Thursday, March 17, 2011

Believing "in"

My oldest son said something to me the other day about what “believing in” someone really means…

In today’s world, when we talk about people whether or not they “believe in” God…we understand that to mean, “does the person believe God exists” or not.

Arwen “believed in” Aragorn…
In the end of the movie, once a relationship had begun, Roxanne “believed in” Megamind…
In shows like CSI, Criminal Minds, Bones…the characters “believe in” their partners and trust them with their lives…
Political fanatics “believe in” their favorite politician…
Sports fans “believe in” their favorite sports stars or teams…

It doesn’t have to do with believing that the object of belief “exists” or not…it has to do with a confidence in that person…

There are many verses in the Bible about “believing in” Jesus…

John 3:16 16″For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 1:12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,
John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 5:38 “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.
John 6:29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
John 6:36 “But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.

I think too often people take those verses to mean that if we believe that God exists. If we believe that Jesus lived and died on the cross. But, if you put it in the other context of believing IN Him…it takes on a whole new perspective…

What do you believe about God?
What confidence do you have in Him?
What do you expect from Him?

For example…
Do you believe God just “smote” the Japanese for their “pagan” beliefs?
Do you believe God “punished” Pennsylvania thru the deaths of those 7 kids?
Or, do you believe that those ideas are pure NONSESE!?

You can see how believing those different thing about Jesus might affect your daily life and what kind of person you’d be because of believing crazy things about Him… but what about other beliefs that you can “believe IN Jesus?”

What you believe about God will affect everything about you…about how you live…the choices you make…the way you run your business…the way you raise your children…and the way you treat others…

Ask yourself what you believe IN Jesus…what confidence do you have IN Him?

Do you “believe in Him”…that…
He will smite you when you mess up…
He has a good reason…for the pain He’s putting you thru in life because the pain came from Him?
He had your pain and suffering planned from the beginning?

OR…Do you “believe in Him”…that…
He can and will save you from all the junk in your life…
The junk in your life came from the enemy and not from Him…
He is your safe place of refuge who will forgive you and cleanse you if you make mistakes and that He does not desire to see you suffer for it?

Since we’re supposed to “raise our kids up right in the way they should go” because “when they’re old they won’t depart from it”…and…“It’s better that a millstone be tied around your neck and you get thrown into the sea than to cause a child to stumble”…then…We need to take how we “believe in” God seriously…because God will “visit (find) the sin of the fathers to the 3rd and 4th generation”…

God is good.
God is love.

That’s what we need to believe IN Him…

Some verses about “believing in Him”…
Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, ” ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, ” I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.
John 6:40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.”
John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”
John 11:25 Jesus said to her, ” I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
John 11:26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 12:44 And Jesus cried out and said, ” He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me.
John 12:46 “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
John 14:12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.
Acts 10:43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 13:39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Acts 10:43 “Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.”
Acts 13:39 and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses.
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Romans 10:10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
Romans 10:11 For the Scripture says, ” WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
1 Corinthians 13:7 (love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 John 5:1 Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him.
1 John 5:5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
1 John 5:10 The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son.

"That one is mine!" Apology accepted.

About 8 months ago my oldest daughter bought a package of princess sippy cups for my two youngest princesses. Just about the 1st time after I’d washed them once when I went to give them to the 2 girls there was an immediate protest from the one who had adopted the pink cup. She said, “No! The other lid is mine!” (meaning the darker lid). But, that just didn’t look right to me to put the dark pink lid on the dark pink cup. SO, I insisted that, “No. This is your lid!” (meaning the lighter one).


Well, the 2-year old is the one who had the green cup and she was a-ok with the darker lid so she said, “Yeah! This one is mine!” And, I thought it was, too, so I found the 5-year old’s insistence that the dark lid was hers to be very annoying. And, she didn’t give up on it. No. She kept on and on about it!

She cried.
She crossed her arms.
She insisted.
She said, “No!”
She fussed about it, kicked, and fought about it…for a few weeks…then finally let it go and accepted the light pink lid.

Well, as it turns out after years of needing sippy cups in my life, these cups proved to be the bestest ones ever! They have no “inserts” or hidden crevices to collect eewie stuff. No parts to lose. Nothing gross. And, they never spill! They’re great!

So, I decided I wanted to get another package of them before they’re no longer made…and I thought then that I’d switch the dark pink lid off of the one I’d buy and let the 5-year old have a dark pink lid, too.

Well…guess what I found out when I grabbed a new package off the shelf?

Left is the new pink sippy cup I just bought…

I was wrong. Totally wrong. She was right.

And, she was right to argue with me and to fight for the fact that she was right and being falsely accused and dismissed!

What if…when I was convinced that I was right that I’d have identified her defiant attitude as “disobedience” or as “rebellion” and had spanked her for arguing with me about the lid?!

Just IMAGINE the damage that coulda’ been done to her? It horrifies me to think of it! And, now you can’t tell me that fallible parents who use corporal punishment don’t sometimes make those errors? (How many times did I do this with my other kids before I stopped doing this?)

