The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

RELATIONSHIP: Glorious kids

Are kids cute?
Or are they glorious?
Puppies are cute, kittens are cute.
Children are glorious.
They are made in God’s image.

Last week, Patricia and I were in the dentist’s office. A mom was there with two small kids. Apparently, she did not know what to do with them, because she picked up a magazine and read, ignoring them. They explored the room, interrupting her reading occasionally. They were left alone even when with their mom.
No directions, no corrections.
On their own. All alone. Mom was “gone.”

I believe that the image of God should affect the way we raise our kids in two distinct ways.

First, it should influence our view of them, their value, and their worth. When you are with your children, BE WITH THEM. Read to them, talk with them, observe them.
It will affect how we treat them. Jesus said, “What you do to the least of these, you do it to Me.” “If you offend one of these little ones, it would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be thrown into the sea.” We are talking about their personhood, this connection to the eternal Person that gives them value. . . and merits our attention.
John Eldredge in his little book Epic says, “We have talked so much about original sin that we have left out the truth about ‘original glory.’” This is why the long “begat” passages in the Bible are there. They call us to remember that our original father Adam was a son of God. Jesus came to restore us to the Father as his sons.

Secondly, recognizing that our children are made in the image of God will cause us to raise them for a higher purpose. I think of the Jewish mother who was so proud of her twin boys; even as she pushed them around in their stroller, she would introduce them as the doctor and the lawyer. She caught a big vision for them early.
So must we. We must see our little ones coming into adulthood. As we raise them and protect their years of play and childhood exploration, we keep the end in mind. We watch for their gifting, their inclinations, their strengths, their weaknesses. As they enter the teen years, we guide them along the adventurous path of discovering life purpose. We intentionally connect them to other adults who can help guide them toward a whole and blessed lifestyle.
We enjoy their present looking toward their future. This is one of the most satisfying parts of parenting, this joint journey of discovering who this person is that you gave life to. It is also why discipline and training is so important; we move them along the track of God’s purpose.

Last week we learned this: we manage our homes with godly dignity because we are made in God’s image.
Today we see two things about our children:
We nurture the glorious image of God that lies hidden within them, and
We train them toward God’s purpose and glory (best defined by the likeness of Christ, entering into becoming his brother: Romans 8:28-29)

That “cute little thing” you are raising has glory in his DNA. That teen that is struggling to become his own person needs you to help him see the glory he is created for.
Glory in the beginning, glory in the future.
We are made by Him and for Him.

Have a glorious day!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

RELATIONSHIP: We are raising children, not flowers!

I remember reading a story about a dad who had a green thumb; you know, one of those guys who can grow anything in his garden, making it beautiful. He took great pride in his gift and he should have. He also had a loving wife who appreciated his gift and a ten-year-old son who was . . . well . . . a ten-year-old son.

On this particular Saturday, the dad was passing on his gift to his son on how to care for the yard. We call it mowing the grass. For several Saturdays the son had ridden with the dad on the riding lawn mower as dad carefully allowed the young boy to steer the mower. But today, today was his solo run. Driving the mower solo for the first time was big for this ten-year-old because . . . well . . . he was ten years old. He had learned his lessons well. As dad supervised from the front porch, the young protégé made his dad proud: focused and attentive.

It was at that moment that mom stepped on the front porch to see how things were going and to ask if anyone needed refreshment. Dad bragged and the ten-year-old waved, proud as a peacock. That moment of distraction was unfortunate, for the inexperienced driver ran the mower right through the center of a previously gorgeous bed of spring flowers.

For a moment time stood still: the ten-year-old braked and looked up in horror; dad lost his color; and mom, the distraction, laughed. Then she leaned toward her husband’s ear and said, “Remember, dear, we are raising a child, not flowers.”

This mom got it right. The value of the child is far greater than the value of a bed of flowers, or the worth of a perfectly ordered room, or any other personal preference we might have.

Here’s what we must remember. God made people in His image. That includes us. That includes our children.

Let’s start with us. 1 Timothy 3: 4 “He (an overseer) must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity.” Those last three words (with all dignity) create a challenge for us. Learning to keep our dignity as we control our children calls us to the standard of being in God’s image, representing God the Father in what we do as parents. Controlling our reactions, choosing our words, governing our tone of voice: these things add up to communicate who we are, and who God is, to our children.

The clearest picture we have of what God the Father wants us to be like is Jesus. He is the “exact representation of the Father’s nature.” (Heb. 1:3) I encourage you to prayerfully read the book of Luke with the idea of seeing how Jesus “fathered” the disciples. He is the source of our dignity. Read the gospels as a parent who wants to “catch the spirit of Christ.”

Now let’s get to the kids. Jesus respected kids. He made room for them. He did not let them lead, but he did not push them aside. He did not let them direct his schedule, but he made them a part of his schedule. He gave them his attention in the same way that he gave adults his attention. He embraced them.

Remembering that our children are made in God’s image will help us to lead them with God in mind.

We’ll have to pick up on this next week.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

SPIRIT TRAINING: Stop everything!

The most important thing you are doing is training your children. The hardest thing you do is to stop what you are usually doing and take the time to train your children.

Let me give you an example. You are getting ready for church, and you like to be on time. You have already dressed the kids, and you are putting the finishing touches on your own gorgeous self. You had asked little Tammy to clear the table and Matt to take out the garbage. When you walk out of your room, they are watching TV in the living room. The garbage is not out and the table is not clear.

#1 You lose it. Glancing at the clock, you know that time has caught you again. “GET IN THE CAR. . . NOW!” you shout. You shut off the TV, they run out the door, you follow them like the grisly troll from Billy Goats Gruff. You jump in the car. You start the engine and your motor mouth at the same time. The ride to church is a lecture on obedience, punctuality, and consequences when you get back home. You arrive at church two minutes late and imagine that Jesus is standing at the door, looking at his watch and tapping his foot.

#2 You don’t say a word. You take out the garbage, you clear the table, you grab your Bible and gather everyone in the car. You wonder what you are doing wrong, you resent the kids in that moment, you silently lecture yourself, you think thoughts that you don’t dare say out loud. Meanwhile, the kids are wondering what you are thinking while they exchange smirks. You arrive late . . . again.

#3 #4 and #5 are not good options either; we have tried them all.

What we did discover is that training our children comes first. We learned to stop everything and get our lives straight and our relationships straight as first priority. This is a training moment. Why not put God’s truth into practice instead of rushing to church to learn God’s truth so that we can supposedly put it into practice. See the difference?

Dealing with the character issues in your children as they occur cannot be overrated. What would we have done? We would have taken the children to our room, helped them see their disobedience, one spank, ask forgiveness, prayer, back to the jobs to see them completed, hugs and restoration, then out the door to church. (If you are the Sunday school teacher, call someone to handle the opening for you. If you are the pastor, simply explain that you had to put your family first. You train your children and your congregation). If you make training your children this important, your kids will get the message.

I am not talking about stopping everything so that your kids can get what they want; I am talking about stopping everything to train them.

If you will be late for a situation that your child wants to go to, it becomes easier. Here you can use the logical consequence of just waiting him out until he does his job. No fuss, no harsh words, just wait. Example: it’s his ballgame. He says, “It’s time to go; let’s go.” You wait; you might ask, “Is the trash out?” You just don’t move until the responsibility is done. Then you go. Dr. Kevin Leman explains it this way: “B does not happen until A is completed.” That puts the authority back with the parent, where it belongs. And it puts the obedience burden on the children. “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right; you will live a long life and things will go well with you.”

Train your children. It is the most important thing you can do on earth.