The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

SPIRIT TRAINING: The Strength of Waiting

“I just can’t wait.”

Have your kids ever said that before? As parents, our best answer to that might be, “Yes, you can.”

“They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Isaiah 40:31)

Wait on the Lord and be of good courage; and he will strengthen your heart.” (Ps. 27:14)

Strength comes when we wait. What better gift than strength can you give your children? And strength often comes wrapped in waiting. It is a gift of character. It is a facet of self-denial that allows us to follow Christ.

As people we want God to use a clock and a calendar, but God doesn’t. He uses fulfillment, maturity, ripeness, readiness, fitness, appropriateness. A major weakness of our humanity is that we want to shortcut time. We just can’t wait.

The society that we live in is a society of pushing limits. Parents take pride in the fact that their four-year-old can read, or hit a homerun in T-ball, or sing like Celine Dion. In the minds of many parents today, “early is always better.” But it may not be. Perhaps waiting is better than trying to microwave our kids.

At this time of year, we have a small opportunity to instill this strength in a son or daughter. We can insist that she wait to open a gift; and waiting builds strength of character. By itself, the wait for a gift might not be much; but as one building block added to others, it can help strengthen her character. Learning to wait is vital.

Scripture teaches us that if we are faithful in little, we will be faithful in much. As we teach our children to wait in small things, they gain strength for things that matter much more. Waiting to open a gift. Waiting until after the blessing to begin to eat. Waiting for the lifeguard at the pool. Waiting instead of buying on credit. Waiting until marriage to become sexually intimate. Waiting—and growing stronger.

Stan and Dancie have a beautiful daughter that is lively and alert. That pregnancy for them was very normal. Their second pregnancy did not go so well. The baby was born prematurely because of a rare medical condition. He did not survive his first day.

The third pregnancy was full of hope, but after fourteen weeks proved to look like a repeat of the second. The same medical condition required that Dancie stay in bedrest for the remainder of the pregnancy. She could not do any normal activities. She had to stay either seated or in bed. Meanwhile, doctors’ visits were full of endless pricks, pokes, tests, and needles. The prognosis was not good. The goal was to make 28 weeks. Then it became 32, then 35, and miraculously full-term. Dancie’s courage during that time was incredible. She said, “Every needle that I take is one that my child does not have to take.”

In the middle of this long process, Stan said, “Usually we pray that our pain will end quickly. But in this case, we are praying that our pain will last as long as possible, because we know that the baby is forming inside and growing stronger.” His prayers were answered.

What is God forming in us? What is he forming in our children when we teach them to wait? Waiting makes them stronger.

Wait . . . and see!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

SPIRIT TRAINING: Unwrapping the Christmas Gift

Can you think of any more delightful moments in a child’s life than Christmas? Decorations and trees and lights. Special foods. Gathering of families. The anticipation of Christmas morning. The joyful sounds of laughter, the irrepressible squeals of delight. Sparkling eyes. Bouncing excitement. What is it about Christmas that causes this unmatched display of happiness?

Gifts. No, not just gifts. Christmas gifts!

Christmas gifts are mysteries—wrapped up mysteries. Those mysteries often are placed under a tree where they tantalize the imaginations of those who hope to open them on Christmas morn. The giving and receiving of gifts is enhanced by this mysterious element of seeing but not knowing.

I remember, when I thought no one was looking, I would pick up presents and shake them, listening for a clue as to what might be inside. I was irresistibly drawn to the tree and to its papered mysteries. When the morning of unveiling came, the electricity in the atmosphere was almost unbearable. It was the morning when the many mysteries were opened for all to see. Why did this unveiling of wrapped mysteries capture my heart and soul so powerfully?

It reflects God’s kind of giving. And the excitement is a godly excitement.

Yet it seems that the excitement is short-lived and, in some ways, disappointing. The reality is never quite as wonderful as we had hoped. The toys break, the batteries die, our interest wanes, and each Christmas becomes passé; and we toss it away like so much wrapping paper. Then the next year, we do it all again.

Perhaps the Christmas holiday is a “wrapping” of sorts that hides a mysterious gift. Perhaps it is that deep mystery that creates the excitement that all of us experience, even as adults. Perhaps we need to open this Christmas Gift and discover with our families this mystery that is Jesus.

Jesus is God’s eternal plan. He is the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. He is God’s intervention in time; and he came for a broken humanity to bring life and newness. He is the One who will unroll the heavens like a curtain and reveal himself fully at the end of time.

He is the mystery beneath the wrappings of our holiday. Perhaps all of us need to be more intentional about unwrapping Jesus when we are with our families. I suggest the following verse as a focus for us this Christmas.

