Why We Need To Change Our Perceptions

We all have different ways of perceiving people and life events. Some of our perceptions are accurate and factual. Others are based on preconceived notions and experiences. Some perceptions are good. Some are quite negative and downright harmful.

For example, a while back I watched a show where they researched how different people perceived certain groups of people.  I don’t remember all four groups that the majority of people put others into based on how they perceive them.  But, one group stood out to me as it hit close to home.

That group was called, “not dangerous, incompetent.”

Guess who was put into this group.

The disabled and the elderly.  Had children been a part of this research, I’m sure children also would have been placed into the group as well since the majority tends to perceived children as incompetent.

What is sad is I am severely physically disabled due to my cerebral palsy, and yet, I have a Master’s Degree.  Every day I must deal with people that perceive me as incompetent.  This is why I’m working on getting my first children’s book published to change the negative and inaccurate perceptions of having a disability.

The elderly are very competent!  They have years of wisdom even if their bodies won’t allow them to physically accomplish that which they once could.

And finally, children are extremely competent!  They are capable of so much more than we give them credit.  Yet, we never appreciate their abilities, but punish them for not being adults.

Thankfully, Jesus never liked how society perceived and viewed children.  He gives us a high command when it comes to children.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10).
I believe that our society as a whole despises children. Children are the least respected people of our society.

They are murdered before they are born.

They are left to cry alone.

They are spanked/hit and publicly shamed.

People argue about their “right” to treat them however they want.

They are called horrible names.

The saddest thing about this is it’s Christians promoting much of this. Yet, Jesus is the One who elevated children’s societal status.

The way we view children is how they will behave. And when Christians perceive and view children as “sinners” and “manipulative,” they react and punish what they perceive as “defiance” when the child simply is trying to communicate with us.  That’s why Dobson’s (and others like him) view is so dangerous.   Not only does he call children horrible, degrading names in his books, but he sets up an adversarial parent-child relationship.

Interestingly, God calls children blessings in Psalm 127:3. I view children as little people in need of help, guidance, and discipline (teaching). When the focus is on cooperation instead of control, children cooperate. I’ve worked with some pretty difficult children and was able to get them to cooperate through positive discipline strategies such as modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children. Children do better when we perceive and view them as God does.

We need to change our perceptions of all people–young and old, disabled, or any other differences.  We need to do our best to base our perception on fact.  Smaller humans are competent!

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Infants: Innocent or “Sinful?”

Many Christians claim infants are “sinful” and “manipulative.”  This is based on an inaccurate interpretation of Psalm 51:5 which states:

“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5, NASB).

Even many Bible versions inaccurately translate this verse to say that David was “sinful” from birth. What I believe the verse is actually saying is that David’s mother was sinning when he was conceived.  Other verses seem to contradict the church doctrine of infants being born “sinful.”  Let’s look at some.

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” ( James 4:17, NASB).

Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it” (Deuteronomy 1:39, NASB).

“For sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law” (Romans 5:13, ESV).

“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these'” (Matthew 19:14, NASB).

As we can see, infants and young children are not ever considered “sinful” in the Bible.  We will all eventually sin in our lives and will need Jesus to save us from our sins, but infants do not even know what sin is, therefore, they cannot understand what sin is.  They re so young and are totally in the present moment.  They cannot plan ahead.

Also, if we truly observe infants in an objective manner, we’ll see that they are eager to interact with us.  And as soon as they can physically do it, they will offer toys and food to us.  It may be slobbery, but they love to share with us and interact with us.

A “sinful” infant wouldn’t get joy from taking turns with us and interacting with us.  A “sinful” infant would never ever be satisfied with us.  I must point out that some infants are born with special needs and can’t interact the way typical infants can.  Other infants are very high needs.  These infants are not “sinful.”

No infants are ever “sinful.”  Infants are totally innocent.  It is very important for us to understand that infants’ wants are also their needs. Infants are incapable of manipulating us during their first year of life. Yes, as they get older, they can wait a bit for a need to be met as long as we tell them we will meet it soon and follow through. But even wanting to be held is an actual need for infants.

