Talking to Your Kids About Sex, Part 1

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The issue isn’t whether or not it’s going to happen.  The issues are when and where?  Sooner or later your child will learn the details about sexuality.  In this series of articles, I will present some tips for talking with your child about sex in a healthy and Biblical way.

It’s Not Too Early to Start Talking About Sexuality

From a very early age children begin to notice differences between themselves and “mommy” or “daddy” or “brother” or “sister.”  Children wonder why those differences exist.  It’s natural for them to be curious about such things.

Don’t miss the opportunities to share how God divinely made both men and women; that there are differences and that’s the way God made us on purpose.  Obviously, the younger the child is, the shorter and less detailed such conversations will be.

However, it is important to start early with discussing sexual matters – openly, honestly, and using correct terminology.  The earlier you start, the easier more detailed conversations will be as your child grows up and begins asking more questions such as where babies come from, why do people kiss, and why does God care whether I have sex before marriage?

Don’t Wait for the “Big Talk”

I can still remember the “Big Talk” that my father gave to me.  I was almost 12 years old, he was taking me to a baseball game, and we stopped at a Hardee’s for a burger before the game.  It was uncomfortable for me (not to mention how my dad must have felt) in large part because we had never really discussed sexual matters before that moment.  I am sure he felt a combination of surprise and relief to find out that I pretty much knew what I needed to know (at least that’s what we thought at the time – i.e., I knew the basics of sex).

But I would urge you to not wait to have a conversation with your child in a “Big Talk” about the birds and the bees.  (To this day I don’t know why we call that conversation a talk about the birds and the bees).  Instead, children learn information best when given out little chunks at a time, over time.  A steady stream of short conversations and teaching moments serves your child best and ensures that he or she retains information, and, more importantly, allows the correct values regarding sex to penetrate his or her heart.

One of the most effective ways that kids learn is over time, a little at a time.  In fact, the Bible encourages us to teach our children in just such a manner:  “Impress [the laws] on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:7.  In other words, teach your children all of the time, over time, a little at a time.

Most of us would never wait to teach our children about our faith in one “Big Talk”.  We wouldn’t hold back knowledge about God and Jesus until he or she could “fully understand” at age 10 or 11 or even 14.

In addition, I’ve never seen a father wait until his son or daughter was 11 years old and then take them to a baseball field for the first time and teach them in 30 minutes the entire sport of baseball:  how to catch, throw, bat, the rules, scoring, etc.  It would be absurd to think that the child would retain anything, much less learn anything of value.

So, why do we think we should wait to teach about sexuality until our children are “ready to fully understand” and then unload everything they should know about differences between men and women, sex, safe sex, God’s commands regarding sex, etc.?  The answer is that we shouldn’t do that.

Homework:

Make a conscious decision to teach your children about sexuality in a healthy and Biblical manner, over time, a little at a time.

Begin to look for opportunities and teaching moments to have short, deliberate and honest conversations with your child about God’s plan and purpose for sex.

Questions:

If you have questions, please post them here on the blog in the comment section and I’ll try my best to respond to them from a Biblical perspective.

Marriage Matters: Love Geography

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“Love Geography”

note:  These are my sermon “notes” from this Sunday’s message.  (They are notes, I haven’t written this as an article so please excuse the abbreviated words and sentences.  To get the most out of this message, please go to the Adventure Church website and listen to the audio).  You also can read my notes from the first message:  What If I’m Not Married?

If you were going to place your marriage on the “Love Map”, where would it be right now?

The Beach? (honeymoon feeling, a party, everything’s perfect)

On a Mountain Top? (things are going fantastic, we are super blessed, great things are happening to us and our family)

In a Valley? (things are going poorly, something’s wrong, we are arguing often, life is a struggle being married to this person)

In the Grand Canyon? (there is a crisis, someone is having an affair – physically or emotionally, divorce seems like the best option)

On the vast and fertile Plains? (life is good, there is nothing that is dramatically exciting but neither are there any serious problems, day-to-day we are generally content, our children are doing well, we rarely argue and when we do it’s not a knock-down drag-out fight, or, if it is one, we apologize quickly and move on) (note:  most of marriage is going to be in the Plains)

In the Desert? (life was good, but for some reason our relationship is dry and generally lifeless, we are missing nourishment and refreshment, days are hot and difficult, nights are cold and distant)

In the middle of a busy City? (we are very busy, everywhere we turn there is something to do and another responsibility, our kids keep our schedules full and we are running non-stop)

Where are you?  and  Why does it matter?

note:  Marriage is a journey and a destination.  You can probably see your marriage in one of these geographical locations (and can surely remember some times when you were in another location).  Where we are in the journey, and how to navigate the journey matters because:  God presents Himself to us in the marriage relationship (husband to wife, and wife to husband).  He also presents Himself through our marriage to others:  our children, our friends, our church and the world.  Marriage is a means by which we experience God and His grace.

