Simply Living Like a Child

3 Things My Daughter Has Taught Me

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sharing our faith is easy, right? God has transformed my life and I should want to share that with so many people! So, why is it so difficult? The truth is, we make sharing our faith so overwhelming that we just don’t do it (here are some reasons why). It doesn’t have to be so complicated though! If we simply shared our faith ‘like’ a child, I think we would be much more excited to do so.

Simply Living Like a Child

I read a blog post from a friend of mine recently (Evangelism in 3 Easy Steps) and I thought about how simple evangelism really is. It’s almost humorous. God simply wants us to be who we are and live out that faith. I don’t always do well in that category, but I know who does — my daughter.

Rae is three. She can be quite the handful at times, but it’s amazing what she learns and understands about God. Yes, sometimes it means she walks around the house wearing her blanket over her head and calling herself Jesus. But many other times she simply has child-like faith.

Here’s what I mean…

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Fathers, Don’t ‘Relax’ on Father’s Day

Reflecting on God’s Blessings

Reading Time: 3 minutes

To all the fathers out there: Father’s Day has turned into, yet another, commercialized event on the calendar. If you love your Father, give him a card, gift, and make sure they have a relaxing day. I’ll be first to say, ‘I enjoy the attention;’ but maybe we’re missing something. Maybe Father’s Day is the best opportunity to reflect on fatherhood.  After all, what makes a father, a father? — kids. What would happen if, instead of focusing on ourselves, we honestly reflected on the amazing gift and responsibility of fatherhood?

Don't Relax on Father's Day

Sure, kids can still celebrate their father!  But maybe fathers should stop to reflect on the blessing behind Father’s Day — their kids.

I look at my kids and I’m blown away that God has blessed me with two of them. Sometimes I still don’t believe it!  The last three years were a beautiful blur of excitement.

Yes, sometimes they’re crazy. Yes, I want to bang my head off the wall from time to time. But I don’t have to think very long before I remember how blessed I am to be their dad.

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Halloween: Be a Light!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Every year the kids of our streets, neighborhoods, and cities go door to door asking the famous phrase: “trick or treat?”  If you live in North America, no matter what background you come from, you’ve at least witnessed the evening of October 31.  I grew up in a Christian home and we were always allowed to dress up and take part in this somewhat silly tradition.  That said, there was always a sense of the “unknown.”  What kind of costumes can we wear?  Do we take part in the “church Halloween party” or go door-to-door?  My brother and I definitely dressed up and had fun doing so, but let’s just say we were “seriously” encouraged to be a clown before a vampire.

halloween

Depending on your background, you may be reading this and think we were deprived children.  After all, Halloween is only a silly little tradition of dressing up and getting candy.  It’s true, the evil origins of Halloween are long forgotten, and the occasion is no different from any other retail-boosting, consumeristic date on the calendar. As I got older, however, I noticed something about Halloween – it’s still built on fear.

Fear is hardly a good thing.  A healthy fear (also known as “respect”) certainly has its benefits, but genuine fear leads to unhealthy discomfort, distrust, anxiety and worry.  As a Christian, I’m called to give those feelings over to God and He’ll take care of me (Psalm 55:22).  Why then, would I want to play on the fears of others?

The answer may be confusing, but here’s just a brief background to the Halloween we know today:

“All Hallows Eve”, “All Saints Day” and “All Souls Day”

Traditionally, October 31 has been known as “All Hallows Eve.” Hallow means “to make holy.”  The day points towards “All Saint’s Day” on November 1 – a day with feasts and celebrations in honour of all the saints.  November 2 follows as “All Souls Day” – a day specifically for those who believe in purgatory by where prayers are raised for every soul.  These three days have been traditionally a three-day celebration of those who have gone before us.i

Celtics and the Druids

Before converting to Christianity in Europe, the Druids had their New Year’s celebrations on the same dates.  It was believed that the souls of the dead could return home for a night, only to be kept away by sacrifices, feasts, dressing like them to appear to be one of them, or by using a jack-o-lantern (which would scare away evil spirits and provide a light).ii

Transition to Today…

In the centuries of development and transition, October 31 has become something very different.  We now call the evening “Halloween,” which literally means: “the evening of becoming holy (saints)”; and yet, socially means: “dress up in scary and/or fun costumes and hope to get as much candy as possible.”  While there are many evil traditions that have brought fear into October 31, the desire to have a protecting light’ seems to have always been present.