Let’s do our best to treat infants in a manner that will allow them to keep their innocence for as long as possible instead of treating them harshly, making them learn to be selfish.

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Sacrifice And Love For Others–Especially Our Children

Romans 15:1-7:

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me.” For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”

I think this Scripture is key in how we should interact with others, especially our children. It seems that many Christians are not willing to self-sacrifice for the betterment of others. If it’s not convenient for us, then we won’t sacrifice for others.

Guess what!  Being crucified on a cross was not convenient to Jesus, but because He loved us so much, He died a horrific death for us–His beloved children!

I think it’s beyond sad that many popular, mainstream “Christian child-rearing experts” actually discourage parents from self-sacrificing for their children. Instead of rearranging their lives to include children, these “experts” teach parents to force a new human being to fit within the parents’ lives so the child knows that he/she is not too important.

How is that obeying what God clearly lays out in the above Scripture?  Children are indeed weaker than us. They need constant care and guidance from us which should involve major self-sacrifice from us.

Leaving infants to cry-it-out so that we can get a good night’s sleep is not self-sacrificing nor is it accepting infants for who they are.

Staying up with them and engaging in nighttime parenting despite being absolutely exhausted is self-sacrificing and accepting them.

Spanking/hitting, using time-out, shaming, arbitrarily taking things away, yelling, and other harsh punishment with our children is not self-sacrificing or accepting children.

Doing the hard work of disciplining (teaching, guiding, correcting) using positive, respectful, and gentle techniques such as modeling, child-proofing, validating feelings, fulfilling the child’s physical and emotional needs, setting realistic limits and boundaries, helping children comply, giving choices, and using natural and logical consequences with children is self-sacrificing and accepting of our children.

Most Christian claim that if they don’t spank/hit and “teach” their children that the world does not revolve around them that their children will turn into self-entitled brats.  Let me tell you this: Children learn by our actions. Some of the most self-entitled people I know grew up in punitive households where they were constantly “put in their places.”  Their parents were so focused on forcing their children into self-sacrifice that the children never truly learned how to sacrifice for the sake of others.

True love means being willing to sacrifice, accept, give grace and mercy for another no matter how inconvenient it is to us. We must model this to our children.

Biblical love does not involve inflicting pain on children as many Christians still believe due to errant interpretation of this verse:

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Proverbs 13:24, NASB).

In order to understand this, we need to understand that the Biblical Rod was a big, heavy stick with spikes on it. Shepherds never hit their own sheep with the rod. Rather, they used it to protect their sheep from predators. We need to do the same with our children. We need to sacrifice ourselves in order to protect our children from the enemy, satan, who comes to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).

Biblical love is clearly defined as:

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cornithians 13:4-7, ESV).

May we use self-sacrifice to truly love our children and everyone!

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Can Our Children Come With Confidence?

Hebrews 4:14-16, NASB:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

I love this passage!  God wants us to come to Him with confidence.  That means no matter what we’ve done or how we are feeling, we can approach God in humbleness and reverence knowing He will always accept, love, and forgive us. He also sympathizes with whatever we are going through.

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1, NASB).

Can you say the same about your children?  Do your children have enough confidence in you to come to you for anything and everything?  What about you?  Are you totally confident in going to God for anything and everything?

Sadly, the answer to these questions for many is “no.”  Our world tends to use threats and fear to control children. Infants are left to cry-it-out instead of being sensitively responded to when they cry. Children are spanked/hit and otherwise punished instead of being guided through problems. Churches teach that God is mean and angry instead of loving and merciful.

Treating children harshly makes them lose confidence in us and, ultimately, God.  How can anyone approach someone in total confidence if they might hurt or reject us?  I know I can’t.

I know a great deal of people who are so used to being rejected, hurt, and treated harshly/abusively that they struggle to trust God. They’ve been spanked/hit in His name and fear that He will hurt them whenever they mess up. Some Christians find the thought of someday seeing Jesus face to face and His unconditional love for them more terrifying than the thought of going to Hell due to how they were treated as children. That is beyond sad!