Colossians 2:2-3 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

How do we unwrap Jesus for our families at Christmas? We slow down and stop for him. Simple and basic things are mature things; allow them to work in your family. Taking the time to extract the gift of Jesus from the trappings of our modern holiday will yield a deeper satisfaction in all of us. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Read parts of the story: Luke 1-2 and Matthew 1:18-2:23.

2. Sing a carol, or sing many carols.

3. Dad, lead the family in prayer, praying that each one will know the reality of Jesus.

4. Do something as a family outside the home: sing carols to your neighbors, feed the hungry, take a Christmas meal to someone, share your laughter by inviting someone to your home.

5. Join other believers in a worshipful gathering.

After all, what is it that we want to give our kids at Christmas? What do we really want them to discover, to unwrap, and to carry with them? Is it not Jesus? All the other gifts point to him, because he is the Gift that does not disappoint. His joy is not short-lived. And when we enter into his reality, we will never stop being filled with wonder. He is what the “Christ morning” is all about. Let’s wake up to him.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


A composite of research findings (Baumeister, 1993) described that people of low self-esteem have these tendencies: confused about themselves, uncertain, submitting readily to other people’s influence, and lacking in self-confidence. Not exactly what we want for our kids.

A later review of literature (Baumeister, Smart, and Boden, 1996) linked high self-esteem to violence. “Murderers, rapists, wife-beaters. . .and other categories of violent people are all marked by strongly held views of their own superiority.” The highest self-esteem scores come from people in prison. They appear to have no respect for anyone else. Obviously, we don’t want this for our kids either.

It seems that low self-esteem is bad for the self, and high self-esteem is linked to treating others badly, even leading to violence. What do we want for our kids? At the risk of sounding “religious,” let’s try instilling in our children a high esteem for God.

Ephesians 4:18 (The Message)

They’ve refused for so long to deal with God

that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself.

They can’t think straight anymore.

Respect God; respect others. Love God; love others. It is a trickle-down of reality that affects all relationships. The Spirit of God causes us to love others; it is that simple.

Centering on self is always a problem, a sin. When we are overly concerned about how our kids feel about themselves, we encourage them to sin. We forfeit the most important truth that ties them to reality and wholeness: how they relate to God. Created in His image, adopted into his family, we are called to lay down our lives for the benefit of others.

Raising our children with an awareness of others is crucial. Respect and value for others comes from God. Jesus said, "As you have done to the least, you have done to me."

People who esteem God above themselves have changed the world. They have brought wholeness into broken cultures, built hospitals, and introduced education.

Our main goal as parents is to teach our children to deny themselves, take up their crosses and follow Jesus. As we train our children to lay aside their own desires in order to do the will of God, we create a better world. An unselfish world. A blessed world.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SPIRIT TRAINING: Good choice/bad choice: God choice/no choice

Do you teach your children that they can make good choices or bad choices? If you do, I encourage you to reconsider that question. Let me explain.

What makes a good choice? What makes a bad choice? I have heard it explained this way: “A good choice is good for you. A bad choice is bad for you.” Does that mean that a good choice makes you feel good and a bad choice makes you feel bad? Would smoking pot be a good choice?

Does it mean that a good choice helps you and a bad choice hurts you? Maybe lying saves you from a spanking—good choice or bad choice? Maybe cheating helps you pass a test—good choice or bad choice?

What do you mean when you say good?

Isaiah 5:20-21 “ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.” In our own generation, as in Isaiah’s time, people use these terms to suit their own ends.

How we explain good and evil or good and bad makes a difference. If we allow our culture to tell us good from bad, we might end up choosing what is good in the moment but bad in the long run. What if it is good for me but bad for everyone else? I remember taking one of my kids to a birthday party when he was small. The little honoree wanted everything. He wanted the gifts, he wanted the prizes in every game, he wanted all the favors. Good choice? He thought so.

This is important because we parents teach our children what “good” means. At the risk of being overly simple, here’s what I recommend that you teach your children:

Deut. 30:19-20

“I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses.

Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and

that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.

For the LORD is your life. . .”

The Lord is good. What pleases him is good. His ways are good. He is what life is all about. He is life.

So we need to train our children to ask themselves this question: Does God say this is a good choice? Is this what he wants? Will Jesus be pleased? We can train them to make Jesus and his word the standard. We train them to think that way by asking them that question and by exposing them to his word regularly. There really is no other choice; to choose God is to choose life. The alternative is death, and that’s no choice at all.

Having said this, I don’t recommend that you ask this question “immediately” in every situation. First, listen and get the facts. Probe with questions to try to understand what was in the heart of your child, perhaps acknowledging her feelings. In other words, demonstrate your care and love first. Then your target question is the one that moves her and you toward God. When we choose Him, we choose life. There is no good apart from Him.

“Now choose life so that you and your children may live.”