Live For The Moment: 5 Moments That Every Father Should Live For

Last year we went on a family vacation to one of our favorite beaches.  We stayed at a quiet place way down the beach, away from where all the action is.  It’s more family friendly that way, but sometimes we venture down where the action is for dinner.  We happened to be there last year during spring break, and it was very crowded where the action was. One particular thing caught my attention; everywhere I looked there were t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and various other items with the letters YOLO plastered on them.  I asked a kid I saw what it meant, and he laughed at me.  So I did what any self-respecting man in his mid thirties does when trying to figure out what the kids are up to these days…I Googled it.  Turns out that YOLO means, “You Only Live Once”.  A predictably popular slogan for spring breakers grasping for a justification to do whatever they wanted.  I saw the appeal, but here’s the problem:

YOLO is a lie.

You don’t only live once.  You live everyday.  True, we aren’t promised tomorrow, so we should make the most of today.  But it’s probably a good idea to make the most of today in a way that doesn’t put tomorrow in serious jeopardy.  Just a thought.

Everyday is composed of moments that come and go.  It’s true that Jesus has called us to live  life to the fullest.  Life in Christ is rich and meaningful.  The Bible describes it as abundant life.  But this is not a justification to make as many reckless choices as possible in the shortest amount of time.  This is a call to find lasting joy in living for the deeper things in life, not to seek fleeting entertainment the shallow things.

As a Dad, part of my God given responsibility is to help my family find joy in the more significant moments of life.  Sometimes that means recognizing and seizing certain moments and making them significant.  We must not just “take life as it comes”, we must come to life and take it for the glory of God and the benefit of our families.

Here are 5 moments that every Father should live for:

Teaching Moments

Teaching moments come all the time.  Rarely do they come with a 2 minute warning so that you can be ready.  Taking advantage of teaching moments requires thoughtful preparation.  If you haven’t thought through what you want to teach your family, you won’t recognize the moments when opportunity strikes.  Spend time in the scriptures and reading books that inspire intentional parenting and discipleship.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will make you sensitive to teaching moments.  Often, dads miss out on teaching opportunities because they look a lot like hard work.  Pouring your heart into your family on a daily basis isn’t easy, but things that are eternally meaningful rarely are.

Serving Moments

Being a man of God doesn’t mean having a family that serves and worships you.  It means sacrificially serving them.  In a display of God’s grace, often sacrificial service will inspire your family to honor you, but that’s not the point.  Jesus set the example for us as a sacrificial servant; not only washing his disciple’s feet (he considered anyone who did the will of God to be family: Mark 3), but by serving them all the way to the cross.  Look for moments when you can display Christ’s sacrificial love to your family by putting their needs and joys first.  Model it, then humbly teach it.  Create a culture of selflessness and others-centeredness in your home, not a culture of selfishness.

Comforting Moments

There will be moments in your family’s life when the brokenness of the world crashes in, and the people you love are hurting.  The Bible teaches us that God is near to the brokenhearted.  We model our Heavenly Father’s love when we compassionately care for our families in times of pain.  If there are people in your house who are hurting and you are not making your presence felt as a comforter, stop reading this article and go do what needs to be done.  Ask God to help you see the hurts of your family with His compassionate eyes, and show his strength by being there for them.

Worship Moments

clouds

Yesterday I was walking into the grocery store and I was struck by the beauty of the evening sky and an approaching thunderstorm.  I stood there for a while and worshiped in quiet appreciation.  Then I took a picture, found this scripture and went home to share my experience with my family.  “He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth; he sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.” Psalm 135:7 Perhaps the moment will come as God miraculously meets a need in your life.  Perhaps the worship moment comes through a song on the radio, or a word of wisdom from a friend.  Marvel at God in your heart, but share the wonder with your family… make the most of it.

Blessing Moments

Determine in your heart that you will regularly, and often, communicate to your family how they are a blessing from God to you.  Thoughtfully express to each person, individually, how they bless your life.  Let them feel the joy they bring you.  It may take some effort and courage, but the alternative is having a family that never knows how much they mean to you.  Young people treat themselves carelessly because they don’t feel valuable.  Wives struggle to feel confident because husbands don’t make the effort to show them their great worth.  I try to tell my children on a regular basis that they are my treasures.  I treat them with thoughtful care because they are worth so much to me.  My hope and belief is that they will grow to see themselves as people of great worth and value, and make life choices accordingly.  Interestingly, the more we teach our families what a blessing they are to us, the more of a blessing we are to them.  Parents should strive to be a blessing to their children at all stages of life, and children should likewise always seek to honor their parents.  Be a blessing, and leave it to God to inspire them to honor you as you have honored your Heavenly Father.

