The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

INTEGRITY: Representing God

“Mom, you are God.”

It was Patrick (Patch) when he was about three. Patricia, pregnant with William, was a “stay-at-home mom” with Anna and Patch. She ran Patch’s world and he stated the obvious.

Patricia, on the other hand, was aghast. She denied it, stopped everything and took some time to explain to him who God really was. Without being deterred in his opinion, he ended the conversation by saying, “No, you are God.” Then he went back to playing, theology discussion over for the day.

Patch was pretty close to right in this sense: PARENTS REPRESENT GOD TO THEIR CHILDREN. It is just the way that God set things up. His little mind could not yet grasp the eternal, infinite, all-powerful Creator/Redeemer. (To be honest, my little mind still has trouble grasping who God is.) What he could see and understand was a parent who loved him, cared for him, and ordered his life.

So we ask this question: If we represent God to our children, what God are we representing? A key scripture that called us higher was Exodus 34:6-7.

"The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished. . .”

Here’s what we discovered in this passage.

Compassionate: the root word means “to touch.” Touch your children, hug them, kiss them.

Gracious: the root word means “to bend down.” As God came down to us in Christ, so we must learn as parents to get to their eye level. Play with them in the floor, speak with them eye to eye.

Slow to anger: that means slow to anger. Go figure. It doesn’t mean that we are never angry; it just means that we are patient in the learning process with these entrusted to us by our Father.

Abounding in love and faithfulness: the root of abounding has to do with quantity and time. Love and faithfulness cannot be wrapped in a package and given on a birthday. They are demonstrated by our daily investment of time.

Maintaining love to thousands: the root of maintaining is the idea of guarding and protecting. As our children grow, our love can often be best shown by using the word “No” to protect them. Establish boundaries that protect.

Forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin: the root of forgiving is a powerful word that means to accept, to carry, to help, to pardon, to receive, to hold up. We took out of this the idea that forgiveness needs to be expressed and demonstrated, not just said. Make your forgiveness real by showing it. When they did wrong, we taught them to ask for forgiveness and then we showed them that we really did forgive and that our relationship was restored.

He does not leave the guilty unpunished: the root verb really means to visit, to engage, to get involved. You can’t ignore guilt. We can’t let our children live with it; it is a real thing. Punishment for guilt is a step to closure for wrong-doing. It teaches a child that he is responsible. Helping him deal with guilt gives him a new start. Who wouldn’t want that for his children?

As we represent God to our children, let’s keep in mind how God does things. We think that the list above got us going in the right direction. It also made us pray, asking God for his help and for his own nature to be in us.

You represent God to your children.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

DISCIPLINE: Setting the pace

In Genesis 32, Jacob has an incredible experience that ends at daybreak with Jacob wrestling with an angel. He is seeking the blessing of God. The angel changes his name from Jacob (deceiver) to Israel (prince of God). Only a few hours later in Genesis 33, he is to be reunited with Esau his brother who had threatened to kill him twenty years before. Esau is ready to get on down the road, have a feast, catch up on things, but Jacob (Israel) says, “. . . let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I move along slowly at the pace . . .of the children, until I come to my lord in Seir.”


Too often we are living at an incredible rate of speed and insisting that the children keep up with us. In his journeys, in his trials, in his relationships, Jacob learned something about the importance of the family and of caring for the children. Perhaps after wrestling with the angel all night, seeking the blessing of God, he saw with new eyes. When he made things right with God, he saw his family in a whole new way. On his list of blessings, his family and children moved to the top. His priorities changed because he had changed.

It’s like he said to Esau, “We’ll be slower but we will get there. I’ll come along with my family.”

A child’s pace is different from our adult pace. Take a walk with one of your children and notice what he notices. You will go more slowly, stop more often, and see a different world.

As adults, we are the administrators of our home. We make decisions, plan schedules, carry out commitments. Are we aware of the fact that we are pulling and dragging our children along? Are we making decisions based on their good, not our own abilities?

I remember this past Christmas being in “Tuesday Morning” at about 5:30 on a Thursday evening. (Keith says that it is impossible to be in Tuesday Morning on a Thursday. Male humor ?) There was a sweet little working mom in the store buying Christmas gifts.

Obviously, by her conversation, she was at the end of her own emotional rope. Her three-year-old girl had been in day care all day and was obviously stresssssssed. I know what the mom was doing….just getting “one more thing”. I have done that exact thing! If she could have reversed her decision, she probably would have. Everyone in the store knew that the little girl was unhappy and hungry. As Keith would say in his Tennessee dialect, her little girl was “tellin’ it.” Everyone also knew that the mom was unhappy and upset. And . . . it was Christmastime.

Children have limits; as adults, we have to adapt to their pace whenever we can.

Eat together at home. Stay around the table and talk.

Take a walk with your children.

Have a family time once a week.

God’s blessing on our families will mean living with a different pace from the world around us. Let’s make our families our priority. If we don’t, the life-destroying busyness of the world will suck up our families, our lives, and our joy. This is a wrestling match we must win.

