7 Things I Want To Teach My Kids About Spirituality

Image7 Things I want to teach my kids about Spirituality.

Often I think, the last thing the Internet and blogosphere need is another list. There are always special cases where the words and insights bring us into alignment. Today was my birthday and I received a few emails reminding me to reflect. Well I did, and as always a little too much but I though about my life and what I wanted to share with my kids. Something bigger than morals, something larger than words and books. I want to be able to share with them something that can not be captured in a doctrine but explodes with relevancy.

7. Sex
Sex is one of the most spiritual acts that you can participate in. You are valuable, treasured, and you do not need a purity ring or a “true love waits” commitment card to find value within yourself and your sexuality. Since the days when I was a child growing up, all I can remember being taught about sex was that bad things happen when someone has sex. I wasn’t taught that sex and my sexuality was something to be valued and treasured.

I remember reading a book called “Kissing Dating Goodbye” from a guy who I couldn’t for the life of me understand why he couldn’t have any girl he wanted.  Being taught about not dating from a handsome guy is like being taught about poverty from a rich man.

6.  Love
Oh I know this one was predictable, but the word Love is used over 500 times in the English Bible. The Qur’an uses the word Love almost 70 times. Whether it is the Greeks Agape or the Middle Easts Hubb or even the French’s Amour, we are encaptured by the need to be loved and give love.

Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Life without love is no life at all.”
Shakespeare Pleaded that we, “Love all…”
Jesus said, “Let me give you a new command: Love” The Message

Despite our many obvious and veiled differences, we all have the same passion for love in our lives. A baby reaches out with love to a mother it only unconsciously knows. We open a book in search of love. Music, speaking, plays, etc all bring feelings of love. Love, I think is the one thing that is beyond our verbal boundaries of expression.

We must take this Biblical love literally or we cannot take anything literally.

5. Paths
There may indeed be one answer, one way, and one God but one piece of wisdom I’ve gained is that God may use many different paths, methods, and ways to bring people to himself.
But Paths are tricky. See paths can have obstacles and unseen hindrances. And no matter what path you take, you will undoubtedly face turmoil and pain on each path.
My hope for my children, and all those reading this is that while on these many different paths you travel, you exercise patience, grace and love.

4. God is Good
Throughout Churches,I’ve heard one consistent phrase since I was young, and this phrase wasn’t hindered by denominational factions. Southern Baptist though episcopal-all the way through the progressive, I heard the Phrase, “God is Good, and all the time God is Good.” I love this phrase probably for different reasons than many. I believe it’s meant as an exclamation of God’s goodness towards our lives. I want to teach my kids that above all else, “God is Good.” He is goodness, good things,and good hopes. In every bit of goodness is an opportunity to experience God.

It is not just a phrase to say, but something to experience everyday.

3.  Heaven and Hell
Hear me out on this one. I know we are treading some thin lines. But for my kids, I want them to know that one thing the Bible teaches consistently throughout its covers is this concept of a Heaven and a Hell. Definitions, locations, and interpretations can cloud what I think is the real beauty of the reality of a Heaven and Hell idea for Christians and non-Christians alike. (I am using the words Heaven and Hell loosely since few times are they mentioned in the same manner and objective in the scriptures. I am using the modern words as a pointer to a bigger but mainstream concept that we have of Heaven and Hell.)

The reality of Heaven and Hell brings to the surface the intense revelation that this moment – this life is about more than just this moment. It’s about more than just this life.

Life, it is more than just you. It gives us the revolutionary realization that this moment is more important than we might think because it can affect myself or someone else down the road. My struggles can be my generational burden.

Whether or not our beliefs and doctrines of Heaven and Hell match,  the literary descriptions, or are even all on the same page, we can find a muse to be more conscious of our actions and deeds. If we live with heaven in mind, we’ll see heaven in our sight.

The notion of Heaven and Hell is somewhat of a reminder for everyone that this day, no matter how bad it may be, has an ending. That in every moment there is a choice to be made; to do good or not.
2.  God Loves Religion
Religion often gets a bad rap, sometimes understandably so. The news is often so crowded with the stories of abuse and harm that we don’t get to hear the good being done in the names of many god’s spiritual leaders and religions. I am a believer that God loves religion. The Bible gives us a clear statement on what kind of religion pleases God.

James 1:27 Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

I think that we can misinterpret what God wants us to be zealous about. It’s not a book, persona, or building. It is people.

In our day of equal rights, mentoring, and giving we can all agree this is the type of religion we need to be focused on. If religion is to be, than it should be an example of charity and assistance. This should be the focus of everyday expressions of God and belief.

