Pursue Happiness (Letters to My Son)

Dear H,

Life is hard. You’ll figure that out in time. So, here is one of the best pieces of advice I can give you in light of that: Pursue happiness, the best you can.

Some will tell you that life isn’t about being happy. Some will say that God isn’t all that interested in your happiness. They’re wrong. The truth is: God is more interested in your happiness than you are and one of his aims for your life is to bring you into eternal happiness.

But here’s the thing about that: God does not intend for you to pursue happiness apart from him because there is no true and lasting happiness without him.

Some might tell you that you’ll find more happiness without God. And it’s true, there are momentary delights in many sins, but that’s the thing–they are just momentary delights. Their end is ruin and sorrow once the pleasure has passed. It is, rather in God and from God that you find “abundant joy” and “eternal pleasures” (Psalm 16:11).

Some might tell you that following Jesus is too much of a burden. That is only true when we let it be. Following Jesus is about love and joy and freedom. Yes, it challenges things in ourselves, especially that pull of sin and pride. When we embrace the challenge, though, we find rest; because, Jesus’ “yoke is easy” and “burden in light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Pursue happiness, son. Make it your life’s ambition. Seek to bring happiness to others. Above all, let God be the one to define and provide such happiness for you.

Love,

Dad

Happiness is found not in the advice of the wicked, the way of sinners, or the gatherings of mockers. No, true happiness is found by the one who delights in God’s word and ways.

Psalms 1:1-2

Image source: Photo by Stan B on Unsplash

God Is Relentless (Letters to My Son, “Five Things” part 5)

Dear H,

There are five things in life that I always want you to remember. The fifth is this:

God is relentless.

You’re almost one. You love to be chased and tickled. So full of energy, you could play the game for hours–me crawling around on the floor trying to catch you.

But I get tired. And sometimes I even feel old. Usually, I have to stop and crawl into my chair, exhausted, before you’re ready. What can I say? I’m only human.

God, however, never grows tired. He never grows weary. He is pursuing you and he will pursue you as long as it takes. Even if you try to give up on him, he won’t give up on you.

If you give to him your heart and life, he will take you and mold you and shape you to be the man he intends for you to be–to be a man of love and peace and grace. For life, you see, is a journey. Walk the path with God and even when you feel tired and lost, he will be with you, leading you home.

Love,

Dad

I know this to be true: God began his good work in you; God will keep working until that day Jesus returns and you are whole.

Philippians 1:6

Image source: Photo by Donna Borzyskowski on Unsplash

Today’s post is inspired by what Eugene Peterson would whisper to his children each night: “God loves you. He’s on your side. He’s coming after you. He’s relentless.” You can read the full story at The Christian Post.

God Is Pursuing You (Letters to My Son, “Five Things” part 4)

Dear H,

There are five things in life that I always want you to remember. The fourth is this:

God is pursuing you.

You will run. We all do. You won’t listen. That is ingrained in us. Ever since man first rebelled against God, we all walk that same path, and it doesn’t end well.

God could have left us alone on that path, but he loves us too much. God could have said, “You must find your way to me!”, but he knew we never would. So, he came as Jesus, he came to us.

There is a story in the Bible of a son who runs away. He rejects his dad and tries to find happiness in his own ways. It seems good for a while until he ends up in ruins. He worked a job feeding pigs and as he threw them their slop to eat, he longed for a bite.

So, he thought, “I’ll return to my dad and live as his servant. They have it better than this!”

What the boy didn’t know was that his dad was looking for him all along. The dad didn’t wait until the boy was home but ran to meet him and shower him in love. The boy tried to beg to be a servant but his dad hushed him and threw him the biggest “Welcome Home” party ever.

God is pursuing you because he loves you. But you will have to make the choice. Will you keep trying to run or will you turn and fall into his wide open arms where his voice says, “Welcome home, I love you, my son!”

Love,

Dad

“Find my best calf with the choice cut of meats. Kill it and cook it well. We need to have a party. My son is home!”

Luke 15:23-24

Image source: Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Today’s post is inspired by what Eugene Peterson would whisper to his children each night: “God loves you. He’s on your side. He’s coming after you. He’s relentless.” You can read the full story at The Christian Post.

