A look back at 2014

IMG_7102

This time a year ago, I did something I don’t normally do. I made a New Year’s resolution. I vowed to write something every week in 2014, and with one exception (the week my son was born), I kept my resolution.

Altogether, I shared more than 80 posts. I also had opportunities to write for the Huffington Post and Onfaith.

As the year kicked off, I was finalizing the manuscript for my first children’s book. A few days before Christmas, I received my first copy of the real thing. My daughter and I have spent several evenings reading it together, and I can’t wait for you to be able to do the same with your kids this spring.

In 2014, I stumbled across a number of new voices (new for me, anyway) who inspired, challenged, and informed me—including Ben Moberg, Cindy Brandt, Qasim Rashid, Rod Thomas, Nurya Love Parish, Boze HerringtonAustin Channing, R.L. Stollar, and David Hayward, to name a few. You have each broadened my perspective and enriched my faith in various ways. Thank you.

Near the end of 2013, I had my first experience of a post going viral. It happened a few more times in 2014, though I’m still not sure there’s a science to it. (Or that “going viral” is always the best indicator of worthwhile content.)

It was an enriching, sometimes challenging year. I had at least one reminder of why I strive to keep my work life separate from my writing life. Speaking up for what matters to me has cost me a friend or two, but it’s given me the chance to make new friends along the way. It’s allowed me to hear—and learn from—new voices.

I also got quite the reading least in 2014 (and yes, I am still working my way through it…more to come in 2015) when I opened up about the distressing absence of female voices on my bookshelf.

Anyway, if you read, shared, liked (or maybe even disliked) something you read here, thank you for being part of the journey.

Here were my 10 most widely-read blog posts from 2014…

1. Why evangelicals should think twice about equating modern Israel with Israel of the Bible

Ancient Israel was not supposed to have a standing army. They weren’t supposed to stockpile weapons. There were no taxes to fund a permanent military. The prophets considered militarization a form of idolatry—a blatant violation of Israel’s covenant with God. If modern Israel is the same covenant nation written about in the Old Testament, then they are under the same covenant obligations. More >

2. Nurturing your kids’ faith when you haven’t figured out your own

I don’t have my own faith figured out. I keep searching, wondering, fumbling in the dark. I used to be more certain in what I believed, but then, you know… life. I know the pressure to be the perfect Christian parent who raises perfect Christian kids who have all the answers, pray the sinner’s prayer as soon as they can talk, and never question anything. More >

3. If you think “standing with Israel” means never criticizing them, you’re going to have to get a new Bible

If “standing with Israel” means never saying anything negative about the Israeli government and berating anyone who does, then we should have nothing but contempt for the biblical prophets. We should cut them out of our Bibles. They should be condemned for treason against Israel. More >

4. The story that made World Vision trend on Twitter

For a while, World Vision was trending on Twitter. Not because of the 70,000 people they helped gain access to clean water that day, but because of outrage over the fact that a cross-denominational Christian humanitarian organization decided it wasn’t its job to police a theological difference among denominations. More >

5. Stop praying for peace in Ferguson

You want “peace” in Ferguson—by which you mean you don’t want to see any more burning cop cars on TV—but you don’t want to do anything about a system in which people have no other way to make themselves heard? Then what you want isn’t peace. What you want is for your privilege to remain untouched. More >

6. My new reading list

That’s the whole point of reading, isn’t it? To step outside your own limited perspective and allow others to shape it, even if you don’t end up fully agreeing with them? How much of our impoverished discourse can be traced to the fact that we tend to hear only the voices that sound like our own? More >

7. Three things in the Bible you’ll want to avoid if following Kirk Cameron’s parenting advice

The ancient Jewish faith had many rituals, ceremonies, and symbols. And these had a way prompting curiosity. Every time a family would celebrate Passover or break out the phylacteries or build a monument from a pile of stones, kids would ask why. Even worse, it seems this was the whole point: so that kids would request an explanation from their parents. More >

8. An alternative prayer for Memorial Day (pacifist edition)

We confess that evil is real and that it lurks within our hearts. We have been quick to condemn the violence of others while ignoring the deeds we have committed with our own hands. We confess that we have put nation above church, flag above cross. We acknowledge that as followers of Christ, we have but one Memorial Day. It is commemorated with bread and wine, not with beers and barbeque. More >

