stories somehow find a way to transcend time and generations.
As a parent, stories took on a whole new purpose. No longer were they just for my entertainment, but they were now tools I could use to build into my kids. Whether I was reading one to them or telling them one that I was making up as it came, stories captured their attention and their emotions.
The stories captured mine, too.
It was like the story, the characters, the words themselves, came to life.
It’s amazing how many lessons we can learn from a great story. It’s like eating a giant bowl of cereal that tastes great AND is healthy for you. What a great concept! (BTW, I think someone should invent something like that!).
Over the years, I have learned to read the Bible this way: like a story. It is interesting to me that God tells a completely incomplete story (more on this later) for us to know Him through.
His story is filled with amazing events, great heroes, and massive failings. It has drama, action, suspense, emotion, and yes, even romance.
The Old Testament is filled with incredible stories. People building arks, defeating giants, getting rides on chariots of fire (Ha! Now you have a song in your head!), and so much more.
Then the New Testament comes along and what does Jesus use to teach people?
Parables to be exact.
These are short stories that, although have a fictional context, teach deep spiritual truths.
Then, after the gospels, we have the book of Acts, which is actually a letter from Luke to his friend. And what is in the letter? The story of what God was accomplishing through the men and women courageous enough to follow Him faithfully.
Coming through the epistles (letters written during the book of Acts), we find Revelation. What a crazy and beautiful book, filled with amazing creatures, battles, and ultimate victory.
And this is where God’s complete story is still incomplete because there is more to come.
There is more to come because I am part of God’s story. My story is His story. And since my story isn’t complete, His story has more to say.
I love reading the stories of the Bible.
Sure I would love to see the ark. Now I can go to Kentucky.
I would love to see the hand of God write on my wall. But then I remember that that was bad news, and I would probably think one of my kids did it and not believe it anyway.
I would love to see ALL that God has for me. Well, according to the final chapter, one day I will.
But until then, I will read God’s story because God’s story is good, and God’s story is completely incomplete.
Over the next few weeks, I invite you to join me as I continue to blog about the concept of “story” and how God uses it to speak into our lives.
But until then, what is your favorite Bible story and why? Share it in the comments.
Golf. The old gentlemen's game.
Even if you don't play it yourself, you have probably heard what people think it was named for:
Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.
Fortunately that doesn't stand true after a little research.
I don’t play often, but I do enjoy a good round once in a while.
The anticipation as I get my clubs ready.
The excitement as I set up on the first tee.
The thrill of feeling that perfect swing.
The laughter as I watch the ball fly into the bush.
The game that gives and takes away.
But is that all it is? A game? Or is there more to it than that?
Recently I was able to golf a beautiful course with a good friend. As I have reflected on that time, I have been able to see 6 spiritual lessons that speak to our everyday lives. Six different was to look at G.O.L.F.
1.Go Out and Live in Faith.
There are some beautiful golf courses in this world. Each of them has unique holes that challenge the player’s ability. One way they do this is by hiding the green from the tee box.
I find that on the holes where I can’t see the green, I don’t stand there and wonder if it is there. I firmly believe that I can tee off and move in the direction of the hole. I believe that the flag will be there.
Hebrews 11 is commonly known as the Hall of Faith. It summarizes the journeys of many of the men and women who have gone before us in faith.
I have read this chapter many times, and I have wished that I could have the testimony that they carry. In verse 39 it says that “they were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.” (NIV)
That means that even though they didn’t see the flag, they teed off and lived in faith believing that something greater was waiting for them.
Live life in faith.
2.Go Out and Live in Fellowship.
As much as golf is an individual game, in my opinion it is always better when I go with other people. The time on the course creates an atmosphere like nowhere else.
The encouragement when we hit another shot into the pond.
We were meant to be in fellowship with others.
In Mark 6:7 (NIV) we read that Jesus sent out the Twelve in groups of two to do ministry together.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a good start to a good golf game to me.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV) tell us that we need to remember to encourage each other, spur one another on, and not give up meeting together.
We need each other on the golf course, and we need each other in life.
Live life in fellowship with other believers.
3.Go Out and Live to the Full.
Even though my experience with golf is limited, I have come to find it is a game that is meant to be enjoyed.
The green grass.
