The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

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.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SPIRIT TRAINING: Getting to the “why”

1 Kings 1:5-6

Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, "I will be king." So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him.

(His father had never interfered with him by asking, "Why do you behave as you do?"

King David had never asked Adonijah “why” he acted like he did. In other words, he had never addressed the issues of Adonijah’s heart.

Last week, I encouraged you as parents to “interfere” or get engaged with your children. That could take many different forms like teaching, explaining, or correcting. This week we want to dig a little deeper.

Children often do the wrong thing and they don’t know why. In their minds, they just did it. They may lie, they may hurt another child either physically or verbally, they may refuse to obey, they may choose any number of what the Bible calls evil deeds. Unless we help them interpret their deeds, they will not understand why they acted as they did.

Here’s why.

Everyone is born with a selfish heart. David says, “I was conceived in sin.” He understood his own inability to do right without God’s help.

The middle letter of sin is “I.” And it is hereditary; we inherited this heart problem from those who have gone before us—as far back as Adam. We think we can be good without God. When we or our kids fail to be good, we have to face our humanity and our moral brokenness. One of two things happens: 1) we sear our consciences until we can do what we want without remorse, or 2) we become heart-broken and ready for change.

Sometimes when we correct our children, they are genuinely sorry for their actions and are beginning to face themselves and their sin. Our children need to hear from us that wrong actions show us that we need Christ; we need Him to give us a new heart. We need a heart that wants to do God’s will instead of our own will. And Jesus died on the cross to give us that kind of heart—one to do God’s will.

By the time Danny was about six years old, we had explained this to him on more than one occasion. Times of correction and punishment had been seasoned with this simple gospel presentation. He had shown interest but without fruit of repentance.

Then one day we were driving home from one of the various events that fill the lives of a growing family, probably a ballgame of one type or another. As we drove along, we were listening to our local Christian radio station, Power 88. A man on the radio began to talk about our need for Jesus Christ. He ended his short talk by encouraging listeners to call 1-800-NEEDHIM. Danny immediately said, “I want to call that man when we get home.”

When we arrived home, we dialed the number; and I listened in as the man on the other end spoke with Danny and led him to Christ. The seed had been sown many times, but the moment of heart-change was in God’s hands.

Use those moments of correction to address the heart; you never know when God will reap the harvest.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

DISCIPLINE: Parents must interfere

1 Kings 1:5-6

Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, "I will be king." So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him.

(His father had never interfered with him by asking, "Why do you behave as you do?" He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)

It was David’s plan to make Solomon the next king. Adonijah, however, was the oldest surviving son and believed that he should be king.

King David was just too busy at the office to get involved with his son Adonijah. After all, he had a kingdom to run. The result was that Adonijah grew up with a big ego: “he put himself forward and said, ‘I will be king.’” Probably, Haggith his mother believed that Adonijah had the right to become the next king. The tragedy in all of this was that Adonijah would never be king. But since “Dad David” had never interfered with him, he figured David would stay out of the way this time, too. Sadly for Adonijah, it would eventually cost him his life.

From his deathbed, David crowns Solomon king. Then the plot thickens. In chapter 2, Adonijah is still plotting to be king and influences Bathsheba, Solomon’s mom, to speak in his behalf. Solomon sees through it and orders Adonijah’s execution. It seems like Adonijah had never been told, “No.” He had a high self-esteem. As a prince he had been catered to, he had been flattered, and he had been allowed to do as he pleased without correction. Adonijah could not accept his place; therefore, wise Solomon could not allow him to live.

Verse 6 points out the root of Adonijah’s problem very simply: “His father had never interfered with him.” In other words his dad had never corrected him. Adonijah grew up without a father’s balance and authority. He had the run of the palace. David was around but not connected. Adonijah’s self-importance grew and grew, but David either had not known or had not taken the time.

Here’s my point. Parents are supposed to “interfere” in their children’s lives. God fully expects parents to lead, to instruct, and to punish. That sounds like interference to me. It is the kind of interference that will help them to grow into productive, God-fearing adults.

May it never be said of us that we did not address the behavior of our children.