 9. If this is what a Christian nation looks like, then I don’t want to be a Christian

We’re a nation that uses fear as justification for torture. Despite the fact that “perfect love casts out fear.” We’re a nation worried more about whether torture was effective than whether it was moral, as if the objects of torture are somehow less than human. Despite the fact that all humanity bears the divine imprint. More >

10. Where are all the women? What my bookshelf says about the continuing effects of patriarchy

I can flaunt my egalitarian credentials on the interwebs—without even realizing how bad I’ve been at listening to the voices of women. A theoretical opposition to patriarchy doesn’t necessarily mean I’ve stopped perpetuating it. More >

With more than 35,000 shares, the most popular piece I wrote in 2014 (and Onfaith’s second most-read piece for the year) was “Five Bible verses you need to stop misusing.”

Finally, here are some of my personal favorites from 2014…

I hope you have a happy and enriching 2015!

Halfway out of the dark

IMG_4633

Sunrise after the winter solstice

Advent is almost done. Christmas is nearly here.

We’re halfway out of the dark.

The incarnation—God becoming like us—may be the greatest miracle of all. Maybe even greater than someone rising from the dead.

At Christmas, we celebrate the start of something, not the end. We are heading out of the dark. But we are not there yet.

It’s fitting that Advent and Christmas mark the start of a new church year, in contrast to our Gregorian calendar. During Advent, we anticipate not one but two comings, two in-breakings of God’s presence. Christmas is the celebration of one of those comings. Our redemption is not yet complete.

—//—

A few days ago, we turned a corner on the darkness. The morning after the winter solstice, the longest night of the year—and after more than a week without seeing the sun here in Michigan—we were greeted by a brilliant sunrise pouring in through our bedroom window. There are many more long, dark nights to come, but each will be slightly shorter than the one before. We are heading toward the light. Little by little.

As we celebrate Christmas, we remember that we are halfway out of the dark. God’s light has invaded our world, but darkness still prevails all around us (and in us). We only need to look at events of recent months to see this.

A brutal war in Gaza. (Have we already forgotten that one?)

The persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq.

The scourge of racism still very much alive in this country and claiming new victims every day.

And of course, the horrific slaying of two police officers just days before Christmas.

We are not yet out of the dark.

Surely God could have wrapped up everything in one incarnation. Surely all he needed was a quick trip to earth, and everything—sin, death, evil, and oppression—would be sorted.

He could have. But he didn’t.

Maybe there’s a reason he left us in partial darkness.

Maybe it’s because he didn’t mean for us to be passive observers in our redemption, in the renewal of all things. Maybe he’s waiting for us to join him in the sacred work of banishing the darkness.

In my children’s book, I describe redemption as “God making the world right and good again.” It’s one of the paradoxes of our faith that only God can do this work, yet he does not do it on his own. He invites us to become part of it.

Christmas is a reminder that our redemption has begun. But it’s also a reminder that God’s work is unfinished. There is more light to be uncovered, more darkness to be banished. In other words, we have work to do.

In the year ahead, may we all do our part to bring this world (and ourselves) a little more out of the dark. May we all shine a little more light of compassion, justice, and inclusion.

And yes, the title of this post is a nod to the 2010 Doctor Who Christmas special. Embrace your inner Whovian. 

The day my book arrived

IMG_7126

I remember reading The Story of King Jesus to my daughter for the first time, earlier this year. I’d just seen it in layout, and the publisher let me keep the printouts. I couldn’t wait to get home from Colorado to show it to Elizabeth.

I’m not sure if it was a stalling tactic, but that night before bed, she made me read it twice. (I didn’t object.) The second time through, she began repeating bits of the story under her breath.

Afterward, she asked, “When will it be put together?” I thought she was asking some deep spiritual question, as in, “When will the world be put back together?” (One of the recurring themes of my book is how God is making the world right and good again.) She cut me off after a few seconds of fumbling for an answer and said, “No, dad. When will your book be put together?”

Well, at last I have a good answer. Because this came in the mail yesterday…

IMG_7073

I was so excited, I forgot to change her into her PJs before saying goodnight.

IMG_7088

We read the book at bedtime—this time the proper, bound-up version—because I want Elizabeth to know that even though there is much in our world that’s not as it should be, God made it good, and he is making it good once more.

IMG_7102

I want her to know the gospel is more than just what happens to us when we die. It’s about what we do while we’re alive. That Jesus not only defeated death; he made it possible for us to live.