Salt and Light (Matthew 5)

Jesus refers to his followers as the “salt” and “light” of the earth.iii  In a night that is still heavily based on fear, Jesus calls His followers to be the “salt” and the “light.”  Jesus expects his followers to live out the life they have received and shine a light on the ultimate protecting light – Jesus Christ.

How can we be the “salt” and the “light” on Halloween?

Our church pondered this a couple of years ago, and came to this conclusion – “be light in a dark night!”  Here are some of the ways our church has taken action:

  1. Welcome kids

On the night when nearly every child in the community will come knocking on your door, I can’t imagine Jesus advising us not share His love and compassion.  After all, Jesus did say, “let the little children come to me…”iv  So don’t turn off your lights and lock your doors on Halloween.  Instead, meet every child with simile.  Be a light in a dark night.

  1. Share God’s love

You don’t have to literally witness to every child that asks, “trick or treat?”  But you can share God’s love by being warm and not fearful, by complementing their costume, or by squatting down to meet them in the eye and say, “have a fun and safe night!”  You can be a light in a dark night.

  1. Go Trick-or-Treating

What better way to show others how God has impacted your life, than by having fun and potentially diffusing the “fear” that’s normally visible.  Dress up as your favorite cartoon character, super hero, or maybe a household object like a lamp.  Have fun and be a light in a dark night.

  1. Meet a Need

Some towns have a Pumpkin Patrol by where adults volunteer to supervise the streets and to make sure kids stay safe.  Every year, our church gives out bags of candy, pop, chips and bars and offers free hot chocolate to all the parents.  It’s amazing how many chilly parents appreciate a warm beverage as their kids try to fill their pillow cases with candy!

Yes, some will still participate in devilish activities; yes, some will dress up in evil characters; and, yes, some will even play on the fears of others.  But it’s because of all of those things that make Halloween such a great opportunity to be a light.  Jesus is waiting for His followers to be the salt (something worth following) and to be a light (shining towards Jesus).  By welcoming kids, sharing God’s love, participating as a light, and meeting some simple needs on Halloween, we can be a light in a dark night.

Your turn:

How will you be a light on Halloween?


[i] “Celebrating Halloween, All Saints”, AmericanCatholic.org, accessed October 28, 2015, http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Halloween/halloween08.asp.
[ii] “Halloween: It’s Origins and Celebration.” EWTN, accessed October 28, 2015, http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/hallween.htm.
[iii] Mathew 5:13-16.
[iv] Matthew 19:14.

When She Brings Me A Book (Fatherhood)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For fathers…

Life is busy;
Days are short;
My calendar is full;
Projects are due;
Work isn’t done; and,
That’s when she brings me a book.

I have the privilege and challenge of being able to work from home. The flexibility is a blessing, but finding balance can be despairing. As a young father, time is not my friend and productivity only seems like a dream. As a solo pastor, my work is never done and only increases the closer Sunday approaches. I feel the responsibility of my calling as both a father and pastor, and know God has specifically called me to those rolls. My role as a father, however, can only be filled by me. My unique role is being a father to my daughter. That is why… when she brings me a book, I take a moment to look.

She’s not little for long.

This isn’t a difficult sell. My little girl seems to grow overnight! The saying, “the days are long, but the years are short,” isn’t overstating the truth. I read something recently that pointed out, “There will be a last time for everything.” Right now, she loves bringing me a book, sitting in my lap and “reading” the story together. Those moments won’t happen forever. There will be a last time she brings me a book. Here’s the question: will I be too busy to look when she brings me a book for the last time? As I fight back tears just thinking about my precious princess, I say with confidence… when she brings me a book, I take a moment to look.

A twenty year window.

Dad told me, “I only have twenty years to shape you boys…” That phrase has impacted the way I look at fatherhood. She’s going to grow up fast, but more importantly, I have to make sure I make the most of the formative years God blesses us with. If I only have limited time, why would I wait to build a relationship with my daughter? I can’t afford to wait; she doesn’t want to wait. I know that by the way she looks up and smiles at me after each page. If I wait, her wedding day smile won’t remind me that she’ll always love her daddy. I will make the most of our time. Will you make the most of your time? When she brings me a book, I take a moment to look.

Retirement will arrive, but fatherhood is for a lifetime.

No matter what role we hold in the workplace or community, none of us are irreplaceable. We may do a fantastic job doing what we do; but, at the end of the day, we can all be replaced, and will be replaced after we retire. Fatherhood, on the other hand, is completely different. Whether you father an adopted child, are a step-father or have fathered your kids from birth, fatherhood is a unique role and should be protected at all costs. The question is: why do we so often allow our temporary roles to trump our unique roles? Yes, we need to be responsible, provide for our families and do everything to the best of our ability; however, at the end of the day, fatherhood is a unique role that only a father can fill. That’s why, when she brings me a book, I take a moment to look.