Family is non-negotiable.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

LONG-RANGE VISION: Work and the extra effort

Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac. He wanted a wife from his own people because of shared values; he wanted the same kind of person for his son that he had found in Sarah. He sent his most trusted servant to get the job done. The servant prayed to the God of Abraham and asked for success on his journey. As he prayed, he laid out a plan to find the right kind of person for his master’s son. The story is told in Genesis 24. Make sure that you read it yourself; insights abound in this story.

The servant prayed for a woman that would demonstrate an attitude of service that would be unselfish, willing, and beyond the expected. In short, he prayed that she would get water for him but that she would voluntarily get water for his camels also. Can you picture this in your mind? How much water do camels drink? How long did it take her to do this voluntary labor? Was the servant impressed? You bet!

Abraham did not tell the servant this but the servant knew Abraham’s heart. He wasn’t just after a relative—He had seen Lot’s choices earlier—He was after a certain type of person. He was looking for someone who had learned the joys of serving, of hospitality, of work. He found her in Rebekah.

Where did Rebekah learn this stuff? At home, in the family, from her earliest days. She did not get this at a seminar. She grew up with this modeled for her in the family. She saw it in the hearts of her parents, uncles, and aunts. She caught it. I am also quite sure that she was taught it. The ways of the people of the Middle East are passed down intentionally. I have seen it first-hand with my own father-in-law.

Getting to know him was one of the enriching episodes of my life. Listening to his perspective, puzzling with his sense of humor, seeing his desire as a father to pass on his values to his kids and grandkids. Patricia has told me how he would train her in hospitality, in gift-giving, in conversation, in serving. I have seen him laugh as he tried to teach my own kids, his grandchildren, how to snap your fingers the Arab way. He was always teaching: fruit trees, real estate, family.

I have been blessed like Isaac was blessed; I have received a wife who carries within her timeless values of serving and work and hospitality. In turn, I have watched and learned as she has taught our children the things her dad taught her.

Abraham was called to be a blessing to the whole earth through his descendants. His servant knew that a selfish wife for Isaac would be out of alignment with God’s plan. May we train our children to work and to serve by going beyond the expected. This value of blessing over and beyond the norm is at the heart of God.

As parents today, let’s catch it ourselves, model it, and pass it on. By doing this, we will be blessing countless peoples for generations to come. . . like Rebekah . . . and like Abraham. . . and like Jesus.

If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.

Matthew 5:41


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

INTEGRITY: First things First

As Judith neared her fourth birthday, she became feverish and lethargic. We took her to the doctor on Tuesday. He didn’t seem overly concerned, and we went home. Wednesday was a little worse; but on Thursday, her birthday, she seemed better. We had a little party.

Friday, she was worse again; and Saturday, her color was gray. We spent most of that day in the emergency room trying to find out what was going on. Again, they could find nothing out of the ordinary and were ready to send us home when another doctor was brought in for his opinion. He recommended a spinal tap, explained how it worked, and proceeded with our permission. In short, Judith was at death’s door with spinal meningitis. Admitted immediately, she spent the next ten days in the hospital fighting for her life. I spent the next few days crying for God’s mercy and coming face to face with this truth: Judith did not belong to me; she belonged to God. I had to answer this question within my own heart, “Will I trust God even if she dies?”

Sometime in that few days, I gave Judith to the Lord. Mercifully, He gave her back to us.

A few years later, my oldest daughter was leaving to live in Costa Rica. As we were worshipping at a conference, we were singing “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” When we reached that part that says, “He gives and takes away,” I sensed God asking me if I would trust him with Anna. I confessed that she belonged to him . . . and wept.

God is a jealous God,

And he will not allow us to worship our kids.

Gen. 22:1 Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham!"

"Here I am," he replied.

2 Then God said, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about."

3 Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.

God promised Abraham a son when he was seventy-five years old. When Abraham was one hundred, Isaac was born. A few years later, God tested him to demonstrate whom he loved most: God or Isaac. It is amazing to me that Abraham did not hesitate but early the next morning got up and obeyed. He went as far as taking the knife in hand before God sent an angel to stop him. Then God said this to him, “. . . because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son . . . through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."

God is amazingly clear on this point.


Substitute anything or anyone else,

and the world will not be blessed.

Loving our children more than we love God is idolatry and idolatry is destructive. Psalm 115: 8 “Those who make them (idols) will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

We will become like what we worship. I realized that if I worshipped my kids, I would become like them, just a big kid. If I worshipped God, I would become like him. Our kids need their parents to be more like God than like kids. We need to be moved by what is righteous instead of by what we want.

We cannot please God and please our kids.

We cannot be ruled by God and ruled by our kids.

If we fear God first, that is, if we are attentive, receptive, and responsive to him above all else, then we will respond rightly to our children. But if we are attentive, receptive, and responsive to our children first, we will miss God entirely. Which comes first is the issue. Compromising on this issue will poison our sons and daughters and their children, too.

Putting Jesus first will bless

our sons,

our daughters,

their children,

and the world.