Are Love And Truth Mutually Exclusive And Full Of Tension?

Happy New Year 2017.  As I begin this new year, I find myself relating less and less to the Christian world.  I’m a Christ-follower through and through.  I strive to be more like Jesus and less judgmental.  As I grow in my walk with Christ, the mainstream Christian worldview just feels so harsh and misguided and judgmental.  I’m not seeing much Christ in these people.  That makes me so sad because I’m seeing just how broken the Church really is.

I know we are all a bunch of broken, sinful people but we should be striving to be more loving, compassionate, merciful, peaceful, gentle, forgiving, and full of grace.  In other words, more like Jesus Christ!  But all I’m seeing is harshness, judging, accusations, promotion of being harsh to children and anyone who dares to disagree with you and/or dares to take a less literal interpretation of parts of the Bible.  To dare live outside of the mainstream Christian culture is to go to “Hell” and to be part of the devil’s schemes.

Anyone who has followed me and/or has read my book, Gentle Firmness, knows that I have been struggling with fitting in with the Christian culture because I can see that God never intended for children to be spanked/hit by their parents.  Sadly, the mainstream Christian world disagrees with me and refuses to see the Truth.  And now that I have gotten tattoos, I’m really enjoying that culture because it’s so real, loving, and actually Christ-like, yet, even though nobody has said anything to me, I know some of my Christian friends are probably thinking that I am really backsliding now.  Not only do I advocate for peaceful parenting but I am tattooed.

This makes me feel so sad because I take my relationship with Christ very seriously.  I research the Bible and pray before every huge decision.  I’m not perfect and I sin regularly but I also truly want to do as Christ wants me to do.

So imagine my horror and confusion when I saw a meme with a quote from Beth Moore, a Bible teacher, that seems to be saying that to choose love and become more like Jesus is putting the Bible aside.  That love and Truth are in tension with each other.  You can listen to the quote here as I do not want to put the meme in this post.

I used to really look up to Beth Moore.  God has used her books and one of her Bible studies to speak to me.  I can’t say anything bad about Beth Moore but her recent teachings have left me very disturbed.

The Bible tells us to be more like Jesus (Philippians 2:1-11, John 3:30, Ephesians 5:2).  And Christ gave us The Two GREATEST COMMANDMENTS which are:

“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions” (Mark 12:28-34, NASB).

Jesus tells us that love is the most important thing ever!  The love of God and love for each other!  Also, Jesus says that He is the Truth!

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'” (John 14:6, NASB).

Then 1 John 4:8 states:

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (NASB).

And finally, Ephesians 5:1-2 states:

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (NASB).

Love and Truth go hand in hand.  Jesus also said that the Truth will set us free (John 8:32).  So if Jesus is the Truth and is Love according to the Bible, then how is loving people “putting the Bible aside and forsaking the Truth for love a part of ‘the devil’s schemes?'”

Another thing to consider is that the Bible is just one way that God speaks to us.  The Bible is a bunch of beautifully God inspired words.  It’s just a small piece of information that God wants us to have.  However, we must study and look at the original language, historical culture, and the context in which passages were written. The Bible wasn’t written TO us, it was written FOR us!  Big difference!  Most Christians believe the Bible is written TO us.  And the Bible is often referred to as a love letter from God.

Jesus is The Word!

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5, NASB).

Jesus also told us that He would give us a Counselor to help guide us after He ascended into Heaven in John 14:16:

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever;” (NASB).

This Counselor is the Holy Spirit.  He dwells inside us and constantly guides and speaks to us if we will listen to Him.  Therefore, even if we don’t read the Bible, God is still able to speak to us.  Don’t get me wrong, studying the Bible is very important!  But if I were to somehow never be able to read and study the Bible, I have no doubt in my mind that The Word (God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) would continue to teach, guide, correct, love, and speak to me.  We just need to be open to Him!

I used to be a judgmental, legalistic Christian who thought it was my job to correct and save people from their sins.  I thought obeying the rules were of utmost importance.  I told people that they were headed to Hell if they didn’t listen to me and get Jesus.

Guess how many people I helped save by being all about the Truth but not about love?

Zero!  That’s right!  Nobody wanted anything to do with this Jesus guy and it hurt my relationships.

We stand in the Truth by being more like Jesus.  Love is how we reach people.  Jesus was the hardest on the Pharisees and the Teachers of Law because they were all about self-righteousness and legalism and not wanting to hang out with the sinners.  They even criticized Jesus for hanging out with sinners all the time.  Jesus raised the status of all of the oppressed including children, women, people with disabilities, people of different races and ethnicities.  He died for everyone!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what love is!

I’m sorry but I don’t think that Jesus wants us running around condemning people and shaking our fingers in their faces to stand for Truth!

”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” (Isaiah 58:9-10, NASB).

I don’t think He wants us to judge others (Matthew 7:1-6).  I don’t think He wants us to spank/hit children.  I don’t think He wants us to force people to follow Him out of fear.

Rather, I truly believe that Jesus wants us to love as He loves. Yes, sometimes that means correcting someone gently if they are going down the wrong path, but gently is the key word as otherwise, people just get defensive and dig in their heels.