How do we navigate the journey of marriage?  Here are some travel tips:

See the Whole Map

(note: we tend to only see where we are right now and fail to see all that marriage can, and does, bring.  It is important for our marital health and the success of our journey to see the big picture of marriage by seeing the whole map).

It’s not Unusual – remember that where we are is not unusual.  All marriages travel through different locations, and most, at one time or another, will travel through every location.  You are not the first to be in your current situation and you will not be the last.

It’s not Permanent – Your situation won’t last forever.  Circumstances change.  We change.  God changes us and others.

It requires Commitment – Mark 10:9 “What  God has joined together, let man not separate.” – note:  The way to successfully and joyfully navigate the marriage journey is to recognize that you have made a commitment to each other and to God as well.  Commitment is being willing to stay through the difficult times (desert, valley and canyon) even when it’s not enjoyable, in large part because you know that the plains and mountains are there to be experienced.

Recognize Where You Are

It takes Communication

Truth Telling CommunicationEphesians 4:25 “Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.”

Gentle, Non-Advesarial CommunicationEphesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Reflect on How You Got There

note:  good or bad, it’s important for us to notice how we got to where we are.  When we take notice of such things we will see patterns of:  being in the Word (or not), being in community (or not) (especially accountability), serving others (or not).

It takes Examination2 Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?”

It takes ConfessionJames 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”

note:  confession isn’t easy or fun.  but, confession removes the “splinter” from our souls that is festering and hurting (maybe not all of the time, but it keeps showing up).

Pack Correctly

note:  on the journey of marriage, we must “pack” with us the right things.  Here are a few things to make sure we pack:

Patience“Love is patient” note:  it can take a while to get out of a valley or through a desert.  It can take a while to learn how to climb a mountain to the top.

Sacrifice“Love is not self-seeking”  note: your marriage should be about the other person, giving 100% and expecting nothing.  (when we do that, we are all more blessed in the end).

Forgiveness“Love is not easily angered, Love keeps no record of wrongs”  (we forgive even before forgiveness is sought and definitely before forgiveness is earned, if ever.  that’s what Jesus did for us on the cross – He forgave us before we repented!)

Remember the True Destination!

note:  the true destination:  Your marriage is not as much for you as it is for others.  Marriage is meant to be a representation to the world of the relationship that exists between Jesus and His Church.  It is:  unconditional love, sacrificing, forgiving, patient, etc.

Church Matters: Commitment – Buddy’s sermon notes

church matters

Here are my sermon notes for “Church Matters: Commitment” for the message dated February 3, 2013.  The audio isn’t up yet but will be soon by going to the Adventure Church website.

Church Matters: Commitment

What a church should commit to you:

  1. To teach the whole  Bible – Acts 20:27 “For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.”
  2. Leaders who set an example – Philippians 3:17 “Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.”
  3. To care for you and watch out for you – Acts 20:28 “Keep watch over yourselves and all of the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers.  Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”
  4. When necessary, to Biblically exercise church discipline – Matthew 18:15-17
  5. To seek to fulfill God’s will in our community and beyond. – Matthew 28:19-20 “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

What you should commit to the church:

  1. To protect the unity of the church – Romans 14:19 “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
    1. acting in love toward one another
    2. refusing to gossip
    3. following the leaders
  2. To share the responsibility of the church by:
    1. praying for its growth and influence
    2. inviting unchurched people to attend
    3. welcoming those who attend – Romans 15:7 “Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
    4. giving financially – regularly and sacrificially
  3. To support the testimony of the church by – Philippians 1:27 “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.”
    1. attending faithfully
    2. learning God’s Word
    3. living a godly life
  4. To serve the ministry of the church by:
    1. using my gifts and talents – 1 Peter 4:10 “Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
    2. developing a servant’s heart
  5. To support others in the church and myself by:
    1. connecting with others for fellowship, encouragement, support and accountability
    2. allowing the Holy Spirit to transform me

 

Who are you giving to? You might be surprised …

photoAt Adventure Christian Church we are currently teaching a series titled, “Money Matters.”  The point of this series is not about getting people to give more to the church.  The point is for all of us to acknowledge the influence that money has on our lives and to learn to be in control of money rather than to be controlled by it.  It sounds easy enough!  But, the reality is, it’s not.

