The Curries

The Curries
Keith and Patricia

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

LONG-RANGE VIEW: Why risk it?

     In their day, the Pilgrims were called Separatists because they separated themselves from the Church of England. They met in their homes in secret to read the Bible and worship freely. This was in contrast to the Puritans who remained in the church of England with the hope of purifying it. For the Separatists, this meant that the king and his officials became their enemy; Separatists were the “trouble makers” and were officially persecuted. The government broke up the secret meetings; they took their positions, their properties, and arrested them. This is how the Separatists became wanderers for their faith, pilgrims; they left England and fled to Holland in 1608.

    Settling in Leyden, Holland, they were able to worship freely. The Dutch had been persecuted by the Spanish years earlier and were much more tolerant of different ways to worship Jesus Christ. In Leyden for twelve years, the Pilgrims worked hard and sought to make it a home, but it was not to be.

    Language was a barrier. Making a living was difficult. The culture was foreign to them. Over the twelve years there, they realized that their children were growing up speaking a different language, learning a strange culture, unaware of their own heritage, and straying from their faith. Their ability to shape the hearts and minds of their own children was dangerously hampered. Something had to be done.

    This was a key factor in motivating them to take the risk to go to the New World. God had given them the insight to see past their own generation into the next. Why did these men and women risk everything to come to America? Why leave civilization to go to the wild regions of an unknown place? They were looking to the future, toward their children and grandchildren and beyond.

    That’s why they secretly returned to England to board ships bound for America. They risked their lives in order to gain a future for their children. They sacrificed, but they did not call it that. They called it opportunity; they called it God’s will.

    They were like the children of Israel that Moses delivered from Egypt. They were like Abraham who heard God’s call and followed. They were also mothers and fathers who were moved to action so that they could offer their children the opportunity to know Jesus Christ who was the reason behind it all.

    I have a friend who runs an orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico. He established their own school in order to sow faith in the children there. That was not an easy task.

    As the principal of a Christian school, I see parents each year sacrifice in order to sow a future of faith in their children.

    Some homeschool, some teach Sunday school, some get involved in youth groups, some move to different cities, some turn down promotions, some curb their travel and consequently their income.

    Like the Pilgrims, parents today all around us are driven by their faith to sow eternal truth in the hearts and minds of their children. Often, it is sacrificial.

    May we be among them! Hear their stories. Discover our own. We are pilgrims, too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

TRAINING: When fairy tales and history are the same

    Will was in his first year of college and invited a fellow student to join us for Thanksgiving. Inviting others in for Thanksgiving or Christmas or Sunday lunch is pretty normal for us. So Stefano agreed to join us for Thanksgiving. The day before Thanksgiving, Stefano’s mom, her sister, and her daughter surprised him by showing up at the college. Will, asked, “Can they come too?” So our crowd grew a little larger.

    We have tried to apply the pattern of celebration in Deut. 16 to our own holidays:
1)    Celebrate together
2)    Honor the Lord
3)    Remember your history

Deuteronomy 16:9-12
Count off seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain. Then celebrate the Feast of Weeks to the LORD your God by giving a freewill offering in proportion to the blessings the LORD your God has given you. And rejoice before the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name--you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, the Levites in your towns, and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows living among you. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and follow carefully these decrees.

    Sometimes it is more difficult when others join in; sometimes it is easier. Either way, we have learned that if we can get through the awkward moments that the worthwhile moments will come.   I had planned to read the Thanksgiving story and so I did. Stefano and his family were not American citizens, so the story for them was fresh and interesting. When we finished reading they wanted to talk about it and discuss it. That was fun, their presence and their interest amplifying our own.

    We celebrated with typical turkey and a table full of Patricia’s best.

    We honored the Lord by asking each person to share an event from the year that caused them to give thanks for his goodness. Our guests happily participated.

    Then I read the story of Thanksgiving from a book by John Brown, one of the early Pilgrims. I had chosen excerpts that demonstrated the hand of God in guiding and preserving that first group of brave men and women. We read the miraculous story of Tisquantum (Squanto), of their prayer for rain during a drought and how God answered, and of course, of the first Thanksgiving.
Stefano’s mom commented, “I have never heard these stories.” Unfortunately, she’s not the only one.

    Today, these stories are being avoided in the education of our children. Even worse, they are ignored in the celebrations within our own Christian homes. We’ve got the turkey part, the football part, the family gathering, but we are leaving out our history and God’s place in it. If we don’t remember our history, our "holy days" will not be holy to the Lord but wholly to ourselves.

    Let’s take thirty minutes this Thanksgiving and remember our history. Let’s marvel at the bravery of those who endured persecution, exile, oceans, plagues, starvation, and loss of loved ones in order to worship God freely.

    “Every once in a while, the hand of God is easy to see, and for a brief moment, fairy tales and history are the same thing. This story is about one of those times.” So begins Eric Mataxas’ great little book Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving.
I recommend it to you.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

LONG-RANGE VIEW: See small, live small; see large, live large!

    Sunday morning worship. I was singing, praying as we worshipped. In my heart, however, I was concerned for my young teens Anna and Patrick. During that worship time I heard God’s truth come to me. It was both a rebuke and an assurance, like a two-sided coin: “I can do more with their sin than you can do with their perfect behavior.”

    I was struck by the clarity of that thought and by its immediate application in my life. We had raised our children with clear boundaries, teaching them to “obey with a good attitude.” Nevertheless, life itself was not fitting into such a neat package. They were growing and developing as their own persons and our control was lessening. We would see good fruit but also stuff we didn’t like in them. (It sounded a lot like ourselves, actually.)

    God was rebuking me that my faith and trust were not in Him but in my own ability to be a good parent. We were trying to control our kids. As we saw that we were gradually losing control, we didn’t like it. We were asking ourselves many questions:
Why are they developing these attitudes?
Why are we responding more sarcastically with them?
Why is there so little peace?
What are we doing wrong?
Why are they deliberately trying to frustrate us?

    It was in that context of life that God spoke to me during worship that He could do more with their sin than I could with their perfect behavior. He was saying to me that my kids would sin, that they were human. He was saying that He was the Redeemer: that where sin abounds, grace much more abounds. He was telling me to trust Him, to give my children to Him—again.

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
    We talked about it, prayed about it, and gave our children to Him again. They were His children; we were stewards. He was Master, we were servants. We breathed deeply and let go.

    We stayed involved, prayed, cared, conversed, and continued to do the things parents do, but with a larger understanding. God was at work, even in our failures, even in their failures, even in our sin, even in their sin.

    In Matthew 13, Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the tares (weeds). When it was discovered that the field that was sown with wheat was growing an inordinate amount of weeds, the servants asked, “Shall we pull up all the tares?” But the owner of the field said, “No.”  He knew that pulling up the tares would also destroy too many of the good plants. He counseled waiting until the harvest when all those things could be sorted out.

    That’s what He was saying to me that morning in worship. Sow the good seed and let it grow in contrast with the bad. Life will sort some things out. You will help them sort some things out. Others will step in by His grace and help them sort things out. And some things they will have to sort out with God’s help alone.
    God has done more with their sin than I could have done with their perfect behavior!

Trust Him.
He redeems for He is the Redeemer.