Q: It seems like every time we turn around, there's another report of a mass shooting. Do you have any thoughts on why this is happening and, more importantly, what to do about it?
Jim: Tragedies of this sort are usually the result of multiple concurring factors, of course. From moral depravity and racial or religious prejudice, to mental illness and family dysfunction, shooters -- sadly -- come in all shapes and sizes. Law enforcement officials and psychologists spend years and millions of dollars analyzing and attempting to identify the warning signs. That they fail to identify killers before they kill is not, ultimately, a sign of professional failure, but rather a symptom of a sin-filled world that fails to recognize the sacred value of human life.
For years now, we've been told that it's secularism, a freedom from that "old-time religion," that will truly liberate us. I believe the reality is quite the opposite. True freedom is not found in the absence of all restraints, but instead by living within the parameters of the natural law. For me, as a follower of Jesus Christ, this means embracing and adhering to the precepts of the Bible.
Certainly, the United States is a pluralistic nation. Our first freedom is the freedom of conscience and religion, a right protected and enshrined by the Constitution. Our Founding Fathers wanted no state religion and no spiritual litmus test, but they also didn't want government to be hostile toward people of faith.
I'm the president of one of the world's largest family-help organizations. We hear every single day from parents desperately seeking advice on how to raise their children and how to keep them safe in an increasingly unsafe and unpredictable world. Our response to the present-day darkness is to encourage young and old alike to transform the culture by shining the light of their faith in the world. In my view, the only answer is the one that points to Someone beyond this world.
Q: We've made a family resolution for this year to be more intentional about doing things together that will strengthen our relational bonds. But I'm realizing that's easier said than done; it's tough to find time for it with so much going on. Do you have any suggestions or advice?
Greg Smalley, Vice President, Family Ministries: Strong families are built on a foundation of love, which doesn't simply happen. Love takes work -- especially when the details of the day-to-day grind seem to crowd out everything else and leave you drained of energy and low on time.
When schedules are jammed with activities, it's easy to lose sight of life's little pleasures. But if you make the effort to notice those pleasures, dwell on them and bring them into focus, you'll find that you've already taken a huge step in the direction of cementing meaningful, lifelong relationships with your loved ones.
It's easy to forget that one of the most valuable investments a parent can make is the gift of time. Schedule one-on-one times with each of your children and consider these "dates" as important as any other commitment on your calendar. Take the kids along when you're running errands, making a point to talk about what they find interesting. If possible and appropriate, bring them to work with you occasionally to show them how you spend your days. And if resources allow, block out time to plan significant family vacations -- or "staycations" -- involving the whole household.
Finally, don't underestimate the power of the written word -- especially hard copies versus electronic communication. Even short hand-written notes and letters, particularly those marking special milestones, can (and often do) become treasured keepsakes.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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