Just listen to the music that’s most popular with teenagers…the themes in these songs are, “grown-ups don’t understand me”, “life’s not fair”, “grown-ups don’t listen to me”…etc… Teenagers rebelling is common…but we’ve mistakenly come to believe that that means it is a normal stage of development. It is not normal. It is common because of the way we Westerners raise our kids.

On the positive side of this story…
The coolest thing happened with my 5-year old when I came home with the cups. I immediately went to her and showed her the package. I said, “Elisa…do you see what lid is on the pink cup? I was wrong. I am so sorry! Will you forgive me?”

Her reaction was so awesome! She jumped up and put her arms around my neck and gave me a tight hug and said, “I love you Mommy!” and THEN…she ran off and found Dad and told him all about what I’d just told her! It totally touched her so much!

She had been wronged and she hadn’t forgotten it…

I am thankful that I do not have the memory of myself hurting her for it…

"What goes around will come around"

(A friend sent me a video on fb today that made me think of this)

Someday…when I’m old and need help livin'…if it would happen to be my current 2-year old who’d be taking care of me…I know how she’ll take care of me: the way I’ve trained her by the way I have taken care of her…

When I’m old…my “baby” will…greet me in the morning with, “Hi! Mom! I’m so glad to see you!” and she’ll mean it…and she’ll smile at me for real…she will tell me several times a day, “I just love you so much!” and, “You’re awesome, Mom!”…she will hug me a lot and like the way that I smell…she will hold my hand when I’m unsteady…she’ll be patient with me when I spill my glass or flip my plate of food onto the floor because my coordination is not so good…she’ll smile at me and say, “Oooh kaaay!” the third time in one day that I ask for chocolate milk…and she won’t fuss at me that I only like to eat three different things she’ll just feed me what I like…she will feed me when I say I’m hungry…and if I lose my dentures she won’t scold me…and if I insist on stirring my own chocolate milk one day and spill it all over her computer she won’t hurt me for it…(she’ll take pics of the mess and post it on Facebook with her husband’s computer)

When I’m old…my daughter will leave the house sometimes without me and spend time shopping and playing with her girlfriends, but I’ll never feel like I’m a “burden” to her or that she just “needs time away from me!”…I’ll never feel like she’s embarrassed, disappointed, or ashamed of me…I’ll always feel like she loves me and misses me when she doesn’t see me for a while…

When I’m old…my daughter will answer me when I call out to her even if it’s at 3am (’cause I just wet my Depends™ and I don’t wanna sleep in it all night!)…and when I wake up in the morning then and have stinky breath, smell like pee, and have wild (blue) hair, she’ll tell me I’m beautiful and that she loves me…(and she’ll mean it)

When I’m old…my daughter will treat me like she sees me as a 200 year old “princess”!

That’s how my “baby” will treat me when I’m old ’cause that’s how I treat her now…and the Bible says that how we train our kids up “sticks”…

How will your baby treat you when you’re old?

“Do to your kids how you would want them to
do to you when you’re old!”

(Luke 6:30-32, Matt. 25, Luke 9)


Learning to skate...learning morality...

Yesterday I went to the ice skating rink with the kids again. It was our 3rd time there. My 5 year old has progressed really well and it got me thinking…

Her 1st time there she could not even stand on the ice without help and I had to literally hold her up the whole time. The 2nd time there she found a “crutch” to use to get around on the ice. They have a bunch of those orange construction-site cones (can’t think what they’re called) there and the kids can hold them and skate. It’s really helpful. Plus then the highly unskilled skaters are “marked” with an orange marker!

Well, this time, she started off right away out onto the ice with one of those cones. Then, later I noticed her standing on the ice alone and I went to her, “Do you need help?”
She smiled and told me, “no.”
She had now progressed to scooting along the outer perimeter and grabbing the wall when she’d slip. It was the cutest thing!

I followed behind her and just shadowed her for the rest of the time we were there in case she needed help and of course, I was just thinking about child training and what I was doing and what would happen to her if I did something else instead…

What if when she would fall on her skates…I would make her go have a “time-out” and sit and think about why she’d fallen.

What if when she’d fall on her skates…I’d take something from her that she likes like a privilege and tell her that as soon as she can make it the whole way around the rink without falling she can have it back?

What if when she’d fall and totally wipe out and take out another kid with her…what if I’d take her off the rink and spank her?

What would any of these techniques REALLY accomplish as far as her learning to skate?
You all know it…it would crush her. It would ruin her zeal to learn to skate. It would take all the joy out of it. It would take all the pride out of her accomplishments. And, it would cause a huge rift in our relationship.

And, I know that people who are sold out on spanking being God’s way are like, “No, it’s not the same this it totally different!” But, HOW? Doesn’t the Bible refer to us as “falling” into sin? Don’t you think of the “fall” in the garden? Sinning is when we fail at the “skill” of being moral. And, our little kids are just as wobbly and unskilled on those “shoes” as my daughter is right now on skates.

1 Tim. 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons…
1 Tim. 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
Heb. 4:11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
2 Pet. 3:17 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
1 Cor. 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
And, there are MANY OTHERS!

