Purity Is about More Than a 3-Letter Word

Pure: without any extraneous and unnecessary elements, free of any contamination

In a culture saturated with sensuality, it is a gargantuan challenge to raise children who are pure yet are also “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16). There are many scriptures that call all believers, no matter what age, to live a life of physical purity, but there are also scriptures that call believers to have a pure heart and to think about that things that are pure.* 

Nothing Ever Changes

You may feel that purity is an impossible goal in the current world we live in, but truly our culture is not so different from the culture New Testament describes. Galatians 5:19-21 provides a warning to the believers in Galatia who engage in certain behaviors, a list that sounds very much like the challenges for Christians in our 21st century. Satan’s schemes haven’t changed, but neither has God’s call for us to live free from the contamination of sin.

In the scriptures it is clear that God calls His children to be physically pure, but there are also many scriptures that call us to be pure in heart—in our thoughts, intentions, and attitudes. God’s idea of purity includes being free from contamination like jealousy, anger, rivalry, envy, and anything else that doesn’t reflect who He is. Raising pure children in a pleasure-driven culture isn’t easy; it requires intentional parenting. 

Set a Standard

When God entrusts us with His precious little ones, He is asking us to be His agent, one empowered to act for or represent another, to raise His child as He would. Since Satan masquerades as an angel of light and children are not born with the wisdom and experience to recognize evil, it is our responsibility as parents to establish boundaries that reflect God’s standards. 

Setting a standard is important, but it is equally important to explain why the standard is important and to connect it to God’s expectations so that someday they will be able to set their own wise guidelines. It is our responsibility to educate and maintain standards in areas such as  interactions with friends, management of money, and use of media, just to name a few, but it also means that we need to hold our children accountable for impure actions or attitudes by confronting the sin and bringing correction—an infinitely more challenging role than merely enforcing rules.

Set an Example

When I was studying to be a teacher, I learned the saying, “More is caught than taught.” I believe there is some truth to that. Our children are observing us every day and learning about acceptable behavior for adults. If we have one set of guidelines for our children and another set for ourselves, it makes us hypocrites but it also demonstrates to our children that standards of purity don’t matter as much or at all when you’re an adult.  

If we want our children to be adults who live pure lives, then we must show them the way. If we want our children to grow to be adults who love God, then they need to see us loving God. If we want them to speak respectfully to us, then we need to speak respectfully to them and our own parents. If we want our children to be free from anger, rivalry and envy; then we must lead the way. When we set an example of godly character, we are saying, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). We need to be the kind of adult we want our children to become.

 

*For specific references, please see: http://www.openbible.info/topics/being_pure. Click on the scripture to change to a different version.

How Our Family Celebrates Valentine's Day

heart with hands.jpg

Our family likes to celebrate. We celebrate holidays and people and babies who haven’t yet seen the light of day. Valentine’s Day is no exception. In the course of homeschooling, we taught our young girls about St. Valentine and the historical basis for the celebration, but we also focused on Valentine’s Day as a day to celebrate the love of God and the love of family. 

Love is Giving

Our sweet little ones grew up and somewhere along the line, our gift of miniature heart-shaped boxes of chocolates morphed into bags of Lindt truffles and Valentine’s cards carefully chosen by Dad and signed by both of us. But that’s not what my girls are looking forward to this Valentine’s Day. 

Love is Sharing

I’m not even sure when our tradition began, but I remember thinking that girls want valentines. They want to feel special and valued and loved. I figured that if they didn’t get that at home, they would search for it elsewhere. So 10-plus years ago I decided to share my valentine. 

Love is Faithful

Yes, I think it’s important that our girls know that their dad and I are in love and that I am his #1 woman, but celebrating Valentine’s Day with overpriced restaurant dinners and red roses isn’t the only way to show our love. The girls see how my husband honors and prefers me every day of the year, how we serve each other, how we have faithfully planned date nights every month for the past ten years, and how we want to be together. Just the two of us. As much as possible. So I don’t mind sharing for a few years, because after that he’ll be all mine.

Love is Honoring

Since my birthday falls during the week of Valentine’s Day, we have a date to celebrate both occasions and then we celebrate Valentine’s Day as a family. We try to honor the girls as we would someday expect their husbands to, by making it a special evening with dinner served in the dining room on china or our nicer plates. The menu usually includes a new recipe of something elegant, sometimes several courses, and always concludes with a delicious dessert. Sometimes the girls dressed up, sometimes dad cooked, and sometimes we moved a table into the family room. But the best is what happened after dinner. 