The fresh air.
The feel of your body after the perfect swing.
A good birdie. A good par. Or even just the sound of the ball dropping into the cup after the fourth putt.
Why is it that we can enjoy the little things of life on the golf course, but we struggle to enjoy them elsewhere?
The green grass of the front lawn that needs to be mowed again.
The fresh air as we run a million errands and don’t seem to have time to catch a breath.
The feel of your body after the perfect hug from your kids as they step on your foot.
The birdies in the air. The ground under our feet. Or even just the sound of a good coffee dropping into a cup.
God has given us an opportunity to live life to the full (John 10:10 NIV). If we don’t take time to enjoy the little things in our lives, our lives will not be full and we will miss out.
Live life to the full.
4.Go Out and Live Free.
The golf course is a place where we can leave things behind.
Our jobs. Our worries. Our stresses.
It can feel like freedom.
Why? Because we choose to be in a place that allows us to do that.
Paul writes that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal 5:1 NIV)
Do you believe that? Do you believe that Christ has set you free so that we can live in freedom?
Is the golf course the only place of freedom for you, or is Christ THE place of freedom for you?
We need to make our own choice to walk in His freedom for us today.
Live life in His freedom.
5.Go Out and Laugh with Friends.
I find that sometimes I take myself way too seriously.
It’s in those moments where I tend to get cranky and not fun to be around.
I have come to believe that that is one reason why God has allowed me to play golf. If I take myself too seriously on the golf course, my whole game falls apart.
I get frustrated that I chose the wrong club.
I get worked up when my divet goes farther than my ball.
I boil over when my ball soars into the bush rather than the fairway where I pictured it landing.
Basically, if I take my game too seriously, I am setting myself up for failure.
That’s why golfing with friends is so fun for me.
We can all relax and have a good time as we laugh at some of those shots.
I think we can all learn a lesson from the Proverbs 31 Woman as “she can laugh at the days to come” because “she is clothed in strength and dignity.” (NIV)
If we prepare ourselves that some shots will be great, some will be findable, and others are just terrible, we prepare ourselves for a golf game filled with laughter.
What if we could approach life like that?
To clothe ourselves with strength and dignity so that we will be better prepared to laugh at the days ahead of us?
Live life laughing with friends.
6.Give Others (and Ourselves) Love and Forgiveness.
Golf is a game that can do a lot to our emotions. We have all seen the videos of people missing their shots and breaking their club, or throwing their clubs into the water. Funny as it can be, they are showing a typical human reaction to unmet expectations. The fact that their ball did not go where they wanted it to pushes them over the edge, and we get a good laugh.
There is a special word that I have applied to my golf game: mulligan. The idea that I can let that shot go and do a redo. What a wonderful concept.
In Lamentations 3:22-23 (NIV), it says that God’s compassions are “new every morning.”
If I can wake up every morning and believe this for myself, my life could change dramatically. It’s a mulligan for my life.
But this is not just for me.
In 1 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV), Paul writes that love “keeps no records of wrongs.”
I have learned that in order for me to have a better chance at enjoying my game, I don’t keep score.
What if we could approach life the way the mulligan player approaches golf? What if we learned to live with fewer expectations and with more redo opportunities towards those around us? What if we could truly forgive others the way we want to be forgiven? What if we don’t keep score?
If we could do this, our marriages would change, our parenting would change, and our relationships would change.
If we truly believed that God’s compassions are new every morning, we wouldn’t beat ourselves up so badly for the time we messed up yesterday or last week.
And we wouldn’t hold it against others when they do as well.
I know that my golf game is not perfect. In truth, the pros don’t get it right all the time either.
I also know that in life I am not perfect, and neither are those around me.
But there is One who truly knows that and does not treat me as my sins deserve (Ps 103:10 NIV).
God is a God of second chances.
Live life with mulligans, for yourself and for others.
Golf is wonderful. It is meant to be enjoyed.
Life is wonderful. It also meant to be enjoyed.
If we can walk the fairways of life with Jesus, we will never walk them alone.
And that’s the perfect game.
I love going to a good concert.
It makes me feel alive.
I love the way I can join a crowd of strangers and share a moment of connection through what is happening on the stage.