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Missing the Point of Marriage

As I have read articles outlining the current debates about marriage, and seen my friends’ comments on Facebook and Twitter I have felt a growing concern that we are all missing the point. I’m certainly not saying that I get the point and no one else does, but I am saying that I feel burdened that there is a deeper, more meaningful discussion about marriage that hasn’t happened yet. My goal here is to share a few of the thoughts that are on my heart in such a way that a respectful, and more meaningful dialogue might be encouraged.

As a minister, I have been privileged to officiate in a few weddings. In each, I have been reminded that there are two sides to the coin of marriage. A great deal of time and energy is invested in the ceremony itself. The minister shares a word about the importance of marriage. Vows are made before God and witnesses. Rings are exchanged. All are physical expressions and symbols of spiritual significance. And at some point after the service the couple will sign the marriage license. This however is not of spiritual significance. It’s of legal significance, and even though the wedding may be over, the couple will not be married in the eyes of the law without it.

One of the problems in our public dialogue about marriage is that we are not all talking about the same issue. We’re talking about the same coin, but some are concerned about the legal side and others are motivated by the spiritual. In many cases neither side understands the other. Some are trying to argue for the legal side by using spiritual language. Some argue for the spiritual side using legal language. Neither approach is very effective and both sides end up feeling misunderstood and threatened.

Too often, Christians appear more calloused, narrow-minded, and judgmental than anything else. The motivation is to defend the spiritual significance of a sacred institution, but the problem is that most don’t understand that spiritual significance enough to be persuasive; and so they default to attempts at legal logic. Pride gets involved, people feel threatened, and pretty soon more people are hurt than heard. It’s hard work to dig into God’s Word and discipline ourselves to thoughtfully and compassionately engage people with love. Instead, we abandon the value of any spiritual perspective, and allow the issue to be reduced to one of legal and logical reasoning. It’s like a doctor trying to talk his patient into getting heart surgery by discussing his insurance coverage, rather than his physical concerns.

I am not going to attempt to make a legal/logical case for traditional or biblical marriage. There is plenty to be read on that perspective in other places. I am concerned with the spiritual significance of marriage. Marriage is a complex and compelling display of God’s nature and love for mankind.

Christians ought to advocate a biblical understanding of the gospel more than anything else. The truth is that if we understood marriage correctly, our public debate about marriage would be more about the beauty of the gospel than anything else.

I truly believe that Christians ought to advocate a biblical understanding of the gospel more than anything else. Too often we fancy ourselves making forays into the world of law and politics, driven by morals and values alone. Of course Christians have a place in politics, law, and in every field of work. However we must remember that there is no such thing as moral or ethical issue apart from the gospel. For the Christian, everything is about the gospel. If I am passionate about an issue because of moral and ethical concerns, it should be because I am persuaded that by expressing my position I can show a broken and hurting world the grace of God. I might also aspire to offer solutions that display God’s priority of justice or that solve problems which individuals cannot solve for themselves. In this way the love of Jesus is the solution which we apply to the problems of the world. Such is the case with the issue of marriage. If we fail to make the case for a biblical understanding of marriage by telling the world about how much Jesus loves people, then we have lost sight of our most precious priority.

The Apostle Pauls explains in Ephesians 5,

22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage.

29-33 No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become “one flesh.” This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.” The Message

The message of marriage is that in ordaining this mysterious bond between a man and a woman, God is teaching us something about how much Jesus loves people. In living out the sacrificial service of the husband, and experiencing the paradox of strength and submission in a wife; we become intimately aware of the nature of God and the radical love of our Savior. What is more, when men and women live out this mandate faithfully, we demonstrate the love of Jesus to the world. This is not political activism or legal maneuvering. It is not even promoting Christian culture. It is nothing short of evangelism.