Love is Belonging

Every year Harold turns on the same CD, one that he and I often listened to while we were engaged, and then he takes a turn dancing with each daughter—yes, I get a turn, too! I love to watch the whispers, the giggles and the smiles as they each have their moment feeling special, and treasured, and loved. Sometimes the daughters went back for a second dance, sometimes they dressed up in my old bridesmaid gowns, sometimes sisters danced with sisters since our family is sorely lacking other male dance partners. But at the end of the night, each girl knew that they belonged to a family who loved them dearly.  

Love is Preferring

This year we were honored to be invited to participate in a special dinner event at our church on Valentine’s night. Of the two daughters at home, one was working late and we considered having the other join us at the event, but we realized that our youngest would probably only have two more Valentine’s Days with us. She was overjoyed to learn that we had chosen to stay home and that we will be continuing our Valentine Family Celebration tradition.  

Love is Timeless

Life changes so quickly but we never outgrow love.  Last year we celebrated with only the youngest. The other daughter living at home had chosen to be a part of an amazing regional event of Christian young people who were gathering for prayer and worship, another daughter was settled in Dallas, and another was serving as a missionary in Mexico. In April, our missionary daughter returned and that night, her Dad put on the “dancing CD,” held out his hand and said, “We missed our Valentine dance.” As I type this, I am still teary-eyed as I remember the love in his eyes and the tears on her face as she was once again reminded that she was special and treasured and loved by our family. Some would say that it was a little late, but love is always on time.

29 Reasons to Pray as a Family

Some earlier blogs mentioned praying at meals and before bed, but truly that is just the tip of the iceberg! Prayer is less about a memorized schedule and more about a lifestyle. Our children learn about when to pray by the examples we set.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.       Philippians 4:6-7

God wants us to bring all of our cares and concerns to Him--any time, any place--no matter how trivial they may seem in comparison to a world full of great need. If it matters to us then it matters to God. No matter what your situation is, pray. Pray alone, but also pray as a family in the everyday moments of life and watch God do amazing things.  

Pray

Pray in the morning;
Pray at meals.
Pray when your child gets a new set of wheels.

Pray when you plan;
Pray before bed.
Pray when you’re sorry for something you’ve said.

Pray when you’re worried;
Pray when you fear.
Pray when the next step isn’t so clear.

Pray when you’re lost;
Pray when you’re confused.
Pray when you’re about to do something brand new.

Pray when you disagree; 
Pray when there’s division.
Pray when you need to make a big life decision.

Pray when you’re angry;
Pray when you’re hurt.
Pray when you’re searching for a lost shirt.

Pray when you celebrate;
Pray when you’re sad.
Pray with your child when they’ve done something bad.

Pray when you’re lonely;
Pray when you’re grieving.
Pray when someone you know needs healing.

Pray when you’re shopping;
Pray when you lack.
Pray when you’re tempted to regret and look back.

Pray when you’re together;
Pray when you’re apart.
Prayer is a bond that connects you by heart.

#IntentionalParenting2015

Happy 2015! 

For the past week my email box, Facebook feed, and online advertisements have been filled with systematic plans for meeting new year goals—Couch to 5K for the running enthusiast, a 12-month plan to organize your home, a 30-day menu and shopping list for clean eating, daily email assignments to declutter your brain, and the list goes on. This morning, it occurred to me that I haven’t seen one article about one of the most important goals in my life—raising godly children. 

Achieving a goal doesn’t just happen. 

Achieving a goal takes a plan, behavior changes and lots of hard work. After talking about losing weight for the last 20 years, my husband finally achieved his goal in 2013 and lost 80 pounds. (Yep. 8-0) He made a plan to use the My Fitness Pal app to chart a course and record everything he ate. Finally, he bought a used bike with a comfortable seat and disciplined himself to ride. Nearly every day. In about 6 months, he had lost 50 lbs. A year later he had reached his goal weight. Eighteen months after that, he has kept it all off.

One bite at a time.

The saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” When you have a big goal, it’s easier to achieve when you break it down into smaller goals. Raising a godly child is huge goal and sometimes overwhelming, so I’ve made a 12-month plan broken down into various character traits. I am not promising to blog every day, but I am committed to post at least weekly to provide some ideas for you and your family. I welcome your questions, but I hope you’ll post your suggestions for the others who are also following this series. 

As with any goal, it always helps to have someone who is walking beside you in the journey. If you are married, I highly recommend that you and your spouse decide together what this will look like for your family. If you’re a single parent, you may want to find another parent who will act as a sounding board and an encourager. I may not live in your town, but I hope this series will be a source of support for you, too. You can do it!

During this year, I plan to post ideas and our own family experiences on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #IntentionalParenting2015. I hope you’ll do the same so we can share experiences and encourage each other.

Big goals require big changes. 

If you are serious about raising godly children, it will require planning, change, and incredible dedication. I believe that the goal is worth the sacrifice. Tomorrow I’ll post the plan, but the behavior changes and hard work are up to you. 

How to Bless Your Children by: Harold Moore

When our daughters were very young, Joy and I were exposed to our first teaching on the power of the blessing.  The significance of blessing is woven throughout God’s Word but we often don’t hear sermons or teachings on the importance and the impact blessing can have on us and particularly on our children.

I like to boil down teachings to simple “take-aways” (something I can remember) and, as a guy, a “to-do” list, which helps me stay on task.  For me, the “blessing”, in its simplicity, is a declaration of God’s truth and favor over an individual.  A verbal or written blessing brings life, vision, and hope to the recipient.

With a better understanding of the potential impact of blessing, I recognized that as much as I loved my daughters, I was not intentionally speaking blessing over them on a consistent basis.  I also realized that as my daughters grew they would become more interactive with other people and involved in a variety of social and community situations – from expanded friendship, church, ministry, and work.  They would be bombarded by lots of words every day, but very few of those words would speak to their heart about their value, worth, or truth of God’s purposes and plans for their lives.  In fact they could very easily declare the opposite.

How could I, as their dad, speak blessing over my daughters so that they would consistently hear God’s truth about them and their lives?  If I could come up with a plan it would help me remember to do it.  And if I did it consistently, my words would carry far more weight then those of friends, co-workers, and others. Now I had a new task on my “to-do” list.  The solution: “Saturday Morning Blessing Time @ The Moore’s.”

For our family, Saturday mornings are the most consistent time we are all together.   On Saturday’s I make breakfast for the family (giving Joy a cooking break).  After breakfast and before we cleaned up the table and kitchen, I gather the family together and I simply pray/speak blessing over my daughters and my wife.  I don’t always do it the same way and I don’t have an agenda what I’m going to speak over them nor do I have a set time or duration for the blessing time.  Life is often complicated with schedules and with demands for our time and sometimes it doesn’t happen. But it happens more often than not – and it certainly happens more often than it did before I became intentional.  The goal is not to add another “religious” activity.  The goal is to do it and to do it consistently.

Here are simple “take-aways” for you and/or your spouse:

Set a time (day/time) that your family could most consistently gather together for blessing time.  It doesn’t have to be a big chunk of time.  Start with 10 minutes and see what happens.  Make that time priority for your family but if circumstances force a change, give yourself grace and re-schedule.

Pray blessing over each family member.  Speaking blessing over the entire family is great and valuable but nothing will have the impact of looking your child or spouse in the eyes and proclaiming the truth of God over them and reminding them of their value and worth.

Bless them with truth.  You could speak a scripture truth over them, bless them with reminders of how they are beautiful and created in the image of God, or speak about the future God has for them - to prosper them and give them hope.  You could bless them by proclaiming the godly spouses that God is preparing for them or the protection of God over them wherever they go.  The possibilities are endless.  Ask the Holy Spirit to place in your heart what they need to hear. Don’t be religious sounding. Bless them in your words.

Here is a short example of a blessing I could speak over one of my daughters:

“Father, thank you for Elisabeth.  I thank you for creating her as a beautiful woman, both inside and out. 

Elisabeth, may you be blessed, knowing how valuable you are.  God’s hand and favor is on you because He created you and called you to do mighty things for His Kingdom.

I bless you as you seek His face and follow the call He has placed on your life.  May you always walk in His presence and know that you are never alone, for He is with you always.  I bless you and your work in school – that you will be blessed with clarity and understanding for all that you are learning. 

