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On Raising Savages: Making All Things New

By Kris Green

“Mommy, I’m too old for this kitchen!” Tenny, now a full-blown four-year-old, announces.

I pause in my room, listening to the conversation between him and my wife. My wife, the avid child negotiator, asks if Natalie can have it. I listen as my son doesn’t answer the question, at least not at first.

The week before, my wife had asked me to help get the diaper changing table out of my daughter’s room. She had spent the week of Thanksgiving potty training my daughter. The kitchen area would be a good fit for my daughter’s room, whose diaper changing table had clung to its spot as I procrastinated my husbandly duties.



In ancient times, when you take over a people, there are certain steps you must take to eradicate your enemy. There are things that you must do to ensure that they will not revolt against you. Obviously, you can kill everyone, but that’s not as profitable as gaining more people and land. So, you begin by breaking their belief structures. But it’s not enough to break them; you must replace them with your own. This includes how they worship and how they act.

Then you interbreed. In ancient times more than now, many cultures believed it was important to have a pure bloodline. Interbreeding would create offspring who are raised in a foreign land with a foreign people with little knowledge of where they came from and who their people originally were. Dilute the blood, the traditions, and then beliefs start to change, and before you know it, the people who were your enemies are now part of your kingdom.

Around 930 B.C., Israel split into two kingdoms (Israel and Judah). We know that the Assyrians took over Israel (approximately 720 B.C.), and then gradually interbred and reeducated them right out of their distinctive Jewish heritage. Those Israelites fade into other countries and cultures and out of the spotlight of history.

When Judah was taken over by Babylon (586 B.C.), Daniel and his friends and many young men were taken into captivity. The re-education began. They learned the new customs of Babylon. There was no temple for them to worship their God. There were temples to the Babylonian gods, but the God of Israel and Judah was seen as weak because now, God’s people were in captivity. Then, the Babylonian king laid out new food to eat. No longer was there any social pressure to conform to the Jewish dietary laws. Then they started learning about their new kingdom of Babylon.

They were being changed from Jewish young men to Babylonians.



The next morning, I take my son down to my office. I ask him what he wants to do with the space that the kitchen playset would leave. He hasn’t thought of it. I can see him thinking, processing, but he doesn’t have an answer.

When my son went through potty training, and then going from a crib to a bed, we created a rule. This early in life, change is so regular that it’s hard to keep up. Change can be difficult but also exciting. The rule: if something comes out of our kids’ rooms, it needs to be replaced with something new and exciting to inaugurate them into that next stage of living.

My son lost the diaper changing table and received a small bookshelf nook where he could sit and read and put his toys on. When my daughter inherited her crib, before she was born, he got a new big boy bed. We overblew the excitement of the new big boy bed to help ease the feelings of sadness and connection that he had to his crib.

He had a little bassinet when he slept next to us for his first couple of months of his life, but he doesn’t remember that. To him, the crib was all he knew. We spent a day hyping up the new bed and then moved it in. We then took apart the crib and put its pieces in my daughter’s room.

That night, he still asked for his crib. I showed him the crib pieces and talked to him about his new big boy bed. I hyped the excitement even more. I remember looking over at my wife, her hand resting unconsciously on her pregnant belly, and smiled. After the first night, he didn’t look back.



Change is a part of life. Maybe not always a good part, but it’s a vital part. There are two kinds of change, and it all relates to our own power in the matter: the change that you create and manifest, and the change that is out of your control. One change is intentional: I’m going to take a kitchen playset out of my room; and another is: I’m a slave in a new kingdom forced into a new way of life.

Change can manifest in a variety of ways. Being healthy is not something that will just happen if you’re sitting eating what you want to eat and doing what you want to do. Striving toward being healthy requires actively eating right and maybe not as much as you want to eat. It requires a certain degree of activity, from going to the gym, to walks, to doing something more than resting in default mode. If you’re a calorie counter, your counting calories. If you a carb counter… you get it.

If you’re passive in this change of health, you will still change. You’ll, more than likely, get fat. Your health will worsen. High blood pressure and diabetes are just part of negative change that happens unless you work toward some form of health.

Change happens all the time. You will either be a victim of it or a savage controlling it.



There’s not a good indication that Daniel knew quite what the Babylonians were doing. Maybe he does. Maybe he understands on some level, or maybe it is just his conscience saying, no, this isn’t good.