Therefore, there is no “tension” between love and Truth unless we put it there.  Love and Truth go together very easily.

I believe that, sadly, teachers that say that positive Christianity and love are of the devil are the ones who are truly entrapped in satan’s schemes.  After all, satan hates love.

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Guest Post: Remaining Connected With Children As God Does With Us By Amanda Hughes

Note: Amanda is a very good friend of mine.  I was saddened that the Facebook group in which she originally posted this kicked her out for promoting gentle, Christ-like parenting. The Church is very broken indeed.

I posted this on a Christian homeschooling page and it got lots of likes in response to a few common parenting challenges. I got a few likes so I figure I would share just my own words here:

I think a lot of it has to do with perspective of children and God.

I have been asked before about what I do with talking back…And I wonder if my kids have ever done it. I just never thought about it or viewed what my children say as talking back. I think it is communication. So maybe they have, but I just don’t view discussion as talking back. I don’t expect first time obedience because at the age of 41.999999 I am not first time obedient to my Lord. So I “talk back” to Him. I go kicking and screaming sometimes to what God tells me to do. Yes, I talk back to him, I communicate and let Him know what my priorities are and what my hoped outcomes are. He never silences me. He is always so patient. He understands that I am just human and I often consider my wishes. But as I mature I talk to God about working His will in my life, but yes I still share my concerns. He is Abba. He loves me. He wants to hear my thoughts.

Yelling is hard because I think it is normal for children. They want to be heard. And it drives me crazy sometimes. So I start whispering to them. They think I am crazy. Maybe they yelled so much I went crazy. But *I* set the tone…*I* lead the home. So I cannot yell and then expect them not to. And I am not a yeller, I just need to be heard as my words are a priority as the mother. I am in charge. So then I start whispering and ask different kids about something that interests them. I give them attention so they know they are heard. And I think it is hard sometimes for our kids to be heard, particularly when we have many large familes like mine. So we need to hear them just when they speak, or whisper and acknowledge what they are saying. They don’t need to yell to be heard.

I have a son I had such a hard time with until I figured him out. I remember we went to Target and I just needed a birthday card. But he wanted to look at toys. He threw a fit!!! We had to get to the birthday party though. So finally I spoke with him face to face. I said I so much loved looking at toys with him, even when it is just to look. I enjoy seeing what he likes and it was always special time with him. I wanted to be clear with him that I heard him, I understood him, I agreed with him, I loved him – but this one time we could not make time for it. I hoped next time we would have more time to just look at the toy section together and we could see really cool things. Just like that, perfectly calm and compliant. He has a need to be heard and understood.

So I could do the “Because I said so..” route. Or I could connect, hear and acknowledge. And yes it took some time, but it went so much better without ruining relationship. Ruining relationship wasn’t the goal of my quick Target trip.

Disobeying is back to the idea that it is not realistic. Obedience cannot be achieved until a person has accepted Chirst and has been gifted the Fruits of the Spirit. If they do not have self control, they cannot obey. The Holy Spirit works within them, maturing them into a more Christlike being where the spirit of Self Control can overcome a child’s egotistical nature. If a child doesn’t feel like their needs are met, their wants are heard – they cannot consider what others are asking of them.

So I compare it to the mission field. We are in the mission field as homeschooling mothers. When missionaries are trained they are not directed to FORCE tribal people to maintain their moral code or else. They are told to go and meet the needs of the people, learn their culture and language. They work on clean water, medical needs, building a school, etc. They help them before they witness to them. And they need to accept Christ before they can be “expected” to maintain the Christian moral code. It isn’t that the missionaries put tribal people in time out or spank them if they do not meet their standards. No, they meet their needs.

Through the process of relationship building. Teaching that each person’s needs matter. And being the authority because you meet all the needs, keep them safe, teach them (discipleship), feed them, etc – they know you are the one in charge and what you say is to be followed.  They trust you!

My kids do not want to disappoint me. They know through my servant leadership, grace, mercy and forgiveness – that is not only how people are treated because that is all they have ever known. They know that I love them, and they do not want to let me down, because I have never let them down. It is all about relationship. And even though I do not focus on obedience, my kids are obedient. Obedience is a heart issue, not a physical – follow what I say or else – God works on their hearts and they are becoming more Christ like. I focus them on God not me. He is high and holy and I am not. The result is obedient kids.

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Cry-It-Out: What Is It? Why Is It Harmful?

Cry-it-out means to leave an infant to cry alone without any type of response from us in order to sleep train.

Allowing infants to protest while we quickly do something that takes us away from them does not constitute cry-it-out especially if we communicate with them about what we must do. Our aim is not always to stop or prevent crying. Our aim is to validate them, support them, and be responsive to their needs.

Since crying is an infants only way of communication, leaving them in a dark room to cry releases huge amounts of stress hormones to their brains. Sure, they eventually stop and sleep when left to cry-it-out, but it’s not the healthy sleep people believe it is.

Rather, their brains are literally shutting down from stress due to crying so hard. Then the learned helplessness sets in. Infants learn to mistrust themselves and their caregivers when their cries are not consistently and respectfully responded to. Just because allowing them to cry “worked” and they appear fine, doesn’t mean damage didn’t occur.

