May 3, 2023
Sharing the first story from the first audiobook in the “Tales of the Kingdom” series, David and Karen Mains discuss the bottom-line message of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What is the kingdom of God? Well, bottom line, it is related to the king you’re going to bow before. If you bow your knee before Jesus, you are a part of the kingdom of God. But if you bow your knee before Satan, you’re not a part of the kingdom of God. It’s the kingdom of darkness or whatever. But those are primary messages. It’s a very simple message and the kingdom that Jesus talks about is a beautiful thing to be a part of.
David: Karen, if you were to ask the average American churchgoer what the basic message of Jesus was, what answer do you think you would get?
Karen: Huh, good question. You know, I think it would probably center on John 3:16 about a person needing to be born again.
David: I think you’re probably right.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife, noted author Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: The truth of the matter is Karen, that what Jesus talked about repeatedly was the kingdom of God. In fact, what you mentioned needed to be born again. That’s Jesus in John chapter 3. He’s talking to Nicodemus, and he says, “…except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” So, the basic message is the kingdom of God. But I’m not sure that’s where people are in their heads. The basic message of Jesus was the kingdom of God.
Karen: You know, I was raised in very conservative churches, and I don’t remember ever hearing a sermon about the kingdom of God or that Jesus taught about it.
David: My experience is the very same way. It was like a new message to me. What is the kingdom of God? Well, bottom line, it is related to the king you’re going to bow before. If you bow your knee before Jesus, you are a part of the kingdom of God. But if you bow your knee before Satan, you’re not a part of the kingdom of God. It’s the kingdom of darkness or whatever. But those are primary messages. It’s a very simple message and the kingdom that Jesus talks about is a beautiful thing to be a part of.
Karen: It’s like a little spot of heaven here on earth. And can I just say the kingdom is anywhere. The king rules and obedient subjects reap the benefit of his rule. Then you get a primary spot where we have unearthed the kingdom of God.
David: Somewhere along the way, Karen, as we’ve been in ministry for many, many years now, you said, “Let’s see if we can put those basic thoughts into a children’s story so that it just becomes so simple you can’t possibly miss it.”
Karen: “Or so attractive you can’t possibly miss it.” And I said that because I began to understand how frequently Jesus had mentioned this topic in his earthly ministry. It was an important topic to him. And yet we weren’t talking about it at all as an evangelical church broadly. So, we began to take those concepts and I consider you the co-writer of the books, The Tales of the Kingdom. It’s a trilogy. Because you did so much work in developing the theology in a way that I could understand it. And began to put in those books the meaning of living by a king’s rule in a world that he invited people into. And tried to make it very, very attractive through storytelling.
David: Those books were written probably, what are you thinking?
Karen: Oh, at the first one, at least 40 years ago.
David: 40 years ago. Most books after four or five years, people don’t talk about it.
Karen: It is gone.
David: They kind of took a life of their own. I don’t know how that happened. But now we’re in a situation where it’s exciting to us. There’s talk of doing animation. We haven’t shared this because it’s still in process and contracts and all the rest need to be signed in. That’s all moving forward very beautifully. There’s talk of an episodic series.
Karen: Television series, perhaps.
David: Talking about feature film.
Karen: TVM stage plays. It’s just kind of having a life of its own.
David: Yeah. And in some of these areas, I thought, well, I can do some of those things myself. For example, I could read the stories as a grandfather.
Karen: You agree with that.
David: It’s not that big a deal, but I thought, well, I can do that. And I began to do that. The interesting thing is the stories take about, I would say, 30 minutes, something like that.
Karen: To read, but you’re recording them.
David: That’s what you’re doing. And I’m having to do it with friends. So, I couldn’t do more than two sessions. And there are 36 stories, getting 18 of those different sessions with a recording person. There’s a lot of work.
Karen: There’s a lot of work.
David: I kept doing it, and pretty soon I had them all down. And now those stories are beginning to come back to us in complete form. And I can listen to them and I’m thinking, “Oh, my goodness, these stories are very, very good.”
Karen: And they’re called audiobooks. How many stories or chapters are in the first audiobook?
David: 12 stories.
David: And we have them available. And people can actually get copies of them and play them themselves.
David: I would like to play a section from story number one. And it basically talks about the difference between two kingdoms. It’s what Jesus talked about, but it’s in children’s literature. Having said that, let’s just give a little background because you created this thing called Enchanted City. Story number one sets up Enchanted City, which is where the pretender lives.