God Is for You (Letters to My Son, “Five Things” part 3)

Dear H,

There are five things in life that I always want you to remember. The third is this:

God is for you.

Despite an abundance of proof, the original lie that tricked human beings into rejecting and rebelling against God was this: God hasn’t given you the best, he is holding back. It was a whisper that God is not for us.

But it is a lie. A terrible, no good, very bad lie.

God is the source of everything good in your life. And the best he offers is himself. He is good and he desires good for you. The good things he gives us are meant to lead us to him. For in him, we find the best. Jesus is life and joy.

The world will whisper to you that there are better things away from God and that he does not have your good in mind. Don’t listen to the lie. Trust him. Trust his goodness. Trust that he will use even the bad things for your good and forever-joy, when Jesus returns and makes all things right in the end.

Love,

Dad

The Lord, your God, dwells among you. He is strong and will save. In gladness, he rejoices over you. In love, he stills you. In song, he delights in you.

Zephaniah 3:17

Image source: Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

Today’s post is inspired by what Eugene Peterson would whisper to his children each night: “God loves you. He’s on your side. He’s coming after you. He’s relentless.” You can read the full story at The Christian Post.

God Loves You (Letters to My Son, “Five Things” part 2)

Dear H,

There are five things in life that I always want you to remember. The second is this:

God loves you.

There’s brokenness in the world. As you grow up, you will look around and see it. You’ll even experience it and partake in it. It is sadness in the story of humanity that ends in death. And the reason? We rebel against God and reject him instead of listening to him.

Yet, there’s hope in the world. God offers us forgiveness for our rebellion. His gave of himself, Jesus his dearly loved son, who came and lived as a man on earth. He was not broken. He did not rebel. Instead, he offered to become the rebel-in-our-place to give us his peace, life, and wholeness. It is happiness in the story of humanity that ends in eternal life beyond death.

That hope is the offer of God’s love to you. And that hope will be yours if you simply believe and trust in Jesus to be the rebel-in-your-place and the giver of forever-life.

My prayer for you is that you will believe and trust.

Love,

Dad

This is the way that God loved the world: He gave his only Son that anyone trusting in him would not be lost in death but have forever-life.

John 3:16

Image source: Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Today’s post is inspired by what Eugene Peterson would whisper to his children each night: “God loves you. He’s on your side. He’s coming after you. He’s relentless.” You can read the full story at The Christian Post.

Daddy Loves You (Letters to My Son, “Five Things” part 1)

Dear H,

There are five things in life that I always want you to remember. The first is this:

Daddy loves you.

Nothing will ever change that. My love for you is simply because you are you, you are my son. You will never have to earn my love. Nothing you could do will make me love you more. Nothing you could do would make me love you less.

I will not be the perfect father. I will not live up to this ideal every day. But I will do my best every day. I hope that when my life story is finished, you will know without question that daddy loves you.

Love,

Dad

(P.S. Yes, mommy loves you, too. But this is daddy’s letter. 😉 )

You are my dearly loved son. In you, I delight.

Mark 1:11

Image source: Photo by Szilvia Basso on Unsplash

5 Favorite Authors :: Faves for 40

May is the month I turn 40. To celebrate, I thought I’d do a series of posts about some of my favorite things.

Today: 5 Favorite Authors, in no particular order

1. Francis Schaeffer. He was a well-respected thinker and Christian apologist in the 1960s&70s. Yet, he was not a hardened intellectual. He had great compassion for people as he sought to lead them to Jesus. His works heavily influenced my early faith and continue to challenge me today.

2. CS Lewis. A theologian and a dreamer. Lewis knew how to stir the imagination as well as the soul. His works remind us that theology doesn’t have to consist of a bunch of cold propositions. Jesus often spoken in stories. Stories can help to form us spiritually.

3. Michael Crichton. He wrote a lot of popular fiction, especially of the sci-fi variety, during my teens and 20s. It’s not high literature, but there’s a lot of fun reading. And plus, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Dragon Teeth… there’s also dinosaurs. What’s not to like?

4. Jared C. Wilson. A very grace-filled and gospel-focused author of the present. You could say a lot about what he writes, but I’ll leave it at this: I’ve yet to pick up anything of his not worth reading.

