In our first lesson we talked about Love. Some of my more religious friends will probably be upset that God was not number one. I understand their reasoning and I hope they can empathize with my argument that you need to understand what love is before you can truly understand what God has done for you. I would like to set a couple of ground rules before we begin.
Your mother and I will baptize you in front of the God we believe in, doing so in the way we believe to be appropriate. I am only doing this because it is what her and I believe is right. This is a struggle for me to come to terms with because your Grammy did not force faith on me and I found God in my own way. I pray that you find God in your own way; if you don’t, I pray you at least take the lessons the bible teaches you, and store them deep in your heart and mind.
It was difficult in the time period your mother and I grew up in to be proud of our faith. Even now, we lack the same discipline in our faith that your Mimi exemplifies. I think it was easier to be a devout Christian years ago because everyone believed, and even if they didn’t they acted as if they did. The relationship most people of my generation have with God is much more relaxed than previous generations, if it exists at all.
I assume it will be even more non-existent in the time period you grow up in. People will move further and further away from faith. You may even be the odd child out if you decide early on to cherish your faith in God. Whether you choose to believe in God or not, I want you to take the following lessons from the bible and exemplify them in your own life. Any lesson you learn, can most likely be found first in the bible and the first lesson I taught you about love stems from God’s relationship with his son.
God So loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.John 3:16 (KJV)
You will learn the story of Jesus and how he died on the cross for us and for our sins. This lesson is hard to comprehend for a child. It is even harder to comprehend for a man. How can any being willingly sacrifice his own child for a group of people who question his own existence? I still don’t know the answer. What I have learned from this is that sacrifice is an extremely important part of our society. We need men and women who are willing to sacrifice themselves and their most cherished possessions for the betterment of society. Without this sacrifice our species will surely perish. Many of us believe this level of sacrifice only exists in the actions of God and his Son. I could spend this entire post talking about sacrifice of a son and love of a father. We could go into Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son for his belief in God. I can only hope that one day you are able to empathize with this level of sacrifice. Moreover, that you one day find a cause that you are so willing to sacrifice for.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)
Fear is an emotion that many people in our society deal with on a regular basis. We will have an entire discussion of fear and strategies to deal with it. This discussion can start with the fact that your faith in God will shield you against all fears. Love for someone, or something that is so strong will grant you the ability to overcome fear. I have much to talk to you about in terms of fear but for now let your response to fear start with God and the lessons he teaches us. God does not instill a sense of fear inside of you. One day you will learn to appreciate the gift of fear. You will harness its capabilities and realize that it does not handicap you, but instead it provides you a sound mind. Should you have trouble shielding yourself from fear look only towards the next piece of scripture I want to share with you.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of GodEphesians 6 10:17 (KJV)
This verse is probably the one that has given me the most strength throughout my life. Your Uncle David handed me this verse on a coin before I left for the Marine Corps. During some of my darkest times in entry level training I relied upon this verse for strength. This verse embodies all of the lessons I want you to take from the bible. Your love of God will shield you from the spiritual wickedness that does exist in this world. There will be days where you will require support to even stand. It is provided to you. Your ability to sacrifice will be empowered by the tools that God gives you. I promise if you only believe, that no wicked will fall upon you.
I mean it when I say I want you to question your faith. I want you to find in your heart whether or not you believe in God’s existence. Even when you are absolutely sure in the existence of God I want you to question yourself. This questioning will either strengthen your faith or force you to look for answers elsewhere. When you have completely given up on God, come back to his lessons and question your faith again. God will not give up on you.
Most importantly, have the faith to believe in things even when others don’t. This starts with god but it bleeds into other parts of your life as well. Our society is pushing further into narcissistic though patterns. These patterns do not blend well with love of your fellow brother, or willingness to sacrifice for the good of the community. We need young men like you to develop the those capabilities to further the betterment of our nation and our people. Creation stories like those found in the bible are the basis for all beliefs, norms, and morals. If you can understand their basis in the bible you will be able to apply them to other social sciences.
I have so much more to teach you about God and the Bible. I hope it is a journey you will take my hand in one day. Until then just remember these three pieces of scripture and the lessons they teach you. Love will empower your sacrifice. It will embolden your actions in the presence of fear. It will shield you from the wicked. We will build on these principles. I will teach you more skills to empower you. For now, this foundation will be a tremendous support system to build upon.
To read about the impetus behind this series of blog posts click here