Summary: How the seemingly caring can lead you astray with false doctrine.

I want us all to think back to a time in our past; some of us to the not quite so distant past. For others of us, maybe back to some of our earliest memories.

I can remember some of the things in my very early youth was singing songs like “London Bridge” and “Row Your Boat”. I also remember some of the stories that I was told or read to. And I’m not sure why, but when I think back, it seems to me that a lot of those stories could be a little scary.

Really. I mean cover your head and shut your eyes. Some of them were, of course, scarier than others. Jack and the Beanstalk didn’t seem that scary to me. So there was a giant. Big deal! I mean anybody who says things like “Fe Fi Fo Fum” didn’t really seem to be a big threat.

And the three little pigs. Now there’s a classic! First of all, I’ve never been able, even to this day, to figure out why the man gave the third little pig his bricks. I mean, the straw and the sticks can just be gathered up. But you don’t normally find bricks just lying around like you might straw and sticks, and I can tell you that if I was packing a load of bricks I think I’d have a purpose for them.

And then there’s the wolf: Thinking that he could blow down a brick house. He has to be some kind of kin to Wile E. Coyote.

But I’ve gotta tell you, there were some of those stories that could really put a fright into me. Now this might sound a little funny coming from an old, fat preacher, but I was always a little shook up by the story about Little Red Riding Hood.

Yeah, I know. Tra-la-la-la-la and I’m on my way to grannies house to take her some lunch in my picnic basket. It wouldn’t be much of a story if that’s all there was to it. But its not! Remember the Big Bad Wolf?

In Jack and the Beanstalk and the Three Little Pigs, everybody knew who the bad guy was and what to expect of him. Jack knew about the giant. The giant’s wife warned him. The pigs knew about the wolf. Their mother warned them. They knew what might happen! Little Red Riding Hood, in all her innocence, didn’t know that the wolf had already eaten her grandma, and was using deceit to have her as his next course.

In the same way, deceit was used with Hansel and Gretel. In this story though, it’s a little hard to tell who the bad guy really is. There is the witch, of course, who deceived the kids into thinking that she was just a nice, old lady, all the while planning to have them both for dinner, just not as guests. The first villain in this story though, is the mother. Demanding that her husband take his children out into the woods and abandon them there, knowing full good and well that there’d be peril for them at every turn until finally, they’d be overtaken by beasts or starvation.

But, unlike Red Riding Hood, Hansel was not so naïve. He’d heard the truth and made preparation to rescue both himself and his sister.

When it was time for their father to take them out into the forest, Gretel kept the small piece of bread they’d been given while Hansel’s pockets were full of shiny pebbles. As they walked along, he’d stop every so often to drop one of those pebbles.

Well, it came about that they were left behind in the forest, but thanks to Hansel’s pebbles, they were back home the next day.

However, once again the villain, the mother, told the father to lose the kids in the woods. And although Hansel and Gretel heard this, Hansel, this time, didn’t have a chance to gather any pebbles. Instead he dropped crumbs of bread, which the birds made quick work of.

It’s at this point, when they’re lost and searching that they become the most vulnerable to the scheme of the witch. Her plan is to fatten them up and then devour them.

As it turned out though, the witch made one crucial error. You see, Gretel was a girl of faith. And she prayed, “Dear God, do help us. If the wild beasts in the forest had but devoured us, we should at any rate have died together.”

The witch with her wicked ways tried to quiet Gretel’s prayers, and then tried to trick her into climbing into the oven to be cooked.

Gretel however, turned the tide on the witch and cast her into the fiery oven. Then she ran to release Hansel, grabbed the treasure, and headed for home.

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