Devotion in Motion: A closer look at toys

42 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble,

       it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck,

       and he were thrown into the sea.    ~    Mark 9:42 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Susan likes to tell people that I’m “the real Dr. Doolittle” because I’m constantly talking to animals. It’s a habit I picked up from my grandmother. She always talked to pets just like they were people, and she always got good results.

Once, after Sunday dinner, I was visiting with a foreign missionary who we were entertaining in our home. The pastor still ministered to the people of his native country. He overheard me talking to my Siamese housecat, MacArthur McBeath. I was surprised at his reaction to this.

“Dr. John, if you were living in my country, you would not care for the cat and speak to it like you’re doing,” he said. “The people are superstitious and believe they’re surrounded by evil beings. They believe spirits and ghosts can live inside an animal. In my country, that cat might be somebody’s dead grandfather!”

This week, Susan and I have been getting shoe boxes ready to send to the orphans of this pastor’s mission. It’s an annual tradition at our church, but this year I did something a little different. I ordered a huge box of almost 400 toys from Ebay. They had belonged to a collector who had saved the prizes that come with children’s fast food meals over the past couple of decades.

We were amazed and pleased at the wide variety of toys we received in the shipment. But Susan made an astute realization. “Whatever we send to the foreign children is going to be their first exposure to the United States of America. And many of these toys are apt to be frightening to them.” Indeed, after I gave the toy collection a closer look, I saw what she was talking about.

There were figurines that looked like monsters, demons, and representatives of the occult. There were fighting figures and angry figures and things that were just plain strange. We had to discard a great number of them. And it made me realize something about myself. I gave my own children a lot of violent things to play with, without giving it a second thought.

The great children’s pastor, Mister Fred Rogers, once said that toys are very important. He said that the kinds of things we give children to play with show them what kind of world we want them to build. I think we all need to give this a little more thought.

The culture we live in right now is heading in a direction that’s divisive and toxic, and soon it will be our children’s turn to try and repair it. Let’s pray for wisdom as we search to supply them with the proper building blocks.

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 32 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He’s a retired Mississippi public schoolteacher with grown sons, and is now a stay-at-home-grandpa with his grandson, Landon Cash. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a brick house in town (where the shoe boxes are almost ready to ship.)  You can send him a note at