IMG_7109 - Version 2

I want her to know that Jesus is for everyone.

IMG_7122

I want her to know that the gospel is liberating and life-giving. That if something is oppressive and soul-destroying, then it isn’t the gospel. I want her to know that God invites us all to join him in making the world right and good again.

I can already see glimpses from my daughter that the story is beginning to sink in, that it resonates, that it is life-giving for her.

And that is the best Christmas present I could ask for.

The Story of King Jesus is available for preorder now

Why Russell Moore is right: racial injustice IS a gospel issue

gospel-everyone

I worry a bit when we start labeling ever divisive matter a “gospel issue.” Surely not everything rises to this threshold. Surely if you play the “gospel” card too many times—if you argue that “the gospel is at stake” in practically every debate—pretty soon the word loses all meaning. It becomes little more than a rhetorical club for stifling debate, for insinuating that anyone who disagrees with you hates the baby Jesus.

Yet sometimes the gospel IS at stake. The other day, Russell Moore when he called racial injustice a “gospel issue.” And I think he was right.

That was the day we learned that Eric Garner’s killer would not face charges. One of the first responses I saw in my Twitter feed came from Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. It was a transcript of a radio show he recorded moments after the news broke.

His comments are well worth reading:

A government that can choke a man to death on video for selling cigarettes is not a government living up to a biblical definition of justice or any recognizable definition of justice.

What we need to do is to have churches that come together and know one another and are knitted together across these racial lines. I have gotten responses [to this]… that are right out of the White Citizen’s Council material from 1964 in my home state of Mississippi… people saying there is no gospel issue involved in racial reconciliation. Are you kidding me? There is nothing that is clearer in the New Testament [than] that the gospel breaks down the dividing walls that we have between one another.

If [this] is not a gospel issue, then I don’t know what is.

Russell Moore spoke not just for his tribe, but for the whole church. He spoke with prophetic urgency as he rightly declared that racial injustice is indeed a gospel issue.

It’s a gospel issue because the gospel Christ proclaimed is about more than just our personal relationship with God. It’s about our relationship with each other—and with all of creation, for that matter.

It’s the renewal of all things, the reconciliation of all things. The gospel destroys the dividing wall of hostility between people. It creates a new humanity; it knits together a new family where divisions based on ethnicity, caste, or gender are rendered not just obsolete but sinful.

This is what it means to be “in Christ.” You cannot embrace Christ without embracing his mission to remake the world, to destroy all the old barriers of sin and oppression and division.

Some theologians use the term “human flourishing” to describe this mission. Which to me is just another way of saying a world where everyone can breathe.

That’s what Christ’s mission is about. That’s why racial injustice is indeed a gospel issue. To swear allegiance to Christ is to commit yourself to this mission, period. To tolerate injustice, oppression, or exclusion—to turn a deaf ear on the cries emanating from marginalized communities—is to embrace an anti-gospel.

You cannot hate your neighbor and love God, as Dr. Moore eloquently reminded listeners in the wake of the Eric Garner non-indictment. And in case you’re thinking, I don’t hate my neighbor, remember this: the Bible equates apathy with hatred.

—//—

Yet if this is true when Eric Garner has the life choked from his body by a prejudiced and unaccountable police force, it is also be true when a gay teenager is bullied into suicide, whatever our understanding of sexual ethics might be. It is also true when women are relegated to second-class status in our homes and churches. What was it Martin Luther King, Jr. said?

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

In other words, we don’t get to choose which marginalized communities we embrace and which we leave out in the cold. We don’t get to choose which “dividing walls of hostility” to tear down and which ones to leave standing.

Either it’s the reconciliation of all things or not.

Russell Moore is right Racial injustice is a gospel issue. But it’s not the only one we should be concerned about.

Photo by Geraint Rowland on Flickr

If this is what a Christian nation looks like, then I don’t want to be a Christian.

prison-370112_1280

We’re a nation that uses fear as justification for torture.

Despite the fact that, according to scripture, “perfect love casts out fear.”

We’re a nation worried more about whether torture was effective than whether it was moral, as if the objects of torture are somehow less than human.

Despite the fact that all humanity bears the divine imprint. Despite the fact that torturing human flesh is an assault on the image and likeness of God.

We’re a nation that held a mentally impaired man hostage, using him as leverage to extract information from a relative. We’re a nation of secret prisons, in which roughly a quarter of known detainees, perhaps more, were wrongfully held.