Religion is what we would call a tool that assists in connecting us with what we cannot explain. As with anything religion can be perverted. But if you are religious about anything, be religious about serving and loving.

1. Miracles

I spent the past two years visiting over 200 churches while working on a new book and a journey of what I called My Spiritual Re-discovery. In the majority of the churches they spoke about miracles being an essential part of the Life of Jesus. I agree. I think often the biggest miracles of Christ went under shadowed by the more talked about happenings.

This is something I’ve always agreed with. However, my view of a miracle is a little different than what I’ve seen in many churches.

In the Biblical book of Luke, we get a clear description from Jesus himself as to why he was here and what he was focusing on.

“…to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed” – Jesus

Jesus had a different view of miracles than I see in many churches today. He repeatedly told the people, “See that no one knows about this.” Matthew 9:31

What if the real miracles were the forgotten teens Jesus mentored whom we now call disciples? What if the real miracles were the times he served and gave of himself?

I believe Miracles should be a daily part of this life journey we are on. It’s not necessarily a blind man being given sight or the dead being raised. Often times it will be needs being met, service being offered, and assistance with burdens.

You can be someone’s miracle today.

What makes the Bible special is that it isn’t a record of God, because God cannot be contained between two covers and some ink. What ultimately makes the Bible special is that it has the ability to tell the story of the reader, and is as unique to each person as the hair on their head.

What I am saying is, instead of us often taking what the Bible says seriously, we should take what it’s saying to each one of us seriously.

Resurrection

Jesus Empty tomb

Death is the one time we see Jesus angry in one situation and tearful in another. Death for all even God is a powerful occurrence.

He responded to one of his disciples, “Let the dead bury themselves…” (Matt 8:22) when a young follower needed to go to a family funeral, Jesus was angry because other business had to be taken care of at that moment.

In another incident Jesus was approached by two sisters who had a history with him; Mary and Martha. Their brother Lazarus was lying dead in a tomb and they needed the help of Jesus. (John 11)

A pause follows, and then we read that Jesus wept, simply and shortly said, but powerfully visual (John 11:35) this thing called death even brought Jesus to tears.

When I hear that vibrant “come forth” for Lazarus to rise out of that tomb from the lips of a trembling Jesus, I personally hear, come forth dead dreams, dead hopes. Maybe Jesus was trying to hint at something bigger than just physical death. He being God would have been familiar with death and departure.

I am defined by what I overcome.

Jesus taught that we, yes you, and even me, we can overcome this death. Because I’ve died, I’ve woken up and I’ve felt so dead some mornings and with some unexpected blessing Life comes out of nowhere.

This week we have heard much about death and even Jesus resurrecting. Often in my teaching I quote Paul in his principle of an often spiritual and physical meaning in many things. Many of the acts of Jesus are not unavoidable instances but certain solid statements. The cross was a statement. The resurrection was a statement for each and everyone of us. The resurrection was not about death is was about Life.

I can go on all day about life because I’ve experienced death, death is not who I am, I have overcome death, and I am overcoming death every day.

Death cannot stop you, depression cannot stop you. Life is promised to you.

In the Christian life we will view death as less of an unexpected occurrence and more of an opportunity for Life.

Death is an opportunity for God to bring back things that have died and bring life again.

Those unfinished classes.

That business.

That record.

That book.

I’m sure you’ve had some dead things in your life and maybe still have some dead things. But today is a reminder that dead is no longer the end. Jesus proved to us that death does not have the last word. Go and experience life this week.

Direction

Direction is an odd thing. The direction of a situation offers a completely different perspective of a situation.

Chaos and disorder can be on one side of the street. However, across the street can be an entirely dissimilar view of an exactly identical and hectic situation. It’s not a new situation but a new perspective.

I came to this reality in a very personal way while sitting in a group at the home of a friend. Around the circle, we begin discussing dates that meant something personal or special to us. Myself and another in the group had the same date. This date to me offered acceptance and hope; it was a day of love. For him it offered a completely different view, the day was occupied with destruction and heartbreak.

That instance to me was an eye opening moment; I had not previously thought of how two people in similar parts of town could experience two completely different days on the same day.

In one moment Peter a disciple of Jesus hears a voice calling out his name. Water shoving its way into his mouth, rain hitting his head so fierce that he thinks he just might not make it through. Faintly his ears are overcome by the sound of hope calling out his name from inside the boat.

We’ve played over this scenario many times in Christendom; the picture is carved onto Bibles and painted by some of the greatest artist. Some of the greatest sermons and literary works were carved in Christian History by men of God searching into the heart of this passage.

We are always caught into this moment with Peter as he fell into the water fearing for his life, calling out the name of one of his best friends, Jesus.