Today’s post is titled “Who are you giving to? You might be surprised” and is essentially my sermon notes from this past Sunday.  There was a long list included in the message so I thought it could be beneficial to some to post the notes for use later.  I realize this post isn’t as detailed as some others, but remember it’s just my notes.  Listen to the message for the full lesson.

You can listen to the sermon here:  Buddy’s Sermon January 13, 2013.

The Enemy Wants To Deceive You

Mark 12:15 – But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. Why are you trying to trap me? he asked..

1.Money does not equal security

2. Money does not equal satisfaction

Proverbs 15:17 –  Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.

3.  “Your” money is not really yours

Whose “Portrait” are you giving to?

Mark 12:16 – They brought the coin, and he asked them, Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?  Caesars, they replied

1.  What/who are you most disappointed with right now?

2.  Whatsoever you spend your money on?

3.  Where do you spend your time?

4.  What consumes your thoughts?

5.  What are you scared to lose?

6.  Where do you turn/go when you have been hurt?

7.  What brings you the most joy?

8.  Whose applause do you long for?

(note: The list in this section was changed in respects but largely came from a Tim Harlow blog post who said he adapted it from Kyle Idelman’s new book coming out soon.)

You Are Made in God’s Image, So Give Your All to Him

Mark 12:17 – Then Jesus said to them, Give to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is Gods.  And they were amazed at him.

They gave to Caesar because everything was his — the property, the money, the farm, the animals.  They understood that to be true.  God has made us His as well.  Everything we are is His.  So let’s give Him our ALL.

The World Is Going To End …

AMNH --- Maya Stone Calendar

Yes, the world is going to end.  But not on December 21, 2012 just because of some Mayan calendar as many have predicted.  The Bible is clear that it is unclear when the “earth will pass away.”

What the Bible Says About the End

Mark 13:31-37

31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 

32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with an assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch. 35’ Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back–whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ ‘

“The Earth Will Pass Away”

The world as we know it will, at some point, cease to exist.  Jesus is coming back to judge both the living and the dead.  It is the proper order of things for such to happen.  For us, this fact should cause us to ask some questions:  When?  and What should I be doing in the meantime?

“No One” Knows the Time of the End, Including the Mayans

Scripture says that no one knows when the earth will cease except for the Father.  Because it says “no one,” I trust that means me, you, the Mayans, and anyone else foolish enough to make any sort of prediction regarding the exact day of the end of the world.

We can’t know and, in fact, don’t need to know.  The reason that the exact day is not relevant is because knowing or not knowing doesn’t change what we should be doing every day — being prepared as if today is the day of the end.  If we did know the exact day, such knowledge would surely change our behavior for the worse.

Think about it.  Doesn’t knowing that Christmas Day is December 25 change behavior?  All you have to do is to sit in the local Mall on December 24 and watch what happens.  There will be hundreds of people scurrying about buying “last-minute” gifts that “need” to be opened the very next day.  If Christmas Day was December 30, then the Mall would be full of last minute shoppers on December 29 instead.

Call it procrastination.  Blame it on busyness.  Claim that we just want to get all we can out of the shopping time before the end of the shopping season.  Whatever the reasons, the fact remains that we often wait until we HAVE to do something BEFORE we actually do it.  And, I don’t think that anyone would argue against the fact that the Christmas gift bought for someone at 5:45 pm on December 24 under the pressure of a deadline is somewhat of a compromise to one that could have been purchased without the pressure of “I have to get this now or I won’t have anything to give.”

Waiting to do something until we have to do it results in less than the ideal.  It’s true.

What Should We Be Doing in the Meantime?

While waiting for Christ’s return and the “end,” we are to be on “watch.”  Watching is active not passive.  To watch means to be on the look out, to analyze what is happening on the horizon, to prepare ourselves and those for whom we are responsible for what is about to happen.

We often prepare for what we see on the horizon.  We hear a weather report that a storm is coming, so we check our flashlights for batteries, board up windows, and go to the store to buy bread and milk.  We know that we have a test on Friday so we study.  We have a baby on the way so we prepare a room for him.  Preparing for what is inevitable is responsible, and necessary.

So, in this section of the book of Mark, Jesus commands us to be ready for the end.  We should prepare for His return.  Although we won’t know when it is going to happen exactly, at the same time His return should not take us by surprise.  We need to be prepared.