As an early childhood professional, I cannot recommend cry-it-out ever. Infants need a response when they cry. A little fussing with our support as they fall asleep is ok, but outright ignoring their cries is not. Dr. Bruce Perry, Dr. William Sears, and many others have done research showing that cry-it-out is extremely harmful.

Infants should have consistent bedtime routines such as a warm bath, nursing or bottle feeding, singing, and a book read to them. Children thrive on routines because routines are flexible in order to meet the children’s needs. Schedules are not designed to meet children’s needs. They are more for adult’s convenience. Eating and sleeping should revolve, mostly, around the infants needs. Catching infants before they become over tired can help them fall asleep easier. Also, some families may find safe co-sleeping helpful in nighttime parenting.

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Born to Love and Radiate!

In Shawn Mullins’ (1999) song, Shimmer, he sings:

“Sharing with us what he knows
His shining eyes are big and blue
And all around him water flows
This world to him is new
This world to him is new
To touch a face
To kiss a smile
And new eyes see no race
The essence of a child
The essence…

He’s born to shimmer
He’s born to shine
He’s born to radiate
He’s born to live
He’s born to love but we’ll
Teach him how to hate.”

I often hear Christians say of toddlers and young children that we don’t have to teach them how to hit, kick, or bite. They are born knowing how to act “naughty.”  When Christians say this of young children, they’re referring to children’s “sinful nature.”  But, do young children really come into the world knowing how to be mean and malicious?  Based on what the Bible says and on my knowledge of child development, the answer is no!

In fact, Jesus tells us to become like little children in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and also gives us a very stern warning regarding causing them to sin!

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’  And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, ‘Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven'” (Matthew 18:1-3, ESV).

“Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:4-6, NASB).

 “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, NASB).

And look how Jesus reacts when His disciples try to keep children from being brought to Him:

“But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these'” (Mark 10:14, NASB).

You see, as the song says, we are born to shimmer and shine.  Young children are so open to God and Truth. They only act out physically when they don’t know how to verbalize to us. This has nothing to do with children being “sinful.”  Children are just learning and developing. It’s not their fault their brains are young and immature. It’s not their fault they lack verbal skills.

We are the ones, as the song says, that teach our children how to hate and stifle their lights. How?

Every time we impose our wills unnecessarily over children and treat them harshly, we’re teaching them hate and are slowly putting their lights out. Yes, most Christian parents claim they’re showing their children “love” by ignoring their cries, spanking/hitting them, and sending them to isolation. This is a form of hate.

The Bible says gentleness and compassion is true love. Harshness is not. If we want our children to truly shine, shimmer, and radiate, we need to treat them as Christ treats us.

We also need to make sure we shimmer, shine, and radiate God’s Light to all!

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NASB).

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Lead From the Front and Side

During our worship time this morning, my husband and I heard a gospel song talking about a dad who wanted to follow Jesus because his young daughter was now following him. The song made me cry as I pictured a line of Jesus, the dad, and a small girl closely following each other. Perhaps holding hands and smiling at each other as they walked along.

It hit me that so many times Christian parents try to lead their children towards Jesus and the path of righteousness from behind. They forcefully push their children down the path. They actually cause their children to veer off the path by spanking/hitting them, ignoring their cries, and sending them to isolation every time the child starts to get off the path.

Leaders can’t truly lead from behind. Their followers don’t know which way to go if they are in front of their leaders. Think how scary it would be to not know where you’re going AND every time you made a wrong turn, you got a painful punishment from your leader. Wouldn’t that scare, frustrate, and discourage you?  Wouldn’t you get angry and say, “Forget it?”  Could you even trust your leader?

I imagine that is how many children feel who are raised where their parents lead from behind.

Thankfully, our example is Jesus. He leads from the front and side. He knows when to take our hand or gently but firmly put His arm around us when we veer off course in order to get us back on track. When He is behind us, it’s simply to catch us when we fall.

Our children need us to lead from the front and side so we can gently set them back on the right path. Let us follow Jesus so that our children can follow us, thus, ultimately helping them to follow Jesus on their own one day.

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Why Talking to Infants is So Important

I taught the Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) Approach at a community college a few years ago, and they have a child development lab where early childhood college students learn how to work with young children. After one of my RIE sessions where I discussed talking to infants and toddlers before doing things with them, some of the students got to see RIE in action at the child development lab.

The infant room had just gotten a new infant. She was just 6 weeks old. *6 weeks.* I always emphasize the 6 weeks part of this story every time I tell it. You’ll see why in a moment. Anyway, the teachers in the infant room told the college students that every time someone tried to pick up this child, she’d get very startled and scream. The teachers didn’t know how to help her. The college students decided to give RIE a try.

They went to the baby, got on her level, made eye contact, and said, “Hey —–, I’m going to pick you up. Are you ready?” They held out their hands to the baby as they said this to her and waited a few moments before slowly picking her up.

Guess what?!  The baby didn’t cry!  It worked!

A 6-week-old cannot yet understand words. But they do pick up on speech innotations and body language. This is why talking to infants and toddlers is so important!

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