Friday, 19 September 2014

Love is Patient

    One Saturday afternoon while I was studying at the kitchen table, my 4-year-old daughter was at the other end decorating cookies she and her mother had made earlier that day. I found it difficult to concentrate as sugar sprinkles scattered across the table and dropped to the floor, not to mention the icing that covered little hands and clothes more than the cookies themselves. I must admit that the mere distraction was not as much of a bother as the prospect of having to clean up the mounting disaster, so I started interjecting comments like, "Be careful," "That’s too much," "Don’t make a mess!" It didn’t take long for my "helpful advice" to turn into outright fussing, and my daughter could sense that I was becoming increasingly more agitated. So the junior decorator paused for a moment, looked at me with her child-like innocence, and calmly declared, "Daddy, I’m a little kid you know."
     My irritable countenance quickly turned to a grin, and it dawned on me that I had been making way too much out of nothing and unrealistically expecting her to act like someone well beyond her years. Instead of getting frustrated, I could have stopped what I was doing and offered some assistance. Better yet, I could have sat back and taken joy in watching my child show initiative and develop her creativity and independence. Rather than being critical, I should have been thankful that we at least have a table, a floor, and excess sugar sprinkles with which a mess could be made!
     My wife and I have been blessed with two healthy, intuitive girls who are willing to try new things despite the less-than-perfect ways they may go about it sometimes. My daughters won’t be little forever, and one day, when they have grown up and left home, I will almost certainly miss their childhood antics.
     I realize there are couples who can’t have kids, who would love to have a precious child like mine, irrespective of the occasional disarray. Some parents have tragically lost young ones through accident or illness, and others, with physically- or mentally-impaired children, would give almost anything to watch their sons or daughters decorate cookies and make the biggest mess in the world.
     I felt guilty for taking so much for granted, for not being as appreciative as I should, and especially for not being as patient as the Lord expects me to be (Galatians 5:22; 1 Corinthians 13:4; etc.). I gave my daughter a big hug and told her how happy I am that she is my child. I gladly helped clean up the mess, and with the Lord’s forbearance I am trying to practice the lesson of patience that was imbedded in my conscience that Saturday afternoon.
     Thank you Lord for our children, who continue to draw us closer to you.
–Kevin L. Moore

*Inspired by my youngest daughter Kaitlyn.


Friday, 12 September 2014

Daddy's Job

     Coming home one evening after a long, hard day of work, all I wanted to do was plop down in my comfortable chair and relax. But my 4-year-old daughter had other plans. She enthusiastically met me at the door and wanted me to go outside with her and play. I tried to explain that Daddy was really tired and needed to rest awhile, but to her that was just not acceptable. I then suggested we could play a game in the living room while I sat in my chair, but as far as she was concerned, nothing short of running around in the backyard would do. A few more feeble attempts were made to reason with this less-than-patient bundle of energy, when finally in exasperation she exclaimed, "But Daddy, it’s your job!"
     I confess that she caught me off guard with such a profound statement, and my stubborn defense instantly collapsed. She was absolutely right. When I decided to become a parent, I accepted all the accompanying responsibilities, including my personal commitment to never neglect my family. This little girl needed to spend time with her daddy, and I had no right to deprive her of that basic need. With her simple and pointed words, she reminded me that love "does not seek its own" (1 Corinthians 13:5) and that all of my excuses were meaningless.
     Paul admonishes his readers to literally "redeem" the time they have been given (Ephesians 5:15). The word "redeem" means to exchange one thing for another, and since we have our children for only a limited period of time, how are we using that time and what are we exchanging for it? Surely providing for our families (1 Timothy 5:8) involves more than just material necessities. Am I providing love, security, a good example, encouragement, discipline, spiritual leadership, affection, affirmation, and undivided attention?
     To this day, whenever I am tempted to selfishly focus on my own perceived needs at the expense of my children or am distracted from my God-given parental duties, the words of that precious 4-year-old child still ring in my ears: "But Daddy, it’s your job!" That’s all the prompting I need to readjust my focus and get back on track.
     Thank you Lord for our children, from whom we learn so much!
–Kevin L. Moore

*Inspired by my oldest daughter Loren.

Related Posts: Love is PatientSpiritual Development in the Family

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Spiritual Development in the Family

     No two families are exactly alike, and because of the imperfect world in which we live, God’s ideal for the home is not a personal reality for everyone. But irrespective of our particular household dynamics, how can we ensure that spirituality is being developed in our homes?
     I. Provide what is really important. “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 NKJV). Beyond the essentials of physical life (food, shelter, clothing), is there anything else the Lord expects us to provide for the members of our household? What about security, affection, quality time, undivided attention, and love? Do our children live in an environment where they can develop a healthy self-esteem (cf. Genesis 1:26-27; Mark 12:31), learning the significance of inner beauty (1 Peter 3:3-4)? Of even greater consequence, we must accept the responsibility of ensuring that our family is consistently exhorted to “walk worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
     II. Create an atmosphere of faith. From Deuteronomy 6:4-7 we learn three basic family guidelines. (1) Parents must exemplify faith (vv. 5-6). Our children watch, listen to, and imitate what we do and say. They pick up on our inconsistencies as well as our virtues. Whether our focus is on earthly or heavenly things (Colossians 3:2), our children will likely follow suit. (2) The way of the Lord must be taught in the home (v. 7a). As important as church assemblies and Bible classes are, the home is the central spiritual learning environment. Our children will learn their value system from somewhere, whether from the secular media, from misdirected peers, or from Christian parents. (3) We must make God and His will part of our daily conversation (v. 7b). It is never too early to begin talking to our children about our divine origin, righteousness, the Lord’s church, soul-winning, being a faithful Christian, marrying a faithful Christian, and preparing for eternity.
     Discipline is consistently practiced in a godly home (Ephesians 6:4) and must always be understood and administered in the context of love (Hebrews 12:3-11). Discipline, as God designed, is not merely corporal punishment but is appropriate action that encourages children to listen to and obey helpful instruction (Proverbs 13:24; 22:15; 23:12-16; 29:15, 17).
     III. Prepare for a family reunion in eternity. If one spouse ends up in heaven without the other, or if parents are there without their children or vice versa, what a tragedy! One’s own salvation should never be his/her only concern (cf. Hebrews 11:7). Granted, when our children leave home and are no longer under our authority and influence, they make their own choices and are solely accountable. But the general “train up a child” principle of Proverbs 22:6 ought to compel Christian parents to make sure that God is always first in the home. Families committed to the Lord will forever be together. 
     Developing spirituality in the family is no simple task in today’s worldly environment, but with God’s help and the right focus, let us be committed to this eternally significant endeavor.
--Kevin L. Moore

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