Marriage does not matter because it is an ancient tradition to be honored. The significance of marriage between a man and woman is not a that it is a notion the Bible puts forth to oppose gay people. Such simplified suggestions are indeed narrow minded and calloused. The Biblical model of marriage matters because it is a beautiful display of the love of Jesus Christ.

Tim Keller, in his book The Meaning of Marriage, writes “It is the message that what husbands should do for their wives is what Jesus did to bring us into union with himself. And what was that? Jesus gave himself up for us. Jesus the Son, though equal with the Father, gave up his glory and took on our human nature (Philippians 2:5). But further, he willingly went to the cross and paid the penalty for our sins, removing our guilt and condemnation, so that we could be united with him (Romans 6:5) and take on his nature (2 Peter 1:4). He gave up his glory and power and became a servant. He died to his own interests and looked to our needs and interests instead (Romans 15:1-3). Jesus’ sacrificial service to us has brought us into a deep union with him, and he with us. And that, Paul says, is the key not only to understanding marriage, but to living it.” (p.46)

If one is only concerned with the legal side of the marriage coin then this spiritual reasoning will make little sense. But I believe that the message of the gospel is compelling and that through it God speaks to the hearts of mankind. Like Jesus, it can be denied or embraced but it cannot be ignored. As Christians, we can afford to let the beauty of the gospel, on display in marriage, speak for itself. What we cannot afford, is to make a case for marriage that leaves the gospel out entirely.

It’s OK to talk to these strangers, they’re Wisemen.

Bible illustration c.1900

Image via Wikipedia

Some parental instructions are pretty obvious. “Don’t talk to strangers!”  It’s a common sense warning.  Our kids have picked up on that one pretty quick.  Then there are those variations on the obvious instructions that may not occur to you unless circumstances dictate.  The stranger isn’t talking to your child, their trying to give them food.  That’s right, food.  So you repeat the obvious instructions, and add the new variation.  “And of all things, don’t EVER take CANDY from a stranger!”  It would be funny if it didn’t really happen.  A few days ago we were leaving church, and a friendly man my daughter did not know came up to her and offered a candy cane.  Like all 3 year olds who have been taught well, she hesitated to take the candy.  She shied away from the harmless gentlemen and looked at us with that “I don’t know this dude but I sure would like that candy cane.  Is it OK?”  look.  We nodded permission, and she happily received the gift.  Some principles of parenting transcend time, place, and culture.  I bet “Don’t talk to strangers!” is one of them.

I want to call your attention to what I imagine was a profound moment in the life of baby Jesus and his parents, Mary and Joseph.

Church tradition, and a careful reading of the scriptures lead us to believe that The Magi, or the wise men were not present at the manger that night when the shepherds arrived to see the newly born Jesus.  Most scholars and church historians believe Jesus may have been as old as 2 when the Magi arrived with their extravagant gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh.  We tend to refer to “3” wise men because 3 gifts are specifically mentioned in scripture.  The Eastern Orthodox church tradition is that there were twelve distinguished foreigners.  These were also not simply “wise” men, or philosophers.  They were royalty.  They were kings from the east, most likely Babylon, or modern-day Iraq.  Kings don’t travel alone.  They were most likely a part of a large caravan, and the gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, were more than likely not given in small quantities either.  After all, they traveled to Bethlehem following a singularly spectacular astronomical event, which they believed was a sign that the King of the Jews had been born.

Using your scripture enhanced imagination, envision this moment unfolding.  The toddler Jesus is at home, playing outside in the warm sun.  His mother Mary, not far away keeps a watchful eye over her precious son.  Perhaps Joseph is away at work building something to provide for his family’s needs.  Or perhaps he is there, sitting in the grass, talking with Mary and enjoying the sound of his son’s laughter.  In either case, it becomes impossible to ignore the sounds of the large caravan drawing near to their residence.  It becomes clear that the distinguished looking foreigners are not passing by, they have come to Joseph and Mary’s home.  Their faces filled with wonder, the visitors move toward the small family bearing precious gifts which are intended as offerings to a King.

This is where the universal principle of “Don’t talk to strangers!” may have kicked in.  And this is the moment I want to point you to.  The child Jesus may have shied away from the strangers with extravagant gifts, bowing down before him.  Perhaps the entire caravan dismounted and knelt to the ground as their masters paid homage to the child.  Mary and Joseph knew who their son was.  They knew He was more than just the King of the Jews.  They remembered the angel’s pronouncements that this was God’s Son.  Mary adds another moment to her heart’s treasury which she would ponder over the years.