Daniel, a young man, is being wooed by the riches of Babylon and brought into the King’s palace and being offered the best foods of the kingdom. Food that, to most of those Jewish boys, looks and smells wonderful.

Daniel, a savage, refuses to eat the King’s food. He refuses the wine and sought only to live on fruits and vegetables.

I tried living off fruits and vegetables for a week. I ate some beans and some carbs but overall, I was miserable. My wife tells me I should’ve planned it out better. But I was hungry almost constantly. I normally eat once, sometimes twice, a day and my first day of not eating meat, I had six meals of vegetables and fruit. And yet, I was still hungry.

Daniel and his friends lived off only fruits and vegetables. I barely made it a week and they made it a lifestyle.



The Babylonians knew that if they just destroyed the temple and its holy artifacts that it might not be enough to extinguish the belief in a person’s heart. It needed to be replaced. Custom replaced by another custom is really the best way to remove someone from where they are.

It’s the same with dieting. If I’m eating a bowl of ice cream at night, it’s a lot harder to stop cold turkey. It’s better to replace that ice cream with an apple. The dopamine high you might get from the sugar in the ice cream will hit different than the apple, yes, but habits are hard to break for a reason. Replacing takes effort.

It’s the same with being a smoker. If you’re used to going outside for a nicotine kick, just staying busy won’t always do. Maybe you go outside and socialize with other smokers at the same time. Going into the breakroom and getting a cup of coffee does the same thing with a similar reward. It’s hard to just kick a habit; you must replace a habit. Recovering alcoholics go to meetings instead of bars.

Habits don’t change unless you are intentional to create something new. We don’t remove something in our kids’ rooms needlessly, we replace them because we want to create something new. Something exciting.

Change isn’t a bad thing if we lean into it and be strategic about it. Change for the sake of change won’t do anything, but change wanting to make our world a little better and a little more livable can make all the difference.



I take my son to a store to look at desks the next day. We walk around and talk about the three on display. He picks one, the largest, asking me to lift him up to the display so he can see inside the drawers. He nods approvingly before asking for that one.

My desk is the center of my office. I don’t need an office if I don’t have a desk. Writing is as important to me every day as reading, and I spend every day, rain or shine, holiday or birthday alike, in it for at least some time.

Often my son comes down to the garage where my office is now and creeps around the stacks of boxes of decorations and memories and even lawn tools before coming across the section that I’ve marked off with tall bookcases and a rug to call my own space.

I wonder how much he takes in, seeing his father dutiful at a desk. The morning I’m writing this, he comes down with a bowl of homemade donuts that we made together and then puts the bowl down, wanting to go get his paper and markers so he can sit at my desk with me, and we can work together.



The Babylonian guard in charge of Daniel pleads with him that if Daniel doesn’t eat, they will all be in trouble. Daniel and his friends stand fast. They declare they’ll look healthier in ten days. Daniel beseeches the guard, “Test us and see!”

The change that the Babylonians want to instill is wrong. The Jewish law exists to make the Jewish people separate from other people. That separateness is another way of saying holy. God through Moses instilled the law so that the Jewish people would be holy. God’s regular refrain throughout Scripture to his people is: “Be holy (different, separate, godly) because I am holy (different, separate, godly).”

The problem with holiness is it’s a lot of work. Like eating healthy, holiness needs to be intentional and strategic with effort. We cannot be passive in our pursuit of holiness. Holiness will not come by reading the Bible in the morning and not thinking about it for the rest of the day no more than if I were to eat a salad a day and think I can eat whatever I want for the rest afterwards and be healthy.

Holiness must be challenged. If there is no temptation, then there is no reward. If I don’t ever smell baking cookies, maybe I’ll fight the battle to eat less cookies more easily, but that’s not a guarantee.

If I want to be holy, I must direct my focus on what is unholy in my life. It’s not enough to stop doing my sinful nature. It’s not enough to not say that potentially funny and maybe hurtful, inappropriate comment. But maybe to say something uplifting instead of just being quiet. To be holy, you must replace the evil with good.

God rewards Daniel and his friends’ faithfulness. They look better than everyone else. God blesses them, the book of Daniel tells us, with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. They took the risk, the effort, the challenge of holiness seriously, and God rewards them.