David: And that’s a very dark place.
Karen: Yes. The people live by the night, and they sleep during the day.
David: Yeah, they say, morning, morning, see you in the night.
Karen: Yeah, right.
David: Everything’s reversed, it’s all messed up.
Karen: And it’s a dark place. And the children who are orphans are taken into a world like child slave labor.
Karen: … and work for the Enchanter underground.
David: And there’s another place where the trees grow and where there’s beauty and there’s love. And that’s called…
Karen: Great Park and the king’s rule is there.
David: And right with story number one, you have the contrast of these two places. And there’s a young boy on Gassini’s probably 10, 11, 12. His mother has died, and he has a younger brother.
Karen: Little Child.
David: And he wants to find the place where the trees grow that his mom always talked about.
Karen: Yeah. This is a terrible place he’s living in. And the Enchanters men are going to take them into custody. So, he’s fleeing literally for his life.
David: I won’t read the whole of the story, but I’m going to read it about halfway through. “And he’s racing, trying to get away, but he’s also being chased.” And we’ll pick it up there. And then at the end of that reading, which you give you a feel of what I was doing, just thinking as an older guy, I like to just read these as a grandfather. We’ll talk about it.
A time man walked by calling the hour. Two more hours before the day. Suddenly Scarboy heard the drums. They beat loud and angry. Oh, the pop, pop, hmm, oh, the pop, pop, hmm, oh, the pop, pop. The boy knew they were drumming about him. There was no safety now. No hiding place. Every shadow could hold a burner.
The boy found a little money in his pocket. He had heard that taxi drivers could get you where you needed to go if anyone could, but would a taxi be safe? Surely the drivers knew the message of the drumbeats. Scarboy had to take a chance. He grabbed his brother’s hand, carefully looked up and down the street, then hailed a cab.
“Can you get us to the end of the city where the forest is?” he asked the cabbie as he pulled up to the curb. The driver looked the two boys over with shrewd eyes. “Sure. Sure”, he said, “…but hurry, curfew is coming, pay in advance, refund the homey in case of power failure.”
Scarboy took a deep breath and the boys climbed in. The taxi driver set his meter and connected the power. Screeching through little travel streets, he made his way quickly to a huge garbage dump on the edge of the city. Scarboy had never been there. “Into the line”, the man said urgently, “passengers out.”
Scarboy felt hesitant. “Is this near where the trees grow?” The driver leaned over the seat and opened the back door. “The line only goes this far. This here’s the dump.” Then he winked an eye and said, “If you look hard enough, you’ll find where the trees grow.” The boys climbed out and as the cab sped away, Scarboy thought he heard the man shout, “To the king. To the king.”
The phrase echoed through Scarboy’s mind. But he had little time to wonder about the cab driver’s strange farewell for the familiar sound of the drums, Oh, the pop, pop, hmm, oh, the pop, pop, hmm, oh, the pop, pop. He interrupted his thoughts and forced him to look around for a safe hiding place. Or better yet, the beginning of a forest. Little Child began to cough and whine. “Hush,” Scarboy whispered.
The two boys sat on the cinder road. A gray line of light split the sky above the world. Little Child fell asleep, but Scarboy couldn’t. He took his brother in his arms and began to walk. The sound of the distant drums motivating him, hoping for daylight to come. He forced himself to continue one step at a time for what seemed like hours.
“Something is wrong here”, Scarboy thought. In the dim light he realized that certain shadows were moving. Scarboy was sure he saw a distant form creeping his way. That one there. And that one. The gray in the sky spread. He could see better by its light over the hills of garbage. Ominous figures were moving his way.
Burners thought of Scarboy. Without a word they crept silently closer. One there. Another there. Scarboy’s knees were weak with fear. He was surrounded on three sides by an advancing menace. He could see them more clearly as the sky began to brighten.
The message drums were sounding far off from within the city, but they were beating faster and faster and faster. Quickly Scarboy stood erect and faced the shadows. He had not come this far to give up now. He bellows a little child in one arm and waved the blade at his pocketknife, defiantly with the other. “No”, he shouted, “I will not be your man. If there is a king, I will find him. If there is a way, I will hunt it out. I will fight you to the last.”