Here’s the thing, these moments don’t have to derail life. It’s a moment, it doesn’t have to be for an hour, but that moment, coupled with her smile of satisfaction, is worth every second. In fact, a few minutes is often all she’s asking for. Even though I might have to take fewer breaks, reserve my lunch hour to play with crayons, or stay up a little later to finish some work (or write this post), taking a moment with my princess will help me make the most of her early days, formative years, and watching her mature.

Your turn…
You may be the father of a young girl, and this post is very relatable. You may be father, however, of boys or older kids, and you’ll have to replace “book” with whatever your kids like to do with you. For me, that moment will continue to change as she gets older. My promise is take advantage of the moments we have, so our relationship can grow from day one.

What will you do when your child brings you a “book”?

#MakeTheMost

When Should I Teach My Child About Giving and Tithing?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

#MoneyMatters is a Q&A category based on questions I have received on the topic of Christians and wealth, money & possessions.  If you have a question, email andrew@andrewholm.com , and I do my best in writing a response!

money matters

Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the Bible would just have a book about parenting in it?  It would answer all our questions about when, how, why, what to say, rules about age, and everything else, so we would all know what to do.  This, however, is somewhat wishful thinking.  In reality, we have a Bible that deals with us personally.  As much as I would love to have a book in scripture about parenting, knowing the Bible is about helping me through life is more empowering to me in the long run.

As we look into teaching kids about tithing, for example, the Bible teaches us how to be stewards of our own wealth and expects us to train our children accordingly (Proverbs 22:6).  What most of us miss, is that in the first part of Proverbs 22, the theme of wealth is mentioned several times surrounding this “parenting” verse.  Clearly, the fundamentals of giving and tithing are important to the development of a child and have a lasting impact.

Teaching your child about giving and tithing is very important.  Here are a few thoughts in responding to this question:

1. You teach best by doing your best.
If you believe in tithing, and you want your child to learn from it, make sure your child witnesses you tithing.  For whatever reason, we try and keep the financial matters of our lives private.  While there is no need for our kids to know or feel the pressures of money, the only way they’ll learn is if they see good financial stewardship in action.

2. Children are natural givers; don’t wait until culture reverses it.
I love seeing a child give without expecting anything in return.  My wife and I recently had a baby girl (Rae) and we were amazed by all the gifts she received by so many family and friends!  One of the gifts that stands out the most came from a little girl from our congregation, who, out of her own allowance, bought Rae a gift on their family vacation.  She insisted that she needed to give our little baby a gift.  Somewhere along the line, however, culture will try to strip that sweet giving nature away and replace it with a desire for personal gain, unless her parents counteract it with positive parenting.  It’s important to encourage our kids to care for others before themselves, otherwise culture will teach them differently.

3. Don’t try to walk before you can support your head.
Nearly five months has passed since Rae was born.  In the initial few weeks, it was really important to support her head because she couldn’t do it on her own.  Now that she can, we have to put our attention towards the next steps – sitting up,  rolling, crawling, standing, and eventually walking.  It would be crazy to expect Rae to walk before any of these previous steps.  Giving and tithing is a lot like this process, especially if this is a new concept for the family.  No one can expect someone to jump right into it!  We have to grow, step by step, mastering each step along the way.  Set goals, take “baby steps”, and before know it, giving and tithing will be a part of the family’s DNA.

4. Giving doesn’t grow with age, your heart does.
I’ve heard too many parents say, “they’ll figure that out when they’re older…”  Truth be told, with that attitude, the Christian faith won’t even be on their radar when they’re older, let alone giving and tithing.  There is always a way to relate difficult and complex concepts to children in ways they understand.  If you don’t know where to start, ask your child what they think of money and what it’s used for?  You’ll be amazed at their answers!  More than likely, they will describe how you use money.  If we all do our best in learning how to communicate giving and tithing with our kids during their childhood, their heart for giving will continue to grow with age.

So, to answer the question: the best time to teach your child about giving and tithing is right now.  Don’t hide your giving and tithing habits from your children.  Include them in family projects of generosity (ie. helping a neighbour, or sponsoring a child oversees).  Encourage those moments when your kids are looking to give (even if it’s small)!  Set small goals as a family, achieve them, and make giving and tithing a part of the regular family conversation.  Before you know it, the heart of giving and tithing will become stronger than the heart of owning and buying things for yourself!