Despite the prophets’ condemnation of those who “deny justice to the innocent,” despite their warning that the Lord’s anger would burn hot against such people.

We’re a nation that engaged in simulated hangings, that forced detainees to stand—in their own excrement—for days at a time, and subjected them to a particularly vile technique called “rectal feeding.”

Despite the fact that Paul railed against those who “invent ways of doing evil”—a phrase that comes from a passage we love to quote, confident it was meant for someone else and not us. Which is to miss the whole point of Paul’s rhetoric.

We’re also a nation in which not all the hangings are simulated. We’re a nation that lynched thousands of blacks for “crimes” such as talking to white women. We’re a nation that continues to lynch unarmed black men—only, now we hide it behind a badge instead of a hood. We’re a nation where a black man can have the life choked out of him for allegedly selling cigarettes. We’re a nation where blacks and whites experience two radically different forms of “justice.”

Despite scripture’s declaration that there are no longer any ethnic or social divisions among the faithful—which seems to be more a statement of aspiration than reality.

We’re a nation that threatened to harm the children of detainees, that threatened to rape one detainee’s mother and to slit the throat of another. We’re a nation that told one man he could never be released alive because “we can never let the world know what [we] have done to you.”

Despite Isaiah’s harsh words for those who “go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?’ ” Such people, Isaiah says, are far from God.

Yet God help us if someone doesn’t wish us a Merry Christmas this season. Because we’re a Christian nation, after all.

We twitch with manufactured rage if so much as one underpaid Gap clerk greets us with a “happy holidays” (which is to say, happy holy days, but never mind). We call it the “War on Christmas,” and we allow it to distract us from the very real war being waged on our humanity.

We are the persecutors thinking we’re the persecuted.

We may have managed to keep Christ in Christmas, but we have shut him out from everywhere else. We’ve shut him out of our justice system. We’ve shut him out of our secret prisons. We’ve shut him out of the immigration debate.

It’s funny how we insist on being a Christian nation, yet we are so quick to dismiss the teachings of Christ as irrelevant or impractical when it comes to the “war on terror,” the torture debate, or other issues that are fundamental to human dignity. But we will not rest until our annual orgy of consumerism is baptized in religious garb.

If this is what it means to be a Christian nation, then I want no part of it.

Tamir Rice and the rationalization of systemic racism

tamir-rice-326e772c09b920c4

He should’ve just gotten on the sidewalk.

He shouldn’t have resisted.

He shouldn’t have been playing with a fake gun.

These are the excuses we use to rationalize the murder of unarmed black males by those sworn to protect. They’re the excuses we use to deny the systemic racism that pervades our society—a society where black teens are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than whites, a society where blacks receive longer prison sentences than whites for the SAME CRIMES (HT Qasim Rashid), a society where you can’t even get a grand jury indictment in a death the medical examiner ruled a homicide.

The double standard is breathtaking.

Like Tamir Rice, gunned down by police for playing with a fake gun. The police cruiser that came careening up to him (honestly, how would you have reacted?) barely came to a stop when Officer Timothy Loehmann opened fire, killing the 12 year-old boy.

As I watched the footage of Tamir’s murder (let’s call it what it is, shall we?), all I could think was, I played with fake guns as a kid. And I never had to fear for my life.

Of course I didn’t.

No police vehicles ever came charging at me, cops barreling out the door with guns blazing.

None of my neighbors ever entertained the possibility that the toy gun in my hands was anything but a toy.

None of them mistook me for a grown man, either. The police officer who killed Tamir Rice reported that he was 20 years old. (He was 12.) It’s a well-established fact that police officers routinely mistake black boys as older than they really are (HT Kristen Howerton). Because that’s what happens in a society that tolerates pervasive bias against blacks, mostly by pretending it doesn’t exist.

I never had to worry about someone mistaking my toy gun for a real one because I was a white kid living in a white neighborhood. White privilege meant my friends and I could brandish our toy guns (some of which looked real enough) in public without fear of being shot dead.

White privilege also means white gun lovers can brandish their weapons on streets and in restaurants, they can harass anyone who questions their right to do so, they can even plan marches through predominantly black neighborhoods—all without so much as a raised eyebrow from police. Some even laud these open carry zealots as heroes.

marine-texas

If you’re a black kid playing with a fake gun, it’s a capital offense. If you’re a white guy brandishing a loaded semiautomatic in public, it’s your constitutional right.