I bless your future – that poverty and sickness will never overtake you and the favor of the Lord will rest upon you, that He will provide protection and provision all the days of your life.

I thank God that He has placed you in our family.  You are a blessing to me as your Dad and to your whole family.  May you be blessed knowing how much you are loved.”

Make the words your words and speak them in ways that connect to your child or spouse.  The genuineness of the Holy Spirit speaking blessing through you will impact your family for generations. 

Harold.

A Commitment to Purity

Over the past several years, the concept of purity rings has grown increasingly popular in the Christian community.  While the article is about jewelry for daughters, I believe that it is equally important for sons to have a symbol of their commitment to purity.  So much emphasis is placed on the ring, but it is a only a symbol of a more important commitment made. The Commitment Harold and I made individual commitments to purity before we met, but they were commitments from our hearts and not with written or spoken words.  Our desire was to be more intentional with our daughters, calling them to a commitment of purity in body, mind, and spirit—not just before marriage but for all of their days on this earth.  We chose to discuss this topic during what we call “Purity Weekend”—a mother/daughter overnight get-a-way when we first discussed intimacy in marriage as well as courtship and the biblical standard of purity.  (The Gift of Purity includes a schedule as well as all information necessary to conduct a purity weekend for your daughter.)  At the conclusion of our weekend together, Harold surprised our daughter and joined us for dinner.  After dinner, we returned back to the hotel where we were staying and Harold talked with them, recounting our weekend discussions about the biblical command for purity, calling them to a point of verbal response.  He then presented his princess with a lovely purity ring, symbolizing her commitment to purity.  He explained what the ring meant and placed it on her finger.  It was a significant and emotional moment for all of us.

Purity Rings vs. Promise Rings Lately I’ve heard the words “purity ring” and “promise ring” used interchangeably.  I understand that a promise ring could reflect a commitment to keep one’s promise to remain pure until marriage; however a pre-engagement ring symbolizing a commitment to a future together is also called a promise ring.  In order to most clearly communicate, we have chosen to use the term “purity ring” to describe the ring our girls wear on the ring finger of their left hand as a symbol of their commitment to purity in body, mind, and spirit both before and after they are married.

Our Choices At the writing of this article, our oldest three daughters wear purity rings given to them by their father at the conclusion of their individual purity weekend.  (The youngest is anxiously awaiting her purity weekend.)  Each ring is unique and suits the wearer perfectly, though none of the rings was labeled as a “purity ring.”  We purchased all three rings on sale from local jewelers.  Our oldest daughter wears a gold ring with a red stone in a heart-like shape; the second daughter has a gold heart and white gold heart intertwined; the third daughter treasures her white gold band with three tiny stones. When we were purchasing rings, we took into account the following requirements:  We looked for a simple, yet beautiful design that was symbolic and meaningful.  Not knowing when she will marry, we wanted a ring she would be proud to wear even as a grown woman.  We wanted the ring to be long-lasting and reflect both her value and the value of her purity.  While some parents may be concerned about giving a young person something so valuable, I’ve found that their ring is so precious to them that they care for it and guard it carefully.

Your Choices Since purity rings have become much more acceptable in our culture, you can find purity rings for sale at several local and chain jewelry stores as well as numerous online outlets.  Two popular styles available to order online are The Gift Wrapped Heart Purity Ring and The Unblossomed Rose Purity Ring.  (I’m not providing a link since these are available from many online retailers.)  I’ve also found reasonably priced quality rings at www.overstock.com and www.amazon.com. If you think your daughter would rather not wear a ring, you may want to consider a “purity necklace.”    There are several choices available through Pumpkin Seed Press, here.

Make a Choice There is no right or wrong when it comes to purity rings or purity jewelry.  There is no perfect symbol—only the perfect symbol for your daughter.  Your daughter is a unique individual designed by the Master Creator.  As you make your choice, think about who she is, her interests, what she values, her favorite color, and all the other characteristics that make her so special.  Ask God to help you choose something you think she’ll love, but remember the ring is only a symbol of a personal commitment to purity.  May God lead you as you bless your children and lead them to walk in purity all the days of their lives.

Under Construction: Our New Online Store

Some of you may have noticed that our online store is temporarily under construction while we make some adjustments.  When our new store opens, you’ll find