In the silence, Scarboy heard a strange and musical humming which seemed to come from the other side of an old gate he had not noticed. At that same moment they broke behind him. The sky flushed pale pink and warm to rose. The burners paused. Their eyes could not bear the bright light. They stopped shielding their eyes and tried not to look up at the ever-brightening sun.
In that moment of advantage, Scarboy turned and ran. He raced with a little child in his arms toward the closed gate, away from the enchanter’s stunned henchmen. While weeds grew around the stone gate post, the wrought iron latch was rusted. Breathless the boy stopped and rattled the gate. Just then the sun blazed, rating above them, and the gate began to creak slowly open. Waiting impatiently for entrance, the boy glanced up at the arch. Words were chiseled in the old moss-covered stones, Welcome all who hunt!
Scarboy squeezed himself and his brother into the ever-widening entrance. He was breathless. Little Child was heavy. How could he close the gate? And where could he hide next? “He who calls” asks a voice behind him?
The boy whirled to face the funniest-looking man he had ever seen. The character was tall and wore a small tree on his head for a hat. His clothes were a color between green and brown and gray. A giant set of keys dangled from a vine which circled his waist. He had long white hair and a long white beard, and both of them were tucked into his belt. His coat had pockets, and his vest had pockets, and his pants had pockets, all filled with pruning shears and scissors and trowels. The man was holding a hatchet, carved with strange markings in front of his face. Slowly he lifted it with both hands above his head, and Scarboy noticed that the musical hum was coming from the hatchet.
The gate slammed shut. The drums outside stopped beating. All was quiet. Scarboy was aware of only one sound. “Chirp? Chirp?” “How is that? A bird singing?” The sound fit his mother’s description. But he had never heard this melody before since there were no wild things in Enchanted City. He looked down at his brother in his arms. Little Child was as quiet as if he were in a deep coma.
“‘Welcome, Hunter,” the strange man said, and chuckled. He hung the hatchet on his belt. Every move he made sounded with jingling, tools bumping against tools, bumping against still other tools.
“‘Are you the king?” Scarboy wondered aloud. “‘No,” said the man, laughing. He walked close and lifted the heavy child from Scarboy’s arms. “I am one of the king’s men. I am a caretaker. You are Hero. Welcome to Great Park.” “That’s not my name,” the boy protested. His empty hand moved by habit to cover his scar. The man chuckled again. “That’s for your name, then you know,” he said, then turned and walked down the path.
Scarboy watched him. Every now and then Caretaker took a little hop. When he did, every inch of him jingled and chimed. The boy was astonished at this silly creature. “A king’s man”, he thought, his wonder increased. Caretaker stopped and looked back at him. “Come,” he called. “We will go to mercy.” Scarboy watched the man dance down the path. Then he noticed that a full day had come.
The boy looked around at the trees and bushes and glorious spreads of green grass, all growing things. He took a deep breath and filled his lungs with cool air. Hero! He would wait and see if such a name were his. A king’s man? But where then was the king? He would keep watch for a king. After all, seeing as believing as the enchanter had said.
One thing he did know. His mother had been right. It was not dark in this place where trees grew. There was hardly any darkness at all. The boy hurried to follow after Caretaker, feeling in his heart as though he had discovered something he had been hunting after all of his life. And so, the boy escaped from the perilous enchanted city because he was a hunter at heart, and hunters always find more than they know.
So that’s how story one of the book ends. What did you think, Karen?
Karen: Oh, they’re always wonderful stories, but I really loved the grandfatherly approach of David Armane’s reading them.
David: I’m glad, very self-conscious. But it was fun. It’s a big project, but it was fun and we’re in the middle of all this. If as a listener you’d say, I’d like to get a copy of that audio book, it actually involves four CDs, I don’t want to put a price on it. Our listeners are always generous. You just, what would you’re able to send?
Karen: A gift of any size, and if you don’t have money, many people don’t, just request it. We’ll be happy to send it to you.
David: Yeah. Dean, help us out. Let people know how to make contact with us.
Outgo: You’ve been listening to the Before We Go podcast. And if you would like to write to us, please send us an email at the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s all-lower-case letters. email@example.com. If you’ve enjoyed this podcast please remember to rate, review, and share on whatever platform you listen. This podcast is copyright 2023 by Mainstay Ministries, Post Office Box 30, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
To get a copy of Tales of the Kingdom Trilogy, go to this website https://kingdomtales.com/
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