If I trained her to skate the same way people train their kids to be moral…she would fall (which would be humiliating enough) and then just imagine how you would feel if you were 5 and your parent took you aside and spanked you for falling? Imagine it. Don’t you feel it? Don’t you almost wanna just say, “Forget it! I’m not even gonna keep trying!” That’s rebellion. You know, there’s this “common” stereotypical thing people expect – that teenagers will rebel. It’s as tho’ it’s a normal part of development. But, I believe it’s a normal consequence of “traditional” (kid falls and you punish them) parenting. That’s why it’s so common for pastor’s and missionary’s kids to rebel. Those are the type of people you’re going to find to be most diligent in using physical force/coercion to get their kids to have moral behavior…

As I skated around with my little girl yesterday I was more solidified in the understanding as to how wrong it is to ever strike our children. Her precious little body with those tiny skates scooting along faster and faster…so focused…so joyful…so smiley…happy…proud she was! She’d once n’ a while slip and hang off the wall and she’d just look up at me with the cheesiest grin it was so sweet! And, there I was…just “ever-present” beside her…and when she fell I picked her up fast (if I didn’t catch her) or I’d catch her. I’d brush her off and comfort her. Twice she had a bad fall and she got really sad and I’d just pick her up and hold her tight for about 30 seconds and then she’d quit crying and get back to it again. I just thought the whole time about how I was “being like God” just being right there to pick her up…not offering criticisms…not punishing her for failing…just following her and watching for obstacles…ready to help her…feeling so close to her and enjoying her every tiny gain in her skills…

Training your child in any skill should be a reason to whip out your camera…should be a time when you can even get tears in your eyes as you see your child growing in whatever skill it is. But, the most important skill we’ll ever be responsible for teaching our kids is normally none of that. A parent teaching morality is normally following behind their child not to protect them (as is the Biblical rod) but to use that rod to whack their kid every time their kid messes up. Parents follow their kid in order to criticize and to punish…and when the kid falls rather than “brushing off” the effects of their “fall” and “cleaning them up”…we treat them like dogs and “rub their noses” in it, “Look at what you did!”…and there is no enjoyment in it…

We make our kids feel shame about their falling…and we make them separate themselves from everyone else and “think about what they did”…we make them “dwell on their sins”…”dwell on their mistakes” and then we wonder how they get older and can’t forgive themselves and have self hatred because they can’t get over things they’ve done wrong in the past!

The truth is just right there…right there in front of our faces every day…(Romans 1)

Once my 5 year old has the skills to skate she’s going to remember the pain that came from her own failures and the times she fell but the pain will not be remembered as coming from me. 

She’ll remember as she looks back that I was a source of safety, comfort, protection, and “salvation” from the dangers that were all around her as she learned this skill. 

Parents, your children should be able to see you that way to in the area of learning morality, because, that’s who the Bible says God is for us. And, we’re to be showing them what God is like…
Do your kids think of you with fear and know pain comes from YOU when they “fall”? Do they think that getting away from you when they fall is where they are safest? Do they see you as following behind them to catch them (in the act) when they fall so you can cause them some pain? Have you made it so that they feel like it’s safer not to even try?

Colossians 3:21
Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.

Eph. 6:4
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy…don’t continue to be robbed of the most precious, awesome, and rewarding relationship that you’re supposed to have with your kids…

Na’ar in Proverbs…what kind of child are parents to strike?

This is an excerpt from a posting I found this week that has some seriously compelling evidence against a common practice which I engaged in for 20 years…
You can go here to read the full posting this is from…

Begin excerpt: 
(the bolding was stuff that stuck out to me)

Child (Na’ar) in Proverbs
In modern day English, we use a variety of words to describe the different stages of a child’s development. The progression of terms even begins in the womb with words like “embryo”, “fetus”, and “unborn baby”. Following birth, we use “newborn”, “infant”, and “baby”, some use the word “nursling”, then comes “child”, “toddler”, and “preschooler”, and then “school-aged”, “prepubescent”, “pre-teen”, “tween”, “adolescent”, “teenager” and “young adult”. We rarely use the word “child” to describe a “teen”, except when people of ANY age tell “how many children” they have.

There is a very detailed collection of words that accurately describe the development of a child. The author of the book, Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me, compiled a list of the NINE Hebrew words that concisely describe this beautiful progression of life.

yeled (yaldah feminine) – newly born, baby
yonek – suckling, nursing child (nursing without solids, birth to approx. twelve months)
olel – still sucking, nursing, but one who is also starting to eat bread (nursing with solids, twelve months to three years)
gamul – completely weaned child (usually between the ages of three and four) [In our culture, which does not encourage extended breastfeeding, that would mean the child no longer uses bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, and thumb sucking]
taph – little children, age of closeness to one’s mother, clinging to mother (between four to six years)
elem (almah feminine) – becoming firm and strong, pre-teenagers
na’ar (narah feminine) – youth, he who shakes off, or shakes himself free, younger men and women who have yet to marry (after and including the teenage years)
bthulah – young women just immediately prior to marriage, virgin
bachur – ripened one, young warrior, marriage starts to become reality

It is significant to note that the words referring to the youngest stages, yeled, yonek, olel, taph, (as well as bthulah) are never found in Proverbs!

When we read the word “child” in the rod verses in Proverbs, we naturally assume it means child! In three of the rod verses in Proverbs, the English word we see is “child”, but the original Hebrew word is na’ar. It means the “one shook lose” and refers to the young adult or teenage years.