I know what you’re thinking. This story seems oddly familiar. However despite the over-publicized doubt of Peter I honestly believe that we all have faced this moment; a moment of uncertainty, a moment of doubt or a time when the storm was more powerful than you anticipated.

I think it’s important to note the whereabouts of Jesus during Peter’s life crisis. Jesus is with him. Jesus is in the midst of this storm. The savior is on the water, in a place of exposure and vulnerability. He is there in our mess, in the middle of our storm. His Glory is intercepting our humanity, writing on our heart, “here lies Jesus.”

We can have these moments to experience God’s Glory during these good and amazing moments, but we can also experience God’s Glory on a boat in the middle of a storm. The beautiful revelation we gain is that God is still in the midst of the storm with us.

Is there a better story?

This is incredible. It’s life-changing. It’s mind-boggling. He is right, there; no matter what direction, no matter what perspective.
**An Expert from the upcoming book, Barefoot Christianity

The leading Father (A Fathers Day Post)

The leading father

Since my early days in church I’ve often been told I had to relate to God as a father. I just couldn’t…

See, I never knew my father, he caused my mother horrible pain and left our family to fend for itself excelling us into a deeper poverty and depression.

Amongst all of this constant struggle just for daily food and hoping for shelter in the coming months as bills piled up, in church I was told to pray to God, my ABBA father.

That word ABBA was foreign to me. Not in the sense of the definition, I just didn’t know what it looked like in human form. In my mind I didn’t see much of a difference between God and a deadbeat father.

Over the past decade my thoughts have changed. Now I want to share with you some insight about real fathers. I hate to disappoint you but this blog won’t be specifically tied to God being our father, I think he has a message for you today.

One of the Hebraic words for Father is אמן and is pronounced ‘aman.

The definition beautifully brings to mind the prefect expression of what a father is and can be.

The definition for the Hebrew word for father is one who offers his right hand.

This word father here is more than a person who works, provides and loves. This word father is about a person who seeks to lead, guide and walk with you.

I’ve never had a father. But I have been very blessed in my childhood to have many men and women come into my life to lead me and take my hand while on this spiritual journey and this life journey.

My hope on this day when we celebrate fathers we include those mentors, spiritual fathers and all who have had a hand in leading someone.

I am convinced that God loves puns when reading the Bible, and this Hebrew word used for father is ‘aman…or as our English eyes might see it, A Man. A man is someone who leads. A man is an example. A man is a guide.

Happy Fathers day to all the fathers

This Beautiful Place

We all have reasons to give up, life tends to seem unbearable at times. Purpose and fulfillment have those moments where they seem scarcely unattainable. We all have those moments when we just want to walk away from everything. Jesus is our prime example and on occasions we see him walking away from his current place to “run off” to focus on another thing. If Jesus who has moments where he says, “let this go on without me,” we surely can expect to feel the same way.

We live in a world where we are encouraged to partake in meaningless activities, download pointless apps and take part in conversation that is headed nowhere, so our mind gets swayed from making a lasting impact on the world. We tend to get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and we forget that there is meaning to this all.

The thing I find fascinating about the Bible is its ability to speak to a person very specifically through an event that isn’t a mass miracle, or a something that impacts the entire world, but it’s message is about a life changing moment with one person encountering God in a unique and distinct way.

Peter and John are walking up to King Herod’s Temple, they came up near the eastern gate and saw a man, in the dirt sitting, begging for alms (Acts 3). This Man who is a beggar, homeless, abandoned, thought less of, and just beaten down by life, but his destiny in God was to sit at this Gate called beautiful?

Have you ever felt like your current situation is nowhere near what God has called you to live in, but still you’re in the right place? You’re in an ugly circumstance, but a beautiful destiny is approaching.

The word beautiful used there in the Greek is ho-rah’-yos, it means something becoming beautiful, belonging to the right moment and flourishing, scholars tell us it alludes to the growth of a flower.

This man sat at this destination for years, I can empathize with the way he must have felt; he must have felt like walking away, or even ending it all, he was probably spit on, cursed at and treated like the dirt he sat on. No one knew this man, they knew him as the beggar, the lame man. Have you ever been categorized by your faults or shortcomings? Are you the druggie, the girl who had the baby too early, the dropout…

I can hear the irony in this when this man would cry out to God and say, “God take me to a beautiful place, this can’t be where you want me.” And God says, “ No, this is right where I want you.”

In my book The Simplicity of Your Destiny I end this chapter by saying, “Don’t ever forget you are beautiful, although your life, your past and your present situation may be ugly. You are beautiful, you are on beautiful ground. Every crack and crevice of life has beauty to baste in its wisdom. Lets explore the beauty of this life together.”