5. Dean Koontz. This one is borderline on my list. He writes a lot of pop fiction, a lot, especially of the sci-fi and mystery genres. And not everything he writes is good. When you have published over 100 books, there’s bound to be plenty of duds. He makes my list for one main reason: The seven-book Odd Thomas series. Odd is a kid in his 20s who talks to ghosts, hangs out with the spirit of Elvis, and reluctantly solves mysteries. It’s fun, it’s quirky, it’s humorous…it’s odd.

Honorable mentions: AW Tozer, Os Guinness, Gary Paulson, Louis Sachar (who I pen-palled in the 5th grade)

Image source: Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

5 Favorite Favorite Places I’ve Visited :: Faves for 40

May is the month I turn 40. To celebrate, I thought I’d do a series of posts about some of my favorite things.

Today: 5 Favorite Places I’ve Visited, in no particular order

1. London. I’ve been to London six times, all on layovers, including two overnights. I’ve seen Big Ben, the Tower of London, Buckingham (at least the outside), British Museum, rode the Eye, and lots of rides on the Tube (mind the gap). It’s a big, multicultural city and there is still so much to see. I’d like to go back some day and spend a week.

2. Zion National Park. Hands down, ZNP is one of the most beautiful places I have been. And as much as I hate heights, I was able to do the Angels Landing trail. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that again, but the views were breathtaking.

3. Rocky Mountain National Park. I’ve been twice and managed to do some hiking surrounded by 14,000ft peaks. Where I live, we have hills. We even have some bluffs along rivers. The Ozarks have their own beauty, but goodness–to see mountains! One thing, though, if you make an unplanned trip in May, remember there will still be snow and you’ll need something more than a light jacket.

4. Zambia. When you grow up in a first world country, you don’t realize how much you have and how much you take for granted. Then you visit a third world country where people live on about $2 a day and the average lifespan is in the 40s, and it changes your perspective. There’s also something beautiful about walking through the African bush and stumbling across thatch hut villages.

5. The Ozark National Scenic River Way. Growing up, summer vacations involved seeing grandma and canoeing. Unfortunately, life has not permitted much time on the rivers of southern Missouri in recent years, but I have spent time in over my half summers in a canoe or kayak among the river bluffs.

Photo, mine

5 Favorite Candies :: Faves for 40

May is the month I turn 40. To celebrate, I thought I’d do a series of posts about some of my favorite things.

Today: 5 Favorite Candies, in no particular order

1. Reese’s Pieces. I know, everyone seems to love the peanut butter cups. I’m an odd duck. I like chocolate. I like peanut butter. I do not like chocolate and peanut butter combined. So, keep your cups. The great thing about pieces–no chocolate, just that straight up creamy peanut butter in a crunchy candy shell. (Oh, and there’s not much better than pieces mixed into vanilla ice cream.)

2. Whatchamacallit. The name says it all. This candy bar has a mixture of all the chewy, crunch, gooey deliciousness. Enough said.

3. M&Ms. Let’s go with a classic here. They melt in your mouth and not in your hand. Unless your hand is wet. Okay, maybe these are not the best candy to buy at the shack at the swimming pool. But, they’re crunchy and they’re milk chocolate and it’s hard to stop eating them once you start.

4. Cadbury Creme Egg. I sometimes question if these would be my favorite if they were readily available all year round. But, since they only appear near Easter, I enjoy them without them getting old. My only complaint is that I swear they’re smaller than they used to be.

5. Skittles. I almost put the Hershey Kiss here, but my list has a lot of chocolate already. Skittles are a fruity, chewy classic. Taste the rainbow, just avoid the weird commercials. I will say, they did drop a bit in my book when they replaced the lime with green apple. No. Just, no.

Image credit: Photo by vaun0815 on Unsplash

 

5 Favorite Bible Verses :: Faves for 40

May is the month I turn 40. To celebrate, I thought I’d do a series of posts about some of my favorite things.

Today: 5 Favorite Bible Verses, in no particular order

Zephaniah 3:17 – “The Lord your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will be quiet in his love. He will delight in you with singing.”

Ezekiel 36:26 – “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13 – “When all has been heard, the conclusion of the matter is this: fear God and keep his commands, because this is for all humanity.”

John 17:17 – “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”

Philippians 1:21 – “For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

Image source: Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash