Talking to your children about sex: Part 2

“The Sex Talk” has morphed into many talks and at an earlier age in our home. Talking about sex seems to come much earlier for my children than it came in my experience growing up. I was in junior high before I understood what homosexuality is, and I had barely discovered the differences between sexes. Now, I talk to my children often about sexuality and what they hear from friends, what they might overhear on television or see on billboards, etc.

Stan and Brenna Jones have written a must-have series on God’s Design for Sex that is divided into Book 1 for ages three to five, Book 2 for five to eight, Book 3 for eight to eleven, and Book 4 for eleven to fourteen. Each book ramps up the story of our sexuality and God’s design with increasing detail and explanation. Jill and I have used the four-part book series as a resource for our kids to talk to them about sexuality, and we keep it on the shelf where they know where to find it. We started this when our children were ages 6, 9, 12, and they are now seven years older (14, 17, 19). The book has helped us talk about sex as God’s idea and ways to live with a healthy sexual outlook and practices.

When they were 6, 9, and 12 we read the first two books to all our children and made Books 3 and 4 available to our twelve-year-old to read on her own. Then as the others were the age range of the third and fourth books, we gave them access to these books as well.

When you talk or read on the subject of sex, you can expect giggles, smiles, rolling eyes, and hidden faces behind throw pillows, but they really do wonder and want to know about sexuality at certain ages. The books and regular discussions help children walk through changes in their bodies and minds. Talking about sexuality through the eyes of faith and God’s design opens children up to a whole different world view from our culture’s view of sexuality. And this is important to talk about openly rather than prudishly or defaulting to reacting whenever we find out they’ve heard something at school or from a friend. We’re like a good local TV station: “You heard it here first!”

Soga cultural views of sexuality
In my novel, High Places I wrote about the rites of passage that allow a young boy in Uganda to become a man. Part of this process is to build and move into his own hut. This allows more privacy for the parents and builds a sense of ownership and responsibility in the young adolescent. Girls often are given in marriage at young ages, after they develop physically, but much of that is changing in those who are realizing that girls deserve education as much as boys do, so some girls are given different rooms of the house or another hut to live in as well.

Often, an aunt or uncle takes a child aside and reveals to them the mysteries of sexuality and marriage. There are taboos of speaking about sexuality with certain direct relations. In fact, a daughter-in-law is not even allowed in the same house with her husband’s father. This is to protect from indiscretions and shameful relationships.

Early parameters for Israel’s sexuality
From Israel’s earliest days as a people, God has set boundaries around their sexual lives, calling this and everything else they do in body as a holy act that must remain worthy of their walk as “my people who are called out” (Hebrew term for title of Leviticus). The holiness codes of Leviticus repeatedly show that the sexual act that creates another life is a sacred act.

In Leviticus 18, immediately following an introduction to separation from Egypt and Canaan and their ways, comes a litany of prohibitions about sexual perversions, starting with the general and becoming more and more specific and grotesque, including beastiality and giving children in prostitution and even sacrifice. At the end of some of the prohibitions is the statement, “I am the Lord.” This says that sexuality is under the authority of God who cares about what we do under the covers. It says something about the nature of God. He cares about and gives parameters for sexual life (18:7-18).

Sharing faith in God for our families means giving important parameters and guidelines for sexuality, communicating what Godly intimacy is, what God desires, practice of self-control, and learning about beautiful sexuality in marriage. There’s no way this can be achieved in “the talk” but in a purposeful and gracious conversation over many years with our children as they grow and mature.

The animal I’m most fascinated by in Uganda

I’ve watched elephants for hours in game parks in Uganda, Kenya, and Zimbabwe . . . and at a few zoos. This one I saw and videoed in Queen Elizabeth National Park in Western Uganda in 2010.

I love the strength, trunk action of feeding, and the awareness of others around with a shake of the ears.

What’s your favorite animal?

Drive Uganda 3: Hitchhiking in Uganda

In Uganda, hitchhiking is common as the cold.  But don’t picture a hippie with a joint in the 60s.  Think of an old lady with creaky joints in her 60s.  A lady of this description flags me down one Sunday on a rural dirt road.  We greet each other through a cloud of rolling dust.

“How did you sleep?” I ask.

“Fine.  Take me to the church!” the old hitchhiker says.

“Which one?”

“The church up there.”

“Where?”

“There! UP THERE!” she points with her lips and hits every syllable hard.

“Huh? Wha? Wher–?  Ok, just get in and show me.” Continue reading

Drive Uganda 1: Countdown to 100,000 Miles

In the mid-90s my wife, children, and I lived in Jinja, Uganda and worked with a church planting team, what is now more identified in the United States as The Kibo Group. I often wrote about my adventures and misadventures in and around Jinja. Here I wrote about the fascinating sites and sounds along the roads in Uganda.

It was a big day.  I would be preaching in Buvulunguti, Uganda village where a church started recently.  And our ’92 Toyota pickup’s odometer would roll to 100,000 kilometers on the way to that village.

IMG_9874One-hundred-thousand is a vehicle’s rite of passage, and we males actually bond with the hunk of steel as the 99999 rolls over.  You scoff, ‘Kilometers!’  Mind you, there are more bone-rattling potholes and vehicle-crunching bumps in one African kilometer than in 100 miles on most U.S. roads.

The odometer reads 99938 as I begin, and I make a mental note to watch for the important event during the drive. Driving in Uganda is rarely boring or uneventful.  I zoom by a biker with a 20-pound Nile Perch from Lake Victoria laying across the back of his bicycle.  A goat, tied next to the road, strains for a blade of grass just out of its reach. Continue reading

Does God Speak Audibly to People Today Like He is Portrayed Doing in Bible Times?

In this second blog post that’s part 2 after a review I did of Bill Hybel’s The Power of a Whisper, I clarified some the title. The part 1 blog title was, “Does God Speak?” When I read it again, I thought, of course He does. He speaks anytime He wants, and has throughout time.

Foster Bible Pictures 0060-1 Moses Sees a Fire...

Foster Bible Pictures 0060-1 Moses Sees a Fire Burning in a Bush (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The clarified question is, “Does God continue to speak audibly to people today like He is portrayed doing in the Bible?”

First, let’s review how God speaks in Bible times:

  1. Through messengers called Angels (to many)
  2. Through donkeys (to Balaam)
  3. Like a friend (to Moses)
  4. Through tablets (10 Commandments)
  5. By burning stuff (burning bush, pillar of fire showing presence, burning up wet sacrifices – Elijah)
  6. Through dreams (Joseph, Daniel, kings, prophets)
  7. Whispers (Elijah)
  8. By tricks or tests of God (Gideon – was his fleece test appropriate as a test of God?)
  9. Direct voice (to Moses, many prophets)
  10. Prophets themselves as messengers
  11. Through incarnate Son Jesus
  12. Through written texts of Law, Prophets, Gospels, Letters, and Apocalypse
  13. Through the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire causing Apostles to speak intelligible languages spoken in first century world
  14. Through blinding light and vision of the Son (to Saul later named Paul)
  15. Through visions called Apocalypses (to Daniel, John)
  16. Apostles thought God speaks by casting lots or drawing straws for decisions

Have I left some examples out? I’m sure I have. Comment and write your examples from Scripture, citing who and the situation. Continue reading

Walk With Me Across a Rickety Bridge

On a visit to help a village learn the Water4.org method of water well drilling, we stayed with long-time friends James and Margaret Okumu, who live on a picturesque close to the border of Uganda and Kenya.

In the video below I’m following the group as we walk across a rickety bridge over the swamp. There are many of these bridges to navigate. The night before we walked over these bridges in the dark. James Okumu rides his motorcycle on these.

Because it is so difficult to pass here, it prevents commerce that could otherwise be done and allows for a lot of shady business between the borders. For many years this village area, called Budoola and Buwembe, heard politicians tell them they’d receive a new road over the swamp.

James told me shortly after we were there walking on this bridge, that the government came and build new culverts and a road through this swamp.

Much is made about going to build buildings in developing nations, schools, orphanages. This is good, but consider if you are an engineer or builder what can be done to build roads where people can simply use them to transport goods to market more easily. Much can be done by engineers and roads to help make people’s lives better.

Engineers and designers of the world chime in here. I want to hear from you.

Reading: Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis with Beth Clark

CIA World Factbook map of the country of Uganda.

Image via Wikipedia

Katie Davis was 18 when she first made a mission trip to Jinja, Uganda–a place I called home for seven years with my family–and decided to return for a year that has now stretched into three years. She went to Uganda with no college degree or nursing certificate but with a heart of Christ.

What would cause an 18-year-old homecoming queen from Nashville, Tennessee to forgo college, lose her friends, and break up with the love of her life–all to move thousands of miles away from her family?

Her trip to Uganda turned her life inside out. She was so moved by the Ugandan people, particularly the children–that she gave up a comfortable life to fulfill her calling to care for the poor who cannot afford basic necessities and school fees for their children.

Katie is now 22 and has published a book that will be available in October 2011.

The following are some excerpts and observations about her book and her work.

My heart was on fire with a passion to say yes to God’s every request–to do more to help the people around me. Starting a ministry in Uganda wasn’t something I had in mind when I came here, but it seemed the only logical next step as people approached me needing help and I said yes to meeting their needs. As I prayed about what to do next and sought counsel from friends and family, I realized the only way to really be able to meet all the needs I wanted to meet in this community–to pay for children’s school, keep their bellies full, offer medical assistance, and most important teach them about Christ’s love for them–would be to start some kind of nonprofit organization.

This would be the first of many, many times we would invite disease-ridden people into our home (p 97)

People from my first home say I’m brave . . . They pat me on the back and say, “Way to go. Good job.” But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for the “least of these,” so that’s what I’m doing, with the help of a lot of people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living.

Barefoot

I thought a lot about my friend Daniel Mwaza today. Daniel is 6’4″ and has size 14 feet and for the 16 years I’ve known him, he’s walked around and worked barefooted.

He’s about my age and chooses not to wear shoes. Today, I chose to go barefooted to remember him, to remember the children who do not have shoes any day.

Many children in the world–places like Uganda where Mwaza lives–can’t choose to wear or not to wear shoes. They simply have no shoes. Walking around barefooted allows worms to bore into their feet, and it makes them sick.

Toms shoes is a great idea and venture to provide a pair of shoes for needy around the world with each pair of shoes you buy.

www.onedaywithoutshoes.com