And so as the din of the caravan grows reverently silent, and the dignitaries have extended their beautiful gifts, the child Jesus looks to his parents for guidance and permission as to what to do.   In awe, Mary and Joseph nod their blessing.  “Go ahead Jesus, you deserve these gifts and their worship.  Go ahead baby.  You deserve all this and more.”  In the still, a smile plays across the face of the little boy.  A smile plays across the face of God.

Who are you anyway?

A mirror, reflecting a vase

Image via Wikipedia

Today when I was at home for lunch I had the bright idea to do a fun little experiment with the kids.  It all started when I made a crack to my son about his shorts and he looked down like, “I have shorts on!?”  My wife and I were eating at the table and the kids were playing in their rooms.  I decided to call them out one by one, tell them to close their eyes, and ask them what clothes they had on.

I called my son out first.  He closed his eyes just as he was asked and I said, “Describe what you are wearing.”  He kept his eyes closed but this incredulous look came over his face like, “You expect me to know that!”  I restated the question as he stood there in his brown t-shirt and grey shorts.  He stuttered a bit and then said in a questioning tone, “Blue shirt?”  Ha!  Wrong.  He opened his eyes, rolled them at his brown shirt and took off.

Next I called out my  8 year old daughter.  I gave her the same instructions and posed the question.  She stood there in stunned silence as my wife and I died laughing.  Finally she said, “What?”  She was stalling for time to think.  She brought her hands up and had to feel her night gown before she remembered.  Cheater.  We sent her off laughing.

Finally I called out the 3 year old.  I told her to close her eyes and she did.  (She had her hands full of puzzle pieces if you want the complete mental picture.) She was wearing a white t-shirt with some incriminating red Kool-aid stains on the sleeves.  I said, “What are you wearing?”  She squinted one eye, and peeked down with the other.  Even staring at her shirt she said, “White shirt?”  She was suspicious it was trick question.  “Good job!” we applauded!

I recently read that the gospel is so much more than a plan of salvation for the lost. It is the water in which a Christian swims everyday.  I have often been guilty of thinking of the Gospel as the diving board into the pool of Christianity.  But the reality is that the Gospel is the pool itself.  The beauty of this truth is that the deeper I swim into the Gospel the more I understand about who I am in Christ.  I realize that I am more sinful than I ever dared think, because my only possible remedy required God the Son sacrificing himself on my behalf.  In the wake of that terrible reality I realize that I am more loved than I ever dared dream, because Jesus did exactly that.  2 Corinthians tells us that “God had Christ, who was sinless, take our sin so that we might receive God’s approval through him.”

If you want to see yourself as you really are, take a look at yourself through the lens of the Gospel.   What you will see may surprise you, but it will be a surprise that will heal your heart. 

James 1 says in vs. 22-24 “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like.”

How many times have we heard God’s word taught, or read it ourselves telling us how we could find deep meaning in life through the message of the gospel; only to go on living  in frustration and confusion?  The only right response to the message of the scriptures is to embrace the love of Christ and allow it to shape us into the men and women God would have us be.   Otherwise it’s like wandering around not even knowing what kind of clothes you have on, or who you really are at all.

The Black Cloth

To me, one of the most beautiful expressions of the resurrection is a simple piece of cloth draped on a cross.  The sight of it, if we slow down long enough to see it, displays a deep truth that our souls long to know.

Timothy Keller gives a brilliant lecture on J.R.R. Tolkien sharing his faith by discussing  how the Gospel speaks to men’s deepest longings.  In it, he argues that the kinds of stories mankind returns to over and over again are stories which depict a love that is eternal,  a love without parting,  a love that overcomes death, and good utterly destroying evil.  All the great stories we love are stories about victory snatched from the jaws of defeat, and sacrificial heroism that brings life out of certain death. Tolkien points out that these are deep human longings.  These longings are woven into the fabric of our souls.  He says that human beings know at the fact level that people do have to die.  That evil often triumphs.  We know that, no matter how much you love someone, eventually you’re going to have to lose them, or that they’re going to lose you.  This is realism.  This is what modern thought tells us is the only reasonable way to look at the world.  We live, we hurt more than we’re happy, and we die.  End of story.  And yet underneath, all human beings feel that there shouldn’t be death.  We feel that we’re not meant to die.  We’re not meant to lose our loved ones.  Good should be triumphing over evil.  

Mankind was created in the image of God, and though marred by sin, we long for the things of God.  We long for reality to be what God intended it to be without the destructive presence of sin.  We long for perfect fellowship with God, unbroken by rebellion and without struggle.  We long to love and fear no loss or parting.  We long to wake up to the reality of life and find that death was only a bad dream.  We long for justice. 

And then, there it is.  That purple cloth draped on a cross for some weeks leading up to Easter.  It’s actually the liturgical color of violet that represents expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of Easter.

Then, on “Good Friday” the violet cloth comes down, and it is replaced by a cloth which represents death.  A black cloth. 

This is the moment when the realist points out the unreasonableness of hope.  Jesus did, after all, die.  His body was broken and did not withstand the punishment of the cross. He was taken from the cross and laid in a borrowed grave.  The religious leaders convinced the Romans to place a massive boulder at the tomb’s entrance.  His disciples cowered in fear and gave up hope.  The wisdom of the world would say that this is inevitably where all stories end.  The blackness of death. 

But then, no one cares for that kind of story.  This isn’t the kind of tale we tell ourselves in order to be touched down deep where inspiration happens.  There is that pesky longing again.  We long for what seems impossible.

I was privileged last year to preach an Easter sunrise service.  In the darkness of early morning I drove past our church, with its cross shrouded in black, and my head and heart were full of resurrection hope.  And then a thought occurred to me.  That black cloth needs to come down.  He’s alive and a black cloth is entirely wrong and inappropriate.  I pulled over, and walked back to the cross.  I was surprised by the surge of emotion I felt.  My eyes filled with tears as I ripped the black cloth of death from the cross.  It was my solemn pleasure.  Where there certainly had been death, there now is life.  Later that morning a white cloth of victory and new life found its place on the cross.

Those simple pieces of cloth had told the story.  Not just any story, but THE story.  Jesus’ story.  My story. 

Tolkien says so truthfully that, “There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true [than the story of Jesus], and none which so many sceptical men have accepted as true on its own merits.  To reject it leads either to sadness or to wrath.”  On Fairy Stories

There is a reason Jesus’ story moves us on so many levels.  It’s true.  It’s everything we hope for and need to be true.  When I pulled that black cloth off of the cross, I pulled it off of my heart as well. 

This Easter morning, the cloth of death will be pulled from crosses all over the world.  My prayer is that it will fall from your heart as well.  May the story of Jesus also become your story.  Doesn’t your soul long for it?

#socialmedia and your soul

I’ve been thinking lately about how social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter have made such a dramatic impact on how I interact with other people and my faith.  I’ve been active on these sites for a relatively short period of time in the grand scheme of things.  I had a MySpace page for like 5 minutes before I decided to upgrade to Facebook.  That was in 2008.  I started tweeting almost 3 years and 2575 tweets ago.  In a relatively short period of time my social horizons have widened tremendously.  I am more connected today to more people in meaningful ways than I ever have been.

One of the things I value the most about my experience is the connectedness I have gained with people who I otherwise may never have caught up with as regularly.  I also value the opportunity to interact with people whose ideas are influencing and inspiring me.  The other day I tweeted that I’d started reading a new book and that I was enjoying it.  Within 30 minutes I got a Direct Message from the author thanking me and making himself available for questions. 

But social media has had a tremendous impact on my experience as a believer as well.  In the next few lines I want to outline a few of the biggest ways that social media can be a blessing to your soul and experience as a Christian.

Exposure.  Proverbs 1:5 says, “A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel.”  If you make the effort, it is possible to build relationships with, and expose yourself to, wise men and women who will encourage and challenge you in your faith.  I am connected on Facebook with people who have blessed me with countless words of wisdom over the years.  If we weren’t interacting online, would I think to call all of them and ask questions or listen to their advice?  I doubt it, and I know it wouldn’t happen as easily and actively as it does now.  Also, I follow lots of men and women on Twitter who share bits of wisdom on a daily basis that I find helpful.  I follow professors, pastors, theologians, professionals, authors, and friends who write about their faith and experiences.  The exposure I have to their thoughts challenges and encourages me everyday.  Also, the more easily people can share everything from favorite songs to news articles and blogs, the more information we have at our fingertips to grow spiritually and learn about God.  If we connect in a wise way to the right people, the resources we have to deepen our faith and understanding are almost limitless.