The day gets away from me. I’m writing, reading, I cut down part of a tree and fall on my backside with my son tagging along most of the day. Then during his time in his room where he knows to be quiet and play by himself while his sister sleeps, he sleeps too. There’s a nice quiet in the house as everyone settles and rests.

The kids get up and the hurricane begins again. I carry the desk upstairs and start building in his room. It doesn’t go completely well. My son is jumping up and down around me and I’m trying to follow the thick booklet of directions and there are thousands of screws and pieces that make me doubt this entire venture as a real possibility.

I make some headway when my wife gets the kids to eat dinner, but then, suddenly, they all appear. My son and wife remind me that I had said we’d get some cocoa and drive around to look at Christmas lights tonight.

We go, desk half-finished. The kids look out at Christmas lights. We celebrate the season where we remind ourselves that God was making something new. He wasn’t taking the law of Moses away, but rather, he was replacing it. The season feels magical, even in the 70-degree days of Florida.

Ezekiel says that God will replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh (36:26). Jeremiah says that God is writing his law (on how to be holy) onto our very hearts, these new hearts of flesh (31:33). Revelation 21 talks about the older things going away and then being replaced with the new. Jesus, in that chapter, declares, “I’m making everything new!”

We celebrate Christmas in December not because Jesus was born in December, but rather because when the Romans declared Christianity the religion of the empire, they replaced a pagan holiday with a Christian one. Just like God replaces our pagan hearts with holy ones. Just like the bad habits in our lives need to be replaced by good ones and a kid’s kitchen playset needs to be replaced by a big boy desk.

Christmas still feels magical in our hearts because we remember there’s something new happening. Change is imminent. A new life is imminent. As I see my breath briefly after the sun has gone down and the night cools off a little more, I feel the excitement I felt as a child. I feel the thrill that anything is possible.

I pray for the next year that it brings more blessings than heartache, not just for me but for the world. I pray for the loved ones I haven’t seen in a while. I pray to forgive and let go, maybe just a little bit more because God is doing something new in our hearts.

We get home from looking at Christmas lights, and my sons helps me finish building the desk. We slide it over to the window. I tell my son how I would arrange his room if I were him, but he doesn’t want it that way. He wants it his way. I laugh and relent.  

I put paper and new markers in the desk and close the drawer for him. I hug him and can still smell the hot chocolate on his breath as I tell him I love him. There’s a sweetness to the moment as I feel the love resonating inside my heart from God, reminding me of his own love.

“Behold,” I cannot help but think again of Jesus’ words in Revelation, “I am making everything new!”


Going Deeper

Christmas is an easy time to get lost in commercialism and popular fictional characters of the holiday. How do you spend time reminding yourself about what’s important for this season?

Check out this song: Shaun Groves, “Welcome Home” – What places in your heart does God need to do a little renovating?

Is there an unhealthy habit, thought-process, or action that God wants to replace?

What does God want to do with your life / heart / soul in 2024?


Kris Green lives in Florida with his beautiful wife and two savage children. When he isn’t working his day job or writing at the crack of dawn, he’s spending time with them.
Kris has a bachelor’s degree from Trinity College of Florida in counseling. He’s been published over forty times in the last few years by the wonderful people at Nifty Lit, The Haberdasher: Peddlers of Literary Art, In Parentheses Magazine, Route 7 Review, BarBar Magazine, and many more. He’s won the 2023 Barbe Best Short Story and Reader’s Choice Award for his short story, “Redemption.”
While he often feels like he’s not qualified enough to give parenting advice, he began writing these observations within the last few years about what it means to be a father and trying to be strategic in his parenting. He’s not an expert. He doesn’t have teenagers and the headache that that encompasses. He’s not any more than a lifetime learner who upon hearing that his wife was pregnant, downloaded any book he could get his hands on about pregnancy and parenting. He is driven to do right by his kids and guide them to be as strong as possible in a world that only seems to want to hurt and steal from them.
Kris has been called quirky and unorthodox. Once, he asked someone who works with him to take out his hearing aid and allow a video of him to talk about the importance of not playing the television at max volume for his three-year-old. While he was declined his request, he is usually met with a sideways smile and a shake of the head.
Kris has been wrecked for Christ for over twenty years now. He originally went to school to be a pastor, but God closes doors and guides hearts.


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