None of the words translated as “child/children” in the book of Proverbs actually refer to those under the age of ten or twelve. This is significant! The rod verses are NOT directed toward little children.

(Note: In the Old Testament, na’ar also very accurately described Baby Moses. To save his life, they put him in the river. Definitely “shaken off”. It is not a word that would describe a typical baby. The same word was also used for Samuel when he was weaned and taken to the temple. Again, “shaken off” and not a typical experience for a young child.)

When we look at the original Hebrew word, na’ar, we see that it means male youth, young adult. Not even taking into consideration other aspects of the verses that may be misinterpreted, have a look at these verses with this translation of the word na’ar.

Proverbs 22:15 “Foolishness [is] bound in the heart of a na’ar (teenage boy/young man); [but] the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”

Proverbs 23:13 “Withhold not correction from the na’ar (teenage boy/young man): for [if] thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die.”

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a na’ar (teenage boy/young man) left [to himself] bringeth his mother to shame.”

We believe all the parenting experts who cite the Proverbs rod verses in English as a mandate to spank young children are ignoring the actual text. (e.g. Pearl advises spanking as early as four months, Dobson at age eighteen months, etc.)

When we examine the evidence, we believe those who rely on the rod verses in Proverbs to argue that parents are Biblically mandated to spank young children, especially those under the age of ten or twelve years, are mistaken. You can’t take a word and try to make it fit another word, even if your purpose is traditional, cultural, acceptable, and legal.

The actual age of the “child” in the Proverbs rod verses is about the age when most authors and parents decide a child is too big for a spanking, at which time they have to find new ways to “discipline” the child.

When you read the book of Proverbs, you will notice that the material is targeted toward young males, certainly not babies and toddlers or even young children. The themes discussed in Proverbs are generally appropriate for only more mature adolescents and those preparing for marriage. Most of the topics found in Proverbs would not even be appropriate to discuss with small children.

End of excerpt from

You know, this is not like about “preferences”. This is our CHILDREN and someday we’re going to stand before God and answer for what we did with them…and if there is the slightest chance that hitting them is wrong…my goodness why would you even persist in going there? The “damage” that can be done if you do NOT spank is well…I have a very not-terrible 2 who has never been spanked and so I can’t see that there is any damage to NOT spanking because not spanking does not equal letting your kids do whatever they want (aka “permissive parenting”) …but there is ample documented evidence that hitting our kids hurts them.

This isn’t some attack by the devil or liberals against “Christian parenting”. For that matter Hitler woulda’ taught TO spank and I’m pretty sure that if satan had kids he’d enjoy hitting them as well…So this is no attack by the anti-Christian “left”…

This excerpt does not mention (the full article does) that the “rod” that the Proverbs would be referring to is a 5 foot tall stick used for beating off predators…So, how does God feel, I wonder, looking down from heaven seeing Christian ladies with spatulas in their hands (thinking this is a “rod”?) just going to town whacking and whacking their little ones on a private place (their butts) thinking that this is somehow “God’s way” to raise godly kids???

I know we all can’t be “perfect” parents…so we have to admit that at least once we’re going to spank our kids out of anger or because whatever they did personally offended us and not because what they did actually was “bad”…this “weapon”…the rod…is a dangerous tool that parents should leave where it belongs…in the field with shepherds beating off predators…

And, the reason I fuss about this so much is because it’s new and exciting to me…because I have to live in a world full of people beaten to obedience…I love my friends and hate that they lose some of the God-giving amazingness of their relationship with their kids because they have been taught to do this…because some parents because their senses have been dulled by hitting their kids and so it’s an easy step to begin BEATING them…and…God is the biggest loser in this. He is hurt by this and robbed of fellowship with humans because of this…and I hate when He’s hurt…

Again…go here for the full posting…

Pic I found of an ancient shepherd's rod...

Where'd you get that idea?

I wonder about something…do “you” love yourself?

Are you happy with what you see in the mirror every time you look there?

Do you speak kindly about yourself?

Do you expect the best of yourself?

Do you feel worthy of being loved?

Do you feel loveable?

Are you happy to be you?

I was just thinking about “love” again…and how people view preachers who talk about it…

It’s not uncommon to see preachers/Bible teachers who focus on the Love of God to be criticized for being “light and fluffy”…and I was thinking about this like, “Why?” If God IS Love…why wouldn’t we focus on that attribute when so clearly humans are designed to seek it out.

“There’s a God shaped hole in all of us” right? That’s about love, so, why do preachers like Joel Osteen and others get big frowny faces from people?

When you look again at the love chapter in 1 Corinthians 13…what do you see?

Love (God) is patient

Love (God)  is kind
Love (God) is not jealous
Love (God) does not brag and is not arrogant
Love (God) does not act unbecomingly
Love (God) does not seek its own
Love (God) is not provoked
Love (God) does not take into account a wrong suffered
Love (God) does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Love (God) rejoices with the truth
Love (God) bears all things
Love (God) believes all things
Love (God) hopes all things
Love (God) endures all things.
Love (God) never fails

Do “you” read that list and immediately think that something’s been left out? Do you? Do you believe that this list is incomplete? Like, if someone asked you for a description of God and said, “Oh, look I found one here!” would you tell them that that’s nice but it’s not the complete description? What I'm getting at you read this list, scoff, and say, “Well, yeah, but God is also harsh, punitive, angry, wrathful, and severe?”

