A Christmas letter to my 14 year old son

Here’s a letter I wrote to my son this Christmas:

Christmas 2010

Dear Son,

This is a letter that attempts to explain some of your Christmas presents this year. I will try not to make it too long. I will be writing separately to each of your siblings, but this letter is especially for you.

I love you very much and I am extremely proud to be your Dad. I still vividly remember the day of your birth. You will only comprehend what I felt, should God in His grace give you children of your own. I pray that you will experience this same joy. When I saw you for the first time, it was the proudest moment of my life. I have since had the joy of seeing 3 other children born into this world and with each one, the same overwhelming emotion filled my heart.

One of the things about life is that with great privilege comes great responsibility, and because it is an amazing privilege to be a father, with it comes the responsibility of being a good one. The Bible tells parents, especially fathers, to bring their children up in the ways of God. There is a passage in Ephesians 6 and it says, “1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”

Did you see that last line? Fathers are to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. It confirms what Deuteronomy tells fathers. They are to speak of God’s word with their children, every chance they can get.

Deut 6: 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

God makes it clear that He never wants His truth to be lost, but passed on from one generation to the next, and the main way that is to happen is through the father teaching his children.

Several months ago, I felt the Lord make it clear to me that I had to put some resources in your hand. I had a mental picture which was sobering. In my mind, I imagined I was dead and gone (don’t worry, if the Lord is gracious to me, I am going to be around for a long time and be around to see you graduate High School, and enter the adult world, succeeding in all you put your hand to.. but this is an illustration, you understand)… and you were left to face the rest of your time on earth without a Dad. That’s a hard thing to even contemplate. My own father lived to be nearly 90 years of age, and I hope that should the Lord not return to earth in His Second coming before hand, I will be around for many years. Anyway, in this imaginary scenario I asked myself, what are the most important things I would want you to know (in your heart and mind) and be (in terms of character)? Then I asked, what resources could I put in your hands that would point you in the right direction? The answers to these questions are now found in the gifts I now give you this Christmas.

Over the last 4 – 6 months, I have put together some resources that I want you to have.

I think I know what you might be thinking right now – these things are probably not on top of your wish list for Christmas, (they may not look as exciting as other gifts) but they will do you a lot more good than anything else I could give you. I really believe that. I think they are very important things.. maybe not what you most want, but perhaps what you most need.

You already have a good study Bible. The Reformation Study Bible is an excellent resource, combining great accuracy of translation along with the best scholarship available as guidelines in the helpful notes. A good Bible is the most important possession you have. It is the most important book you will ever read. It is God’s book. My hope is that you will read it for yourself and love that book, not because your Dad is standing over you, asking you to read it, but because God puts a desire in your heart to know Him and His word. That would be such a joy to me.

Then, next, there is a DVD series called Systematic Theology. That may be a new phrase to you but Systematic Theology seeks to declare what the whole Bible teaches about any given topic. It is an expensive series, but I wanted you to have it so much and am delighted that now this is the case. It is a 60 message series by one of your favorite teachers, R.C. Sproul. If this resource was available years ago, I know my Dad would have wanted me to have it. But the series was not yet made when I was a kid, but it is now. Its my gift to you son. I hope you will go through it and not just one time. The more you know and understand God’s word, the better you will know God’s gospel, know His ways, and the better you will be prepared for all the challenges of life. I hope to be around so that we can go through this series together, but if not, at least you now have it for yourself.

There is also a CD series called “Meaning for Men.” There are many things I want to teach you that God has shown me, but if I could put only one series in your hands about what it means to be a true man of God, this would be it. I hope you will not only hear these series, but that the character truths found here would be true of you.

OK, I said I hoped this letter would not be long, so I will bring this to a close. There are other things I am putting in your hands. Each one has its own purpose. There are things about God and truths He has graciously revealed I want you to know. Whatever series you find here, know they are important.

I love you son and wanted to give you something special. Believe me, the things here are very special. Its been something of a sacrifice to put them in your hands, but I am so happy to have been able to do this.

They may not make a lot of noise or jump around on the shelf saying “read me” or “play me” like other Christmas gifts, but, I hope, one day, you realize something – these may be the best ever gifts I ever gave you. Keep them safe. Keep them near you. Don’t just let them collect dust on your shelf. Use them. Make time for them. They will not shout at you for attention, but if you are wise, you will make time for them on your pathway to manhood.

You and I have already spent a lot of time talking and studying the things of God. In some ways, much of what I have written here will not be new to you. You know of my desire to teach you the things of God and have experienced it first hand. I hope to be around to answer the questions you have (at least the ones I know the answer to) and for us to talk together any time and pray together often and especially about anything that concerns you. Yet this Christmas, I also wanted to put in your hands some things of high value that can point you towards the Lord and His will for your life.

My responsibility by no means ends as I give you these gifts at Christmas. However, I feel confident that these resources go a long way to help you know the way forward.

I trust God’s Sovereign hand to bless and to keep you, and to grow you into all He desires, as a man after God’s heart, a true man of God.

With very much love,


One thought on “A Christmas letter to my 14 year old son

  1. What awesome gifts! John’s children are truly blessed to have such a dad. It’s my prayer that many, many parents will read this and be inspired to follow suit in obedience to God’s instruction to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, ESV).

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