We need to do our best to be Christlike with our children. That means responding to our babies’ cries every time they need us. It also means being willing to help children when they openly tell us they’ve made a mistake. This does not mean being permissive as many may think.  This means stepping up and saying, “Thank you for telling me. What can you do to make this right?  How can I help you?”

Connection, as L. R. Knost says, is key to guiding children of every age through problems. Connection leads to trust.  And trust leads to confidence in us, and ultimately, God.  God wants our total trust and confidence in Him.

Also, let’s not forget the second part of the introductory Scripture. God sympathizes with us!  Jesus was 100% human and 100% God.  He suffered from humanness. He was thoroughly tempted by satan and did not sin. And yet, when we sin, He doesn’t sit up there and wag His finger at us and say, “You disobeyed me so I must spank you.”  No, instead He gets on our level and says, “You messed up. I forgive you. How can I help you make this right?”  Yes, we suffer the natural consequences of our actions, but God will help us through it. He gives us mercy, grace, love, and forgiveness.

If you read this post, you know my husband and I are grieving the loss of his mom. Again, I’m so grateful God can sympathize with our pain. I’m so grateful God doesn’t punish us when we mess up usually because we are hurting inside and that hurt can come out as us lashing out.

God wants us to come to Him with total confidence. And since we are responsible for leading our children to Him, we need to do our best to help them be able to come to us with total confidence. If they can’t, they’ll find someone else to place their confidence in and that person may not have their best interests at heart.

So, can your children come with confidence?

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Yet Another Reason NOT To Fear God Nor Teach Children To Fear

Romans 8:14-17
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.

According to this Scripture, we are no longer to be afraid, especially of God. As I explained in this post, we can’t truly love, trust, or respect someone of which we are afraid.

If we have accepted Christ’s amazing gift of grace and forgiveness, then we are His children as this verse says. We should no longer be slaves to fear. Sadly, though, many of us are still slaves to fear due to how we were raised as well as had church doctrine.

Fear is not a good thing. When a child’s brain is wired with fear from harsh/abusive parenting, he/she will likely suffer with anxiety for the rest of his/her life. This is not good and can make the person feel like a failure because no matter how hard he/she tries, he/she can’t always overcome the intense, overwhelming fear and anxiety.

Yet, according to this Scripture, God loves us so much that He wants us to call Him, “Abba! Father!” which means Daddy.

It’s not easy to call Him or our earthly fathers “Daddy” in a totally trusting manner when we’re scared of Him or them. We may do it to please our earthly fathers, but it’s not out of complete trust.

Children need to be taught that they’re completely safe with us and their Heavenly Daddy. They should know without a shadow of a doubt that neither their earthly parents or their Heavenly Daddy will never intentionally hurt them.

Please use trust, connection, and love to parent.

And we, adults, should get used to calling God, “Daddy!”

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Can There Really Be A Balance Between Love, Trust, And Fear?

Many Christians tend to believe that there should be a balance between love and fear when it comes to our relationship with God. They also believe that their children should have a “healthy fear” of them. Punitive parents tend to confuse fear with respect.

Is it truly possible to have a balance between fear/terror, love, and trust?  How can we truly trust someone that we are afraid of?

Let’s look at the definitions of fear/terror, love, respect, and trust.

Dictionary.com defines fear as “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.”  Terror is defined as “intense, sharp, overmastering fear.”

Dictionary.com defines trust as “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.”

Dictionary.com defined respect as “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability; to hold in esteem or honor.”

Finally, dictionary.com defines love as “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person: a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.”

As we can clearly see, fear, trust, love, and respect have absolutely nothing to do with each other. What I find even more interesting is that the definition for fear contains the words “evil” and “pain” whereas trust, love, and respect do not.

This makes sense because fear is not from God as 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”

It makes me wonder why so many Christians believe that fear and respect are one and the same.  They’ll claim that their children “respect” them when, in reality, it’s fear because children know that they’ll get punished for not obeying. Fear makes children behave out of self-preservation, not because they want to please us or trust us.

Respect and trust allows children to cooperate with us because they love, trust, and respect us. Often times these children will surprise us by spontaneously doing something nice for us because they find pleasure in helping us. They know we respect them and always have their best interests at heart. They also know that we won’t intentionally hurt them when they displease us.