Do you think that way?

I just considered this this morning and it’s really making me go, “hmmm.” 

 I had been told that a certain preacher was “light and fluffy” or something to that effect and I was unfamiliar with them so I investigated a little last week. I listened to 2 sermons of theirs online and was reading a little about them. I found one blog that talked about how evil this preacher was and had quotes from one of his books and as I read the quotes that were all supposed to be “unbiblical” and all the quotes by this preacher had to do with God being patient, loving, and kind…and I thought, “hmmm…”

It’s common for preachers who talk like this to get criticized…so why? When The Bible says GOD IS LOVE…why do preachers who talk about what God is…why do they get people upset?

I’d say 2 reasons…

1. Satan came to steal kill and destroy and wants you to not KNOW God…

2. And…I believe it’s because we apply our own experience to what the Bible says. We add to it. Like the above list, believing that it’s incomplete and needs to have “punitive, angry, severe” added to it. We bring our own experience to it...and we get that experience from our parents.

I’d be curious to see how many people who answered “yes” to all the questions in the beginning have a problem with seeing God as loving? I’d be curious to know how many people who really feel good about themselves, who love themselves and see themselves as worthy have a problem with these kinds of preachers?

You know, people who do not feel good about themselves and do not feel worthy and lovable are not comfortable when someone attempts to look them in the eye and express love to them. They must push or look away. So, is this it? Is it that when a preacher attempts to look us in the eye and express the deep infinite love of God toward us that we can’t handle it? That we’re more comfortable with the “punitive, angry” side of God?

And, where do we all get the feelings we have about ourselves? For the most part it’s ingrained in us from our 1st years of life…

Did we have moms n’ dads who treated us like we were worthy and lovable? Were our parents patient, understanding, and forgiving? Did we please them? Or, did they always expect more from us than we delivered? Did we get treated like people when we were in error or did we just get our butts whacked?

Why do we see God the way we do? Are we comfortable with looking Him in the eye and receiving that intimate not-angry love of His? If not, we need to work on it ’cause we’re being robbed!

What kind of picture are we forming of God for our children?

Is there anything in life more serious than this???


Most of us have a distorted version of “Love” because we’ve been “loved” by unloving people in our lives. Ask people what love is and they say it hurts…and that’s sad that that’s the experience we’ve had…

Most of us also, probably because of the first thing, have a distorted version of who “God” is. Ask people about Him and they believe He hurts us. “It’s all part of God’s perfect plan” they’ll say when something hurtful happens to them.

The Bible tells us what Love is…and who God is…

1 Corinthians 13 in the New Testament says the following about what LOVE is…and by extension, because the Bible says “God IS love” (1 John 4:10)…therefore God is all these things.

Love (God) is patient

Love (God)  is kind
Love (God) is not jealous
Love (God) does not brag and is not arrogant
Love (God) does not act unbecomingly
Love (God) does not seek its own
Love (God) is not provoked
Love (God) does not take into account a wrong suffered
Love (God) does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Love (God) rejoices with the truth
Love (God) bears all things
Love (God) believes all things
Love (God) hopes all things
Love (God) endures all things.
Love (God) never fails

Note: You don’t find harsh, judgmental, condemning, punishes, stern, wrathful, or angry in this list…

God’s not sitting up there on a cloud watching your every move judging you waiting to hit you with lightning bolts.

If you’ve gone thru hard times, God was not “punishing” you.

And, this is why for those of you who have been dumped on by people you love…why even tho’ your friends get mad at you for “taking them back”…this is why you do it. Because love is this way…and if you really love someone you will take them back.

Foreigner sang, “I want to know what love is! I want you to show me!”

That’s probably the cry of all our hearts…(which starts getting squashed the 1st time our moms don’t come when we cry but I’ll save that for another day)

So, God showed us what love is.

The perfect revelation of LOVE and of GOD is in Jesus Christ.
Not in the picture painted by the churchgoers who point fingers at you and tell you to “repent or burn!” Not the loud screaming preachers with dramatic southern accents. Not the picture painted of God in the stern guy with the big knees in the Chick Tracts.

If you want to know what LOVE looks like…if you want to know who GOD is…you need to look at the life of Jesus Christ who was the complete revelation of God to mankind…

Colossians 2:8-10 
 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him (Jesus) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…

Don’t be robbed of your right to know who God is…don’t be robbed of your right to choose for yourself what you think of God. If all you do is read the 1st 4 chapters of the New Testament…do just that…and look at who God is…and what LOVE looks like…and know that that love is for YOU…

God indeed has a “wrathful side”…it’s true…as do we all…but remember…

“…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1)

When we know better and choose to ignore it that’s what makes God mad. 

If you look at Jesus in the Bible…when He felt WRATH…it was not directed toward the prostitutes and tax collectors, but, toward the religious…the religious people who were such smarty pants that they weren’t friends with Jesus because their heads were so full of “religion” they couldn’t even see Jesus…God was RIGHT THERE…right there in their midst but they couldn’t even see Him because they were so full of their religion!!!