Being prepared for Christ’s return means more than this simple blog post can outline.  But here are just a few things we should be doing in preparation:

  1. Live each day as holy as we can.  Our mindset should not be “oh, I’ll just commit this sin today and ask forgiveness tomorrow.”  No, instead, we should consider that at any moment, including the “right now” moment, Jesus could return.  Before you do something ask yourself:  “Do I want to be doing this if Jesus appears to me right now?”
  2. Introduce people to Jesus today, not tomorrow.  Tomorrow may be too late.  Whether Jesus comes back, or by some unfortunate circumstance that results in death, the person you know who hasn’t given his life to Jesus as Lord and Savior may not have another chance.  Have that conversation today.  You can’t “rely on” another opportunity tomorrow.

Don’t Be Asleep

While there is no reputable proof that the Mayan calendar makes a “doomsday” prediction (see NASA’s website for a video disproving the claim), my prayer over the last month regarding this “event” is that God would use the absurdity of it all to remind us that Jesus is coming back, that the earth is going to pass way, and that we have a responsibility to be prepared when it does happen.  Are you ready or are you asleep?

Discipline Makes the Impossible Possible

This article continues my series on spiritual disciplines titled Why Men Need Discipline.”  Today’s article is called “Discipline Makes the Impossible Possible” and speaks to the continuing development of the Christian into a person who is “perfect”  as our “heavenly Father is perfect.”

Did You Say: “Be Perfect”?

Sometimes I am disturbed by what Scripture says.   An example is contained in Matthew 5:48 where we are commanded to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Really?  Be perfect?  That appears quite impossible.  I know I am not perfect.  Far from it.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am not perfect.  And neither are you.  So, why would God issue this seemingly impossible command to us?  (It is a “command” and not a “suggestion” by the way).

Well, I know that God is perfectly just, meaning that He is perfectly fair to us.  So, I can know that God would not require something of me, or from me, that would be impossible for me to attain.  Therefore, it is only logical that “being perfect” must be possible.  And, more than that, not only must it be possible for me to achieve, it also must be GOOD FOR ME! (see Matthew 7:9-11)

The good news for us is that God doesn’t leave this “possible impossible” task to us to attain on our own.  Quite the contrary.

We are Perfect because of Imputed Righteousness 

The Bible tells us that when we repent of our sin and believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, that God considers us righteous in his sight.  This means that even though we aren’t “really” holy, God chooses on His own to declare us holy.  Essentially, for our benefit, God “pretends” that we are completely righteous because Jesus has “covered” our unrighteousness with his sacrificed blood.  That’s the only way true relationship with a completely holy God can exist – if He chooses not to count our unholiness against us.  It’s imputed righteousness that “gets us into heaven.”

That’s the first way that the “impossible becomes possible” – just because God says so!

We are becoming Perfect because of Imparted Righteousness

It is not so difficult to accept that God can look past our transgressions and determine on His own that we are righteous (i.e., perfect) in His sight.  God is merciful.  God is full of grace.  However, it is hard to accept that we are also being made perfect; that in this life that we can live a perfectly holy and righteous life.  But that’s also what the Bible teaches.

In 2 Peter 1:4, we are told that we are “partakers of the divine nature.”  What that means is that over time, through our circumstances, our choices, God’s leading, and our decisions, that we become more and more holy.  We become more righteous as we are transformed into the likeness of Christ.  Our daily lives here on earth actually change from unholiness to slightly less unholiness to slightly less unholiness and on and on.

This takes training and it takes time.  Spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Bible study, participating in worship, learning self-control, seeking wisdom and patience and goodness and kindness, and allowing love to be evident in our actions slowly (and not so slowly at times) mold us into people who reflect Christ and are permanently changed.  This is referred to as “imparted righteousness” meaning that God is “imparting” (or “giving to us”) righteousness.

This training is not easy.  It takes the discipline of making the right choices daily.  It means sacrificing what we may naturally desire in exchange for what God desires.  It means being obedient to the Word even if we don’t feel like it and even when we don’t fully understand it.  It means learning from failure.  It means conforming our attitudes, our minds, our hearts and our actions to the Word of God and His ways, more and more every day.  It’s imparted righteousness that makes us better disciples and ambassadors for God’s work here on earth.

The Bottom Line

God gives us the ability to “work out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12).  As we “train” ourselves by engaging in spiritual disciplines, regularly and in increasing measure over time, we do just that – we work out the unholiness that wants to control us, and allow God to work in the holiness that He wants to control us.

What’s Next?

Hopefully, you’ve been reviewing the various spiritual disciplines that I outlined previously and have been identifying which of those could use some improvement in your own life.  If not, I suggest that you review them now.