Christian concerts bring me to a whole new level. Not only is there the crowds, the energy, the lights, and the music, but they also bring us into the presence of Jesus.
I remember going to a Christian concert with some friends. As the singer lead the crowd in some praise and worship, I sat there and all I could think was, “God, look at all these people praising You.”
But one of the biggest reasons I enjoy a good Christian concert is because I can’t sing.
That’s right. I can’t carry a tune to save my life. I don’t know what happened, but when God put me together in my mother’s womb, the angel in charge of putting in the voice box must accidentally grabbed from the “Non-Inspiring” rather than the “Awe-Inspiring” box. There was no way on God’s green earth that I was ever going to carry a tune, or join the church choir for that matter.
I also love to go camping.
The fresh air.
The smell of the fire.
The stars at night.
The family time.
There is something amazing about waking up to the sound of birds singing their praises in the morning light. Unless that bird happens to be a crow.
Have you ever heard a crow squawking in the morning? What a terrible sound. It sounds like the alarm in a submarine under attack.
The kind where it’s all you can hear and it’s warning you that something bad is about to happen.
It’s the sound that makes me wish that the bird had an actual snooze button on it..
I remember a time where we were camping with some friends and a whole flock of crows thought it was a good idea to land on the grass next to our tents and sing like a choir of angels.
It didn’t take long for one of the guys from another tent to rush out at them screaming like a mad man.
Then, on another camping adventure, something struck me.
As I laid in my tent, listening to the un-soothing sounds of the crow in the tree above me, I realized that God made that crow. Not only did He make that crow, but He made it the way He wanted it. That means, when God put it together, He chose the sound for its voice.
And He said it was good.
Pondering this, I started to become thankful for the crow because somehow on Gods’ green earth, it sounded good to Him.
That comforted me. If the sound of the crow is good to Him, just maybe my squawking could be good to Him too.
I love how the Psalmist writes that we should “make a joyful noise to the Lord” (Ps 100:1, KJV).
He doesn’t write that it has to be on tune.
That comforts me, too.
Even though He knows my inability, the God of the universe wants me to praise Him.
Even though He knows that I could give that crow a run for its money, the God of the universe wants me to praise Him out loud.
So how do I do that? Here are 3 thoughts:
1. It’s a NOT a choice.
When the psalmist writes, “make”, it is a “strong invitation to worship God” (Matthew Henry). There is no caveat to worshipping God. No required voice lessons. No certain skills required. We are simply called to worship God. That also means that God allows it. The God of the universe wants us, His creation, to worship Him. So we just need to.
2. It’s a JOYFUL noise.
Trust me, when I sing, “noise” is a good way to describe it. But what is my motive? Is my motive to be heard by others, or is it to bring praises to God? If it’s to praise God, then why wouldn’t I have a well of reasons to be joyful? If all He ever did was die for me, would that not be enough to be joyful?
3. It’s to the LORD.
I am not singing for the crowd. I am not singing for the person next to me. And I am definitely not singing for myself. So why do I allow those three to stop me? I mean, who gets to determine whether it’s good or not anyway? It’s not like I’m auditioning for any of those idol / talent shows where imperfect people judge imperfect people. NO! It’s the perfect God inviting the imperfect human into a deeper relationship with Him. As long as it’s connected from my heart to God’s heart, the joy comes from an authentic source. And this is the kicker: He welcomes it! It’s for Him! That means that I, even I, can praise Him out loud.
And maybe that’s why I love concerts so much. It’s one place where this crow can disappear into a crowd and still be heard by God.
And He says it’s good.
As I sat at that concert with my friends, inviting Jesus to look at all the people praising Him, something grabbed me. It was like Jesus was right there in front of me and pulled me up by my shirt as He said, “And you’re one of them!” I shot out of my seat, lifted my hands, closed my eyes, and just praised Him.
The crow joined the choir.
Maybe it’s time for us to take our eyes off of ourselves, stop judging our own inabilities, look to God, and praise Him for who He is.
And just maybe the next time you go camping, instead of hating that crow in the tree, you will appreciate how it is part of a larger choir, praising God to the best of its abilities.
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Brad in 2 Sentences:
I love to write and teach people of all ages about Jesus. If I can tell a story and tell you about Jesus at the same time, even better!