SO! Far from being “ticked off” at you and wanting to toss lightning bolts at you…check out Jesus in the 1st 4 books of the New Testament…He wants to “marry you”…’cause He’s wildly and madly in love with you…

Check it out…don’t let the angry critical religious people who you’ve known in your life hide this from you…check it out yourself…

Like the cloud formation that my daughters and I caught one day in the sky…one of us saw it and said, “Look!” and the rest of us looked. I’m telling “you” to “look”…there’s a “heart in the sky”… Judgmental religious people will want you to not “look up”…they’ll want you to look down and look at yourself and at all your flaws and tell you that you’re not good enough to see the love God has for you, but, they’re wrong. Just like this heart appeared in the sky for ANYONE to see, God’s love is open to you…and it’s way more photo-worthy than this cloud…

How do you get "in" to heaven?

(I wrote this years ago…while we were living in Guatemala)

I got a pretty good picture of this recently because have a big fence allllll around our property to keep out all the neighbor’s pigs, horses, cows, dogs, chickens etc…So now we have kids dinging our gate bell all the time wanting to come in and play on our property. And, something about “who” we let in and “why” struck me one day.

The key being that we let in people we KNOW…because the people who come to the gate and just want in to play in our yard because they think it’s neat, almost offend me. They don’t want to come play because they care about or like US but just because they want to play with our nice things.

I was imagining all the “things” people do to “get into heaven” and how truly pointless and silly they are…

For example…say I went out to the gate and there were some kids out there…doing a special dance and they said, “We’re doing the dance…now let us in!” I’d think they were crazy and definitely tell them to go away!

If there were kids chanting a certain thing over and over...“Oh! Stoltzfus family how we dig you guys and love your yard…we honor you guys ’cause you’re so good-looking and stuff…” and maybe even doing a jig with it, wearing special clothes, and burning some incense and candles saying, “And look we’re burning 1 candle for each of you!” 

And, then they’d turn to us and say, “We chanted the chant and burned stuff…now let us in!” I’d definitely think they were wacked and not let them in!! I think anyone reading this would react the same way!

And, if they did all those things so their neighbor could get into my yard I’d be like, “You guys are crazy go away! I don’t even know you or your neighbor!”

And if their reaction was to do these “things” even more fervently and more frequently, it would only strengthen my opinion of them as confused, wackos who I don’t know and definitely don’t want to let in my yard!!!

What would make the difference and let them in my yard would be if one day, one of the kids we DO know and already had a relationship with would show up with that kid and say to us, “Hi, this is Bob, he is my friend and we’d like to come in and play”. And, then, we’d let Bob in and once we got to know him, then, he could come and ding the bell, and we’d just look out and see it was him and we’d motion for him to come in. He wouldn’t have to DO anything but KNOW us to come in.


A religion misses the point…it dances outside the gate…burns candles…chants chants…wears the right clothes…just DOES all kinds of things to impress God when He’s just looking at you going, “Um, have we met?”

All He wants to do is KNOW you…and if you KNOW Him, you don’t have to “do” anything to “get into His yard and play”.

If you are involved in a church that has you “doing things” to “get to heaven” you’re missing the point. It’s not about “what you do” it’s about “WHO you know”. God is a PERSON and He is not any more impressed by religion than we would be. He will “let you into His yard” if you KNOW Him.

And, until you know Him you don’t want into the “yard” for the right reason anyway.

Do you want into heaven because you want to be WITH GOD because you LIKE HIM or because you think heaven will be this great fun place where you can “eat all the chocolate cake you want without gaining weight!” If you just want into heaven because it is the good place…that actually is an offense to God. He will let you in if you want to BE WITH HIM…not in His nice yard with His nice toys…

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ (who rings the bell at the gate) will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ (and do all kinds of goofy stuff outside the gate)

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness!”

Does God open and close doors?

Couple our “current situation” with immigration…with the very good book I just read (The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker) which was about a serial killer…and you get this “revelation”…

“Open Doors” have nothing to do with “God’s will for your life”…

If they did…then serial killers are doing God’s will ’cause sometimes they have completely totally unobjectionable “open doors” to snag their victims…for that matter…any criminal having success in what he sets out to do could take it as an “open door”…

“Closed Doors” have nothing do with “God’s will for my life” either! Or else you’d have to say that it’s not God’s will to catch serial killers…otherwise the FBI (etc.) would not find so many “closed doors” in their investigations!!!

How often do we “take the name of the Lord in vain”…and attribute things to Him that aren’t Him at all???? Where did this view of God “opening and closing doors” even come from and where has it led to????

Something worth thinkin’ about…

Teaching empathy to your baby

The traditional way of raising babies is really like used toilet paper…it should be flushed away and never used again…

There are so many wrong aspects of it!!!