While we can love a parent that we don’t trust or respect, it’s a weird love. My dad physically, emotionally, and verbally abused me throughout my childhood. Yes, I loved him, but I was often afraid to be with him. I felt like I had to be a certain way in order not to be hurt by him. I didn’t look forward to seeing him. But, because he was my dad, I did love him. He died in 2003 and I still struggle because I can’t remember him as a good guy.

My mom, on the other hand, is someone I can look forward to being with when we visit. I love, trust, and respect her. Sure, we’ve had our issues but I’m not (never was) afraid of her.

The same goes for my husband and friends. Then there’s God. I am not afraid of God. I know He will never hurt me. I struggle sometimes with trusting Him due to how I was raised and my brain wiring due to being abused.  If I was “terrified” of God, I could not have a personal relationship with Him.

I do NOT believe there can be a “healthy balance” between love and terror when it comes to our relationships with God. That just isn’t possible. How can we totally trust and rely on Him if we are terrified of Him in some way?

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Yes, the Bible does tell us to fear God.  Yirat Adonai is Hebrew for the fear of the LORD.  Terror, being scared, being afraid of God is not what this Hebrew term means. Rather, to “fear God” means to be reverent, in awe, and worship Him. It also means to take Him at His Word.  God does not want us to be afraid of Him. In fact, over & over in the Bible God tells His people NOT to be afraid of Him.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:15-18).

Even Christ said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I” (John 14:27-28).

Again, I must ask if we are to be scared or afraid of our loving, merciful God, then what kind of personal relationship is that with Him?  I run AWAY from things and people I’m afraid of, and yet, God wants us to run TO Him!

May we, as Christians and as parents, let go of this twisted church doctrine that claims that fear/terror must be a part of our relationships with God and our children. That is a lie from satan who wants to do everything in his power to hinder love, trust, and respect in our relationships with God and our children. This lie may even prevent some from coming to know Christ’s amazing saving grace!

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Are Children Truly Selfish?

Many people, especially Christians, think that young children’s incapability to always share or to not be able to put themselves in other’s shoes or to need what they need is selfishness. They think this is children’s “flesh” and “sinful nature” taking over. It is not sin or selfishness at all.

It’s a developmental stage that young children go through. Only much older children and adults are truly able to be selfish. We have impulse control. We should have empathy. Children don’t. They’re learning.

Infants and toddlers are very aware of their parents’ emotions from birth and are affected by them, but this does not mean that infants and toddlers can empathize with the parents.
Young children from birth until somewhere around the age of four or five years are what Jean Piaget calls egocentric. Again, this is not due to their “sinful nature” and it does not mean that young children are evil. God designed children exactly how they are. There’s a reason He made young children egocentric, probably for survival in this harsh, sinful world.

As we teach children empathy by modeling it to them as well as pointing out how their behaviors–both positive and negative–affect others, children begin to learn how to be empathetic.  We need to teach them how to be gentle and respectful to others by being gentle and respectful to them.

Punishing them will always hinder their learning of selflessness.

Unfortunately, parents who use fear and punishment to make their children obey them are actually teaching their children to be selfish as the child is not thinking about doing something for another person but rather protecting him/herself from punishment. We should not be teaching our children to only do things to avoid punishment, as the Bible says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).

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I’ve dealt with many pro-spankers, and the way some of them dismiss the painful experiences a great deal of people have had with being hit by their parents is selfish.  The way pro-spankers automatically assume that their children will “survive” just because they feel they did is selfish.

In essence, spanking/hitting makes many selfish because it leads to worldly sorrow and a sense of self preservation instead of godly sorrow.

So, what is godly sorrow and worldly sorrow?

In 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, it states:

“Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while—yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”

What the Apostle Paul is saying here is that godly sorrow makes us think beyond ourselves to how our actions have hurt or affected other people and our relationship with God. We look past whatever consequences our actions caused us and want to do everything in our power to repent and seek forgiveness from God and the person we have hurt. This is why Paul says that godly sorrow brings life as we seek to be forgiven.