Do you still want to argue that systemic racism is a thing of the past?

It’s time we see the double standard for what it is. It’s time we acknowledge that racism doesn’t always wear a hood. Sometimes it comes dressed in a suit, to paraphrase Duke University sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. It’s time that those of us who are white realize that we benefit from an unjust system—one in which police can kill unarmed black males with impunity. And so long as we say and do nothing about it, we’re guilty of perpetuating that system.

Photos: Cleveland.com, Mother Jones

Stop praying for peace in Ferguson

141125001629-38-ferguson-reaction-1124-horizontal-gallery

I’m done praying for peace in Ferguson. I can’t bring myself to do it.

Not when the word “peace,” spoken by those of us clinging to unearned privilege, means peace for us and our kind.

Not when peace means black citizens have to respond to yet another failure of the justice system in ways the powerful deem to be “socially acceptable”—while it’s somehow OK for the enforcers of that system to come at them with tear gas and tanks and military-grade assault weapons.

Not when peace means a return to the status quo, a resumption of normalcy—that is, privilege for us and discrimination for them.

Not if what peace really means is that I don’t have to face the implications of my privilege or the pervasive reality of systemic racism. Peace, as many have noted, requires so much more than the absence of conflict.

You want “peace” in Ferguson—by which you mean you don’t want to see any more burning cop cars on TV—but you don’t want to do anything about a system in which people have no other way to make themselves heard?

Then what you want isn’t peace. What you want is for your privilege to remain untouched.

When the privileged pray for peace—if it’s not accompanied by a commitment to justice, a willingness to lay down our privilege—then what we’re really saying is we’re OK living in a world where white mass murderers can be apprehended alive, yet unarmed black teens pose such a threat that they must be shot dead on the spot.

What we’re saying is we’re OK living in a world where black male teens are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than white teenagers.

We’re saying it’s OK that blacks in Ferguson are disproportionately targeted by police—in 92% of searches and 86% of car stops—even though whites are found carrying illegal contraband far more often than blacks.

This is not peace.

As one pastor observed, it’s like trying to have the benefits of resurrection without crucifixion. Peace without justice. Reconciliation without owning up to the sin of oppression. Harmony without relinquishing any of our privilege.

It cannot be done.

Peace does not come cheap. As you watch the scene unfold in Ferguson, as you mourn (I hope) with those who mourn, do not pray for peace. Not until you’re ready to come to grips with what actually’s required for there to be peace.

Image source

The effects of spanking kids (infographic)

psychology-spanking

Recently I came across the infographic at the end of this post, after sharing why my wife and I choose not spank our children.

I was a little surprised at how prevalent pro-spanking attitudes still are. Yes, Christians (78%) are more likely to think that kids need a good spanking, as are Republicans (80%), those who live in the South (78%), and those with less education 78%). But solid majorities of non-Christians (66%), Democrats (65%), Northerners (63%), and the college-educated (67%) agree with them. In fact, majorities in all but one group (Asians/Pacific Islanders) approved of corporal punishment.

But here’s the one that stopped me in my tracks: 1 in 6 kids are spanked before their first birthday. 

I’m on my second tour of duty as the parent of an infant. I know they can be frustrating. Especially when it’s three in the morning and they JUST. WON’T. SLEEP. But there is nothing—NOTHING—that justifies striking an infant. They’re not even capable of doing anything to deserve punishment. The parts of the brain that govern emotions, relationships, and thought have yet to fully develop.

I’d venture to say at least some of these infant spankings are because the parents were taught their kids are tainted with original sin from the moment of conception. I remember years ago when a VERY reformed colleague of mine brought his newborn daughter to the office, expressing his astonishment that such a beautiful creature could be so utterly depraved, as he put it. Well, if it’s hard to believe, there might be a reason for that. Yes, I believe in sin and its universal effects. But if your theology leads you to hit an infant, you have a pretty terrible theology.

Besides, the Bible implicitly acknowledges that kids of a certain age aren’t yet capable of doing anything bad. (And there are other reasons to revisit our understanding of original sin, as Peter Enns argues.)

Back to the infographic… it also highlights some of the adverse effects of spanking. To me, the evidence is overwhelming that the negative long-term impacts of spanking—higher rates of antisocial and aggressive behavior, poorer mental health, MUCH higher risk of abuse, etc—far outweigh any positive short-term outcome. (In fact, temporary compliance seems to be the only “positive” outcome of spanking.) To those who support spanking in certain cases, what do you make of these findings? Do they cause you to rethink anything, or do you believe there are other factors not considered here?