One thing I just thought of…is “empathy”…

Most moms think it’s ok and even good for a baby to leave them to cry. Especially at night. Those kids need to “learn to sleep!” They need to “learn to soothe themselves”. And, while I could go on for hours about the spiritual, physical, and emotional damage this does to kids…I wanna focus on one small thought…"cause and effect”…

Baby can learn when they cry at 3am and mom “sleep trains” them and does not respond…

…when they cry nothing happens…

…that sometimes their cries don’t matter; maybe whatever they’re crying about doesn’t matter…
…that they are on their own…
…the only one who is always there for them is “themselves”…

The baby’s “cause” = “no effect”!

Baby can learn when they cry at 3am and groggy mom comes staggering in and tends to them lovingly…

…that mom always will come…

…that what bothers them matters to others and must be valid; they can trust themselves…
…that when they cry that they can change their world…
…that loving others means that you’re always there even when it’s not convenient for you…

The baby’s “cause” = the “effect” of seeing a person who has been ill-effected by the cry and yet has come to their assistance and loves them anyway and cares about and helps them with their problem!

What a beautiful lesson for a baby…to cry…and have mom there by their side…all groggy and tired…but loving them. 

What a beautiful example of love..

The baby will learn the “cause and effect” of their cries that they can change the world they live in…and that their cries sometimes can effect others in a negative way and they will over time learn to have compassion and empathy on others and they will learn when to “cry out” and when to “wait” till a more convenient time for others…

“Greater love has no one than this…than a mom drag herself outta’ her bed for her baby!” 



(Of course, the baby should just be in bed with mom…but…that’s another post)

How not to introduce Christ!

I was just reading…actually (as opposed to just thinking)…Ted Dekker’s “Bride Collector”…and in an exchange between the wack-job and the good-guy FBI agent…the dialogue…combined with a pamphlet a well-meaning Christian had given a friend of mine this week…made something “click”…and now I’m clicking about it…

What really gets me is that all of this stuff is just so stinkin’ obvious! Why! Why did I not notice this before!? All of us have fallen prey to the urge to introduce our single friends to people we feel would make them a good mate. We all get that “matchmaking” urge and some of us have even been “matchmade”! And, some maybe wish that someone WOULD introduce them to someone we could fall in love with. So, we all have had some kind of experience with this “concept”!

OK…”We” are the “Bride of Christ”…right?

God is love and loves us and desires to live with us in heaven for all eternity.

“Your sins have made a separation between you and your God” Isaiah something…(We n’ God…we’re “broke up”)

Jesus came to save us from our sins…so that we an be reconciled with God.

“He has given us the ministry of reconciliation”…2 Cor. something…(God wants to get back together with us!)

THAT MEANS that God wants us to “matchmake." He wants to be introduced to the world so that He can enter into the most intimate of all relationships in the universe a human can enter into with Him!

It’s all about “hookin’ up”…

We the Bride…hookin’ up up with the Bridegroom…the Prince…Jesus…

So, how…in the literal world…do we “Hook up”?
How do we “fall in love”?

Imagine you’re single…and “A prince” is attempting to “hook up” with you…because he wants you for his bride…he wants to enter into the most intimate of all relationships with you and live with you forever!