On the other hand, worldly sorrow brings death according to what Paul says in this verse. Due to fear of punishment as well as guilt, people of all ages will focus on the consequences that are happening to them because of their actions rather than how they’ve hurt God and the other person. This is worldly sorrow. Being afraid of punishment and rejection causes worldly sorrow. Also, feeling so guilty and bad about oneself that one feels that he/she deserves whatever punishment he/she has coming to him/her leads to worldly sorrow.

We need to do our best to use discipline instead of punishment so that our children don’t become selfish people who believe that it is perfectly acceptable to inflict pain on others.

No, young children are not selfish, but we sure can be!

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The Yoke, The Pointing Finger, and The Judge

Isaiah 58:6-10

“Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every yoke?
“Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
“Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness,
And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.”

This passage shows God wants to break the yoke of oppression which He did through Jesus. In fact, Jesus said, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew11:30, NASB). Yet, many Christians do the exact opposite of what Isaiah 58:6-10 tells us to do.

Christians point their fingers at others, especially children. Christians put the yoke of oppression on others, especially children. And Christians judge!

I have been guilty of pointing fingers and judging myself. I am far from perfect.

Of course, before I get into how we do this with children, I need to comment about the most recent ways Christians are pointing fingers, placing the yoke of oppression onto others, and are judging. This week the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage should be allowed in every state. This has Facebook going nuts. Many Christians are angry. People are arguing. Memes are going around. And many profile pictures have rainbows on them.

I’ve stayed out of it for the most part except for commenting on a few friends’ posts.

I believe the act of engaging in homosexual acts is a sin according to the Bible. I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman as even Jesus reiterated in Matthew 19:4-6. Marriage is a symbol of the covenant between God and the Church, therefore, it is Holy Matrimony. That being said, this is not a Christian nation. I’m not sure if it was ever really founded on Christian principles. What this country was founded on is freedom. That includes freedom of religion. I am free to follow Jesus and worship Him openly. There is a reason for the separation of church and state. The government has no business telling us what religion or deity to follow.

Allowing gays to marry is simply giving them freedom. Do I agree with that lifestyle? No. Is it my job to push my Biblical belief onto them? No.

I am not condoning the lifestyle of homosexuality. But, God gives us free will. They are free to live how they want. They’ll never enter into Holy Matrimony, but since this is a free country and as long as they’re not hurting anyone but themselves, I believe they should have equal rights.

If we want them to come to Jesus, we need to love them as Jesus does. We are all sinners. Stop judging, pointing fingers, and placing the yoke of oppression on them and just give them grace and love. They already know we disagree. Instead of making this such a huge deal, why not quietly show them love by remaining peaceful? It doesn’t mean we condone it. It just means we be Jesus to them.

Now, when it comes to children, many Christians also put the yoke of oppression on them, point their fingers at them, and judge them.

The primary way we put the yoke of oppression on children is putting unrealistic, unattainable expectations on them. Expecting infants to sleep through the night is unrealistic and unattainable. Expecting toddlers to control their impulses and emotions is unattainable and unrealistic. Expecting children to cheerfully obey the first time is also unattainable and unrealistic. Christians who have unrealistic, developmentally inappropriate expectations of children oppress them because they do not allow them to be children. They force children to be someone they’re not. Children are not free.

Then when children don’t live up to the unrealistic expectations, they get fingers pointing at them saying how “bratty, sinful, defiant, rotten, spoiled, and horrible” they are. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this happen to children who were just being children. Of course, many parents point their finger at their children while rebuking them. Yet, the opening passage tells us to stop pointing our fingers at each other. This applies to children too.

Finally, many Christians judge children. They can’t negatively label children without judging them. And with judgment comes punishment by either ignoring an infant’s cries so they “learn to sleep,” which the only thing infants learn through cry-it-out is that we won’t come. They still wake up hungry, scared, in pain, sick, hot, cold, wet, poopy but they won’t cry out because they’ve learned nobody will come. This is not what God wanted. And they don’t enter a natural sleep when left to cry-it-out. Infants’ bodies shut down from all of the stress of crying and they enter a forced state of sleep.