It is now time to make a specific plan of action.  What is your plan for Bible study?  What is your plan for quiet devotion time?  What is your plan for prayer?  Where are you going to serve the Lord this week?  Make a decision to implement these into your life right now in specific, detailed ways.

 

We Always Reflect Something

[ F ] Lucian Freud - Self-portrait in a  hand ...

Lucian Freud – Self-portrait in a hand mirror (1967)

This article continues my series on spiritual disciplines titled “Why Men Need Discipline.”  Today’s article is called “We Always Reflect Something” and addresses a question all Christians should ask themselves:  “Do I always reflect who Christ is?”  Spiritual disciplines help us to be able to answer that question with “YES!”

We Always Reflect Something

How long has it been since you looked at yourself in a mirror?  I mean, really looked at yourself?  I tried it today and was startled.  As I stared at myself I began to see things that I just simply overlook most of the time.  Some of the things I saw were good.  Some were not!  It was those “nots” that I wished were not there.  So, being a man of supreme and extreme logic (chuckle, chuckle), I closed my eyes and “wished” those “nots” were not there.  I opened my eyes and guess what?  They were still there.  I just couldn’t wish away part of my reflection.  It is what it is.

Whether we like it or not, whether we agree to it or not, as we live our lives, as we interact with people, as we make choices and engage in relationships, we always reflect something.  And, that “something” is what is inside of us.  We reflect what is in our hearts.  We reflect what is in our minds.  We reflect what is really important to us.

Sometimes what I reflect isn’t very pretty (and I’m not just talking about my face).  My words can be harsh.  My temperament can be inpatient.  My values can be skewed.  My goals can be selfish and prideful.  None of those things is Christ-like.

If asked, I would never “choose” to reflect such things.  But, unfortunately, at times that’s what people see from me and in me. That’s the thing about reflections — they show what IS, not what we WISH.

“A New Command I Give You”

When you became a Christian, you also became an ambassador for Christ.  The “world” should be able to look at you and see who Christ is.  I am using the word “should” on purpose because ambassadorship is one of things you are committing to when you decide to follow Christ.  One of the ways that God shows Himself to people is through His people — through His disciples.  And, Jesus tells us what the world should see:

 

“A new command I give you:  Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

 

We reflect Christ when we love.  When we love, people see Jesus.

The Bible describes “love” as being patient and kind, as not self-serving, as having a spirit of forgiveness and gentleness, and as doing what is right even when it is difficult to do so.  Love is honoring and protecting our wives.  Love is raising our children to know the Lord.  Love is caring for the widow, the orphan and the disenfranchised.  Love is feeding the hungry, visiting the prisoner, and clothing the naked.  The Bible tells us that “God IS love” (1 John 4:8).

Spiritual Discipline Helps Us Make Christ Visible

Oh, is that all?  All we have to do is just love everybody all of the time?  Obviously, the problem is that none of us naturally is all of those things all of the time.  In fact, it is in our nature to war against such things much of the time.  That’s where spiritual discipline comes in.

Spiritual disciplines help us make Christ’s loving characteristics supreme in our lives.  For example, attending corporate worship reminds us of who is God (God) and who is not (us).  Learning to react appropriately and Godly in situations by controlling our tempers and our speech reminds us that our lives are about more than our immediate desires.  Regularly meeting with other men in Christian fellowship provides opportunities for rebuke and encouragement so that we will stay motivated to do what is right.  Actively and intentionally serving others reminds us that we are to be servants first.

When we regularly and continually engage in those types of spiritual disciplines, as well as others, God uses them to mold our hearts and shape our thoughts.  Our minds and hearts actually start to become more Christ-like as we “train” to be Christians, and soon we begin to “reflect Christ” to the world.

The Bottom Line

Being a Christian is a wonderful gift from God.  It is also an awesome responsibility.  Who we are to the people of this world shows what we really believe and who we really follow.  Our actions and our words reflect what is in our hearts and minds.

What’s Next?

Jesus Christ was the most influential person who ever lived, and is the most influential person living today.  Are you preparing yourself so that you always reflect who He really is?  Or are you just leaving your reflection to chance?

Ask at least three people in your life (if you are married, make one of those of people your wife) to make a list of the qualities you REALLY reflect.  You will have to give them permission to be completely honest and promise them that you will not hold anything they say against them.  Be prepared to be a little hurt because there will be some things on those lists that you probably won’t expect (remember my looking in the mirror) and that will not be very Christ-like.

Once you receive your list, make a plan to engage regularly in at least two more of the spiritual disciplines we previously discussed in What is a Spiritual Discipline, Anyway?  Then watch how God begins to change the things on your lists that are not reflective of who Christ is.