Now…Imagine this approach…

Some random guy Steve comes over to talk to you. You’ve never met Steve before or maybe you just don’t know him well at all. Either will suit. Steve tells you, “My friend, Bob, he’s in love with you.”
“Oh?” you reply, weirded out, “I don’t know this Bob guy. How can he be in love with me?”
“He’s had his eye on you for years now.” Steve winks.
“Ohhh kaaaay…” you reply weirded out yet more.
“Really, he’s totally in love with you. He’d give his life to be with you.”
Your brow furrows and you begin to think Steve’s off his rocker.
“Only trouble is, is you.” Steve says glumly.
“Me?” you wonder if this conversation is worth continuing? Where is your cell phone in case you need 911?
“Yeah. He can’t be with you because you, well, ever since you were born you’ve been offensive to him. You have offended him countless times. In fact, you pretty much live a life of offense and he can’t really have that in his home.”
“Oh…ohhh kay…I thought you said he was like, in love with me?”
“Well, he is! He is! He’d die for you! But, yes, everything about you, the way you live, you offend him and…disgust him.”
“I disgust him?”
“With the way you live, yes. So much so that, well, frankly he can’t even look at you.”
You check and yes, your cell phone is handy. You look at it as tho’ checking for text messages. God help you.
“He doesn’t like that thing, either.” Steve says looking sorta’ prudish.
Puzzled, you ask, “What thing? My cell phone?”
“No. He disapproves of electronic things. And, while I’m at it I suppose I should point out that he doesn’t like how you do your hair, and he’s ESPECIALLY offended by those piercings you have.”
“So, I’ve never met this, this, Bob character…but…he’s in love with me, but, can’t even look at me because I’m so offensive and disgusting.” you’re trying to make sense of this but it’s not happening.
“Yes!” Steve says almost beaming. Steve is excited because it seems like you’re getting it, then adds. “He also is really offended by your clothing.”
“What?” you look down at your clothes, “I spent a lot of money on these clothes! They’re from a very expensive store! I worked hard to buy this stuff!”
Steve just sits there shaking his head sorta’ in a smug way as if to say, “Sorry lady, it’s gotta go!”
You’ve had enough! “Well, I think I probably need to get going, Steve…”
“No! Wait! See, you can still get married to Bob if you just, you know, stop being, well, you, and apologize to him for all the offensive things you’ve done to him!”
“I’ve never even met him!” you say.
“It doesn’t matter. You still have offended him and owe him an apology. He will need to ‘chastise’ you so to speak also. He’s a really great guy you just gotta hook up with him, really!”
“Wait! Wait!” you put your hand up in the air, “Chastise me?”
“Well, yes. If he loves you he’ll put a good hurtin’ on ya once n’ a while if you get out of line or offend him again.”
“Uh, huh. OK.” you scratch your head. “So, he’s in love with me, I need to hook up with him, and he would die for me but before he’ll even look at me, I have to apologize to him for offending him and basically stop being me? And, once we’re together sometimes he’ll give me a good whackin’ to set me straight on things?”
“Yes! Isn’t this good news? He loves you so much he’s willing to forgive you for all the things that you have done to offend him and the things you do that make him sick! And, because he truly loves you he’ll hurt you once in a while to make sure you don’t offend him!”
You start thinking about all the things that make you “you”. You start thinking about the things you like and the people you know, and, hey! You recycle! You have even adopted a cat from the SPCA! You shoveled the old widow lady’s driveway last winter once, even! What is it that this “Bob” finds so…offensive and disgusting about your life?
“These things,” you shake your head in bewilderment, “that I have been doing since I was born…have offended him?”
“Yes! Exactly!” Steve is just radiant. He can’t wait to tell all his friends about how he got to talk to you about this!
“Like, when I was born, he didn’t like it that I, what? Pooped my diaper?”
“Well, I can’t really explain that, I don’t really understand that, but, just what you need to focus on is that Bob loves you and wants to marry you! And, all you have to do is give up being who you have always been and he’ll find you acceptable enough to marry then and you’ll know he truly loves you because he’ll hurt you when you do wrong things! And, once you’re in this relationship you can never get out of it! Isn’t this great!”
You just look at him in a little bit of stunned silence.
“Oh, and I guess I should mention that if you don’t do this, he’ll kill you.”
“Kill me!?” your eyes almost pop out.
“Well, not so much kill as torture for the rest of your life, with all the other girls who have declined his offer.” Steve smiles. Steve is so excited that you really seem to be getting it.
Now you know Steve’s wacked and all you really wanna do is get far far away from Steve and you hope you never have a run-in with this “Bob” guy, if he even actually exists! “Steve, how do you know this?” you ask.
“I read it in this book! Here!” he proudly holds up a 5 pound book with many worn pages. “You should read a copy! I read mine EVERY DAY!”
“Yeahhhh…well…Thanks for sharing with me, uh, Steve, but, I need to run, I mean, go now…” You politely thank Steve for the information and leave quickly and are convinced that Steve needs meds and you think that perhaps a restraining order is in order.

So…do YOU want to hook up with Bob? Do you want to read Steve’s book? Do you believe such a weird man as Bob could really even be real???

Really, church! You could argue some of my points but, come on. We tell people “The Good News” that Jesus loves them by telling them that they’ve offended God since birth just by the fact that they are born human…that the way they are now, how they live, the music they’ve grown up with, their friends, their political beliefs, their EVERYTHING offends Him and that He can’t even look at them ’cause He can’t look upon sin…and that if they don’t apologize for all this that He will destroy them forever in torment in Hell!!! That’s what we tell the world no matter how “softly”or “wisely” we try to put it THAT is how we introduce the most awesome loving beautiful Being in the world to people!!?

This isn't even the way we introduce our friends to imperfect people they’d want to enter into a marriage relationship with... 

Do we have a single friend and find a single possible mate and go up to them and tell them all the person’s worst qualities?
Do we look at a potential mate and think, “Oh, well, she’d be great if only she weren’t like this or like that”…and then open the introduction with telling that person that if they changed “this or that” that your friend would be interested in them???

What’s the best way actually to introduce people? Blind dates? No! An actual introduction!

So then, how do we introduce people to God actually?

We are His hands and feet…

We serve…
We love…
We “feed His sheep”…

Do these “harder” aspects of the relationship have any place ever? Of course they do! I’m sure some of you more “religious” people would think I’ve gone off to “Light and Fluffy-ville” or something, but, come on! Romans 1 says the truth is evident everywhere! The way we’ve been created tells us the truth! And, you would NEVER introduce two HUMANS the way we introduce Jesus to people!

You know, you didn’t ask your current mate to wipe your bottom on your first date, did you? (That’d be an interesting story if you did!) Someday that may be part of your relationship and it won’t send them running in fear because you will have built up to that. After the introduction in a relationship, the entire relationship is about learning about the other person…what they like and what they don’t like, and if you LOVE them you will be making adaptations the rest of your life OUT OF LOVE for them…not out of fear…The hard truths about the relationship need to come after a relationship is there. After there is some love.

Getting straight to the hard serious stuff or getting too intimate on the 1st sometimes called rape and is unwelcome and not enjoyed by most women and therefore is unlawful in most countries.

Church think about HOW you would LITERALLY introduce a man you highly esteem to a woman you’d like to see take interest in him…just think about how you’d do that…Or, think about how YOU would want to be introduced if you were seeking a mate…and start introducing Christ to people THAT WAY… 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...