As far as judging children and really, anyone, Jesus says not to do it.

Matthew 7:1-5 states, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

When we decide that a child deserves punishment for “defiant” behavior, we are judging the child. Instead of judging and meting out what we think is “proper punishment,” we must connect with and discipline the child.

Let us stop, as Christians, doing the very things God is trying to undo. Stop placing the yoke of oppression on others. Let us stop pointing our fingers at others. And let us stop judging each other. May we love one another as the Bible says over and over again.

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Knowledge Does NOT Equal Understanding

I watched this video called, “The Backwards Brain Bicycle.” In this video, a guy has to re-learn how to ride a bike that was built exactly opposite of how typical bikes are built. He was totally taken aback by how difficult and how long it took him to learn how to ride this bike. He had been riding bikes for over 20 years. Finally, he gets the hang of the bike, but then, when getting back on a normal bike, he finds that it takes him a bit to be able to ride it again.

Interestingly, his young son was able to learn to ride a backwards bicycle in just a couple of weeks, thus, showing that young children’s brains have far more plasticity than our adult brains do.

What really hit me with this video is when the guy says, “Knowledge does not equal understanding.”  He had plenty of knowledge on bike riding, but make a change to the bike and all that knowledge went right out the window because he just had knowledge without a true understanding of bikes.

All of this got me thinking that the Church today may have a lot of knowledge, but not a lot of understanding. They can memorize Scripture, but do they truly understand the Scripture?  I mean, I’ve memorized Scripture as a young Christian because that was the thing to do. However, it never really touched my heart until God revealed Himself to me through particular verses. I may not have exact verses memorized anymore, but I can come up with them when needed because it’s the meaning of Scripture that matters more than just rote recall.

I think when teaching children Scripture, our focus should not be on rote memorization.  It should be on getting them to truly understand Scripture.

Let’s look at what the Bible says about being able to truly understand Scripture and, ultimately, the true character of God.

“And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that “they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven'” (Mark 4:11-12, ESV).

“And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” (1 Cornithians 2:13, ESV).

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6, ESV).

*Note: I know Hosea says knowledge but I think it can also mean understanding as God’s people knew Him and His laws, yet they still turned from Him.

“And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear'” (Matthew 13:3-9, NASB).

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25, NASB).

Also, many people seem to believe that they know a lot about children.  Some of these people are called Christian child-rearing “experts.”  These “experts” claim that all “misbehaviors” stem from children’s “sinful nature” or “defiance” and must be dealt with swiftly through spanking/hitting the children and the use of other harsh punishments. They clearly do not understand child development!

Understanding child development is crucial to disciplining children appropriately. When we see that God actually created children to go through each developmental stage, we can figure out kinder, more merciful ways of guiding them through each stage. The Bible says that children are blessings from God in Psalm 127:3.  Jesus says we are to be like children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 18. Jesus raised the status of children.

We must take time to truly understand Scripture, the true character of God, and our children in order to effectively live our lives as Christ-like as possible.  Knowledge may be power. But I believe understanding is where the true power lies!

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Born Sinful?

I believe the doctrine of original sin is man made like the doctrine of spanking is man made.

God created children to go through each developmental stage. Babies cry to communicate. Toddlers test boundaries and lack impulse control. Young children do not set out to sin until they are older.

God does not call children sinners. The way we view children is how they will behave. Many Christians seem to view children as “sinners” and “manipulative.” That’s Dobson’s view too as he calls them horrible degrading names in his books. This sets up an adversarial parent-child relationship.

Interestingly, God calls children blessings in Psalm 127:3. I view children as little people in need of help, guidance, and discipline (teaching).

When the focus is on cooperation instead of control, children cooperate. Children do better when we view them as God does. Young children are not capable of truly understanding sin. They even have a special knowledge of Who God is according to Matthew 25:11.

I do believe Jesus cried as a baby and screamed as a toddler because these are developmental behaviors. James 4:17 states, “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” This can only apply to older children and adults who truly understand sin. “Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it” (Deuteronomy 1:39).

God clearly says young children do not know right from wrong. It’s up to us to gently teach and guide them through each developmental stage.

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