Celebrate the Diversity in Others (Letters to My Son)

Dear H,

Right now, for you, people are people. You don’t yet understand all the many ways one person differs from another. With time you will.

As you grow, learn to appreciate the diversity in humanity. In fact, you’ll have to fight to appreciate the diversity in humanity. For you see, in a broken world, we often live comfortable with those who are similar to us and suspicious of those who are different.

This should not be. We are all created in God’s image and nothing about our backgrounds change that, not social class, not economics, not ethnicity, not education, not political beliefs, and the list goes on.

Far from making us uncomfortable with each other, certain differences are meant to be celebrated. The differences in our tastes, our abilities, our skin, our cultures, and our dreams are part of God’s creative beauty infused into the story of humanity. While we should all long to be like Jesus, being like Jesus doesn’t mean that we all think, look, and act exactly like one another in these good differences.

We should neither try to force others into our mold nor should we refuse to surround ourselves with a diversity of others. Instead, we should celebrate the good things that make you you and me me, and enjoy the multifaceted expressions of God’s creation.

Love,

Dad

We are one body with many, different parts.

1 Corinthians 12:12

Image source: Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Always See the Worth in Others (Letters to My Son)

Dear H,

You love to look around. Whether it is church or a restaurant, anywhere with people, you will look around and observe. You take it all in for a few moments and then you start smiling and waving.

As you grow up, keep looking around. As you do, look at others for their value and worth.

The world has its fair share of people who are mean to others. Don’t be another voice in that crowd. After all, every person you see is made in God’s image. Every person is filled with worth, value, and dignity. How you treat others can help them realize this.

We’re to “honor everyone,” the Bible says. I’ve heard people say, “If you want my respect, then you have to respect me.” But, H, it doesn’t matter how someone treats you. You can’t control that. You can control how you respond. You can control how you treat them.

Treat them with dignity, even if they try to make it hard. Show them their value through your kindness. Help them to see, above all, that they matter to God. Let your life be a shining light.

Love,

Dad

Honor everyone.

1 Peter 2:17

Image source: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Dance to the Music in Your Heart (Letters to My Son)

Dear H,

It’s fun watching you as you near one. When music plays and you hear the rhythm, it doesn’t really matter what it is, you grin and start to dance. They’re silly baby dances, but you have fun.

Something happens to most of us when we grow up. We stop dancing, at least in that same way.

As a baby, you get to just be and do. Yes, some things, like all people, you need to learn to do–like walking and reading. Other things, like all people, you need to learn not to do–like hitting daddy in the face and trying to steal his glasses. As you grow up, though, you’ll start to feel the pressure not to be and do but to be like others and do what they do.

We want to fit in. And we should want friends and companions, but here’s the thing, son: Don’t change who you are just to fit in with people who look, act, and dress the same as each other.

God makes each of us different. He gives us the same purpose–to love him more than you love anyone else and to love others as much as you can. But even with that shared purpose, he has given you your own personality, experiences, talents, likes, and abilities.

Let those shine. Be you.

For sure, be the best you you can be. Be a you who loves Jesus and others. But be you by dancing to the rhythm in your own heart.

Love,

Dad

It’s you, God, who paint my life on your canvas. You shaped me inside and out. You put me together, built me, while I was still in my mother’s womb. For this I praise you: You’ve made me unique, a wonder, just like all the works of your hands.

Psalms 139:13-14

Image source: Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash

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

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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.

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 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