Oh, and I did wonder about the site behind this infographic. It appears to be a website for researching online psychology degrees. But the content seems to hold up to scrutiny; and, importantly, they cite their sources at the bottom.

Psychology of Spanking
Source: Online-Psychology-Degrees.org/

God made light

IMG_3257

This summer was my daughter’s first Vacation Bible School. VBS is a more elaborate production than it used to be, so naturally it comes with an official soundtrack and everything.

The CD has been in rotation in our car ever since. Thankfully, it’s pretty good. The songs are a mix of originals, a couple jazzed up hymns, and a few modern worship tunes. They’re actually kind of catchy.

Most of the songs are about God’s love. I am all for my daughter singing about that. And she does, because she knows every word by heart.

However, there’s one song—or more precisely, one line of one song—that made us pause, quite literally. The Hillsong anthem “Forever Reign,” which opens with these lyrics:

You are good, you are good
When there’s nothing good in me

I didn’t even notice the words till I heard them in my daughter’s voice.

There was something jarring about hearing my 4-year-old sing, “There is nothing good in me.”

So my wife and I started skipping to the next track when “Forever Reign” would come on. Our daughter noticed and asked us why. We told her we didn’t think it was right to say there’s nothing good in us—that even though we all do bad things sometimes, God made us good.

The message seemed to sink in. Now it’s gotten to the point where, if we forget to skip the track, Elizabeth shouts a reminder from the backseat, followed by a lecture on how God made us good.

There are plenty of voices in our culture telling children—girls especially—that they are no good, that they are worthless, useless, of no value. Christian culture shouldn’t be one of them.

It’s not that I don’t believe in sin. I believe every one of us is affected by sin. I believe that in varying ways and to varying degrees, we are both victims of and participants in the brokenness of our world.

But this is not where our story begins. It begins in Genesis 1, not Genesis 3. It begins in a garden, not in a wasteland. It begins with God so taken by the goodness of creation that he cannot stop singing about it.

“It is good.”

“It is very good.”

God’s light permeates everything and everyone. No amount of evil can fully eradicate goodness from creation. No amount of darkness can fully shut out the light.

No matter what else may be true about us, God made us good.

Which is where my friend Matthew Paul Turner’s new children’s book comes in.

God Made Light is my new favorite answer to religion that says, “There is nothing good in you.” This book recaptures the magic and wonder of creation—something all too often lost in our theologizing about sin and our debates about origins. Matthew writes near the beginning:

In flickers and flashes,
in spills and in splashes,
shine began shining across
nothing but blackness.

Light glared and glimmered.
It flared and sparkled.
And wherever light shined,
dark stopped being dark.

Both the story and the vivid art by Matthew Paul Mewhorter connect the light of creation to the light that lives in each of us:

IMG_4089When God said, “Light!”
the universe lit up,
a dazzling display
of big shiny stuff.

And all that light,
every bright golden hue—
did you know that God put that
same light inside you?

God Made Light was rejected by 11 different publishers, so Matthew decided to publish it himself. In its first week, it broke into the top 200 bestsellers on Amazon. (Sometimes, the good guys DO win.)

The other night, I read God Made Light to my daughter for the first time. She chose it again for bedtime the following night. (Matthew, in case you were wondering whether you were capable of writing the kind of book about God that kids would want to read again and again…)

Elizabeth's first choice of bedtime book, two nights running

Elizabeth’s first choice of bedtime book, two nights running. (And yes, she’s wearing a cape.)

There are three or four places in the book that talk about God’s light shining inside us. Every time Elizabeth and I get to one of those pages, the expression on her face changes. Her eyes light up (pun intended, sorry). She puts her hands over her heart, as if feeling the warmth of light inside her.

My daughter knows it’s not true when others sing, “There is nothing good in me.” She knows she’s not perfect; but she knows that God made her good, that his light hasn’t stopped shining, and that she radiates that light simply by existing.

Every child needs to hear this. God Made Light should be required bedtime reading.

(Yes, she’s also wearing a monkey towel on her head.)

 Note: Matthew was kind enough to send me a copy of God Made Light, for which I’m very grateful. I can already tell this is going to be one of those books that stays with my daughter for years to come.