Evaluation.  Proverbs 10:19 says, “Too much talk leads to sin.  Be sensible and keep your mouth shut.” NLT  I can’t say enough about this.  Social media provides  a wonderful opportunity to discipline ourselves so that what we say and share might be meaningful and not harmful.  You never know how what you tweet or share on Facebook might be received by someone.  What this means to me is that I need to be very thoughtful and intentional about what I say.  Of course this is true with my day-to-day speech, but I rarely  speak in person to several hundred people at a time.   I have the chance to do that online, and it holds me accountable to be disciplined.  The discipline of thinking things through before I put them out there for public consumption is invaluable.  Most people don’t have a strong enough filter between their brain and their mouth.  I don’t, I make mistakes all the time.   I know that what I say online can either bless, or cause a mess.  The discipline of stopping to think before I post is important.  I find that mental discipline carrying over to my day-to-day conversations as well.

A tweet cannot be more than 140 characters.  That’s not very many.  That means that what is said in a tweet has to be short and concise.  There are times in my days when something I read or hear gets me thinking about an idea.  Often its in regard to some spiritual truth that either encourages or challenges me in some way.  If I’m not intentional, I can get distracted and these moments can slip away without my really letting them sink in.  I find that if I pause long enough to form that thought into a statement of 140 characters or less and tweet it, it sticks.  It is the discipline of stopping long enough to meditate on important ideas.  I haven’t always had that discipline, and Twitter helps me in that area.

Evangelism. Sharing your faith effectively online, just like sharing your faith in person, requires wisdom, tact, and loving humility.  I find that it is so much easier to cultivate relationships with people who are far away from God on Facebook and Twitter than it is to have the time and opportunities to do so in person.  And honestly, I am convinced that online relationships are just as meaningful when it comes to being a blessing and encouragement to people who need it.  I am not saying that online relationships are all we need.  I am also not saying that you can type your testimony as a Facebook status and be exempt from sharing it face to face with anyone.  I am simply saying that I have lots of friends on Facebook that don’t know Jesus.  Some of them live far away and I never see them face to face.  Being friends on Facebook allows me the opportunity to thoughtfully interact with them in ways that will hopefully lead into opportunities for sincerely sharing my faith.  It also provides me a meaningful way to consistently live out a public expression of loving God, loving people, and serving the world.  If we are thoughtful, prayerful, and intentional, we can share Jesus through social media in a million meaningful ways.

These are just a few ways that social media has been good for my soul.  What would you add to the list?

A “Dear Santa” letter I’ll never forget

Santa Claus with a little girl

Image via Wikipedia

I appreciate David Lambert bringing this to my attention today.

I would have missed it.  A local newspaper printed a bunch of “Dear Santa” letters from elementary school age children in Thomson.  My daughter’s letter was one of those printed.

Scattered about the busy and frenzied days of our lives are brief shining moments when we are blessed to see the fruit of our labor.  As parents we strive to read the right books to our children, show them the right movies, guide them toward the right experiences.  We pray and plan, all in an effort to help our kids get it.  It’s a delicate balance.  Don’t force it.  Don’t be too strict or too pushy, but don’t be too lax either. 

We stressed over how to do the whole “Santa” thing.  I never wanted to be the self-righteous Santa hating Christian dad.  Too uptight.  Bonnie and I wanted to sincerely teach them that it was OK to have fun with Santa…but believe in Jesus.  We want to strike the right balance.  We want the kids to understand what really matters in life.

Below is the text of my daughter’s letter (complete with original spelling):

Dear Santa,

How is Rouldolph?  Is he lighting the way?  Could I have some snuggle animals that look like your raindeer?  Could I have a new girl Wii game?  The true meaning of Christmas is Jesus.  Did you know that?  I hope so. 

Your friend,

Summer

I choked back the tears as I read the last words.  That’s my girl.  Pure, honest, sincere.  May I be so genuine when I share my faith.

Do you know my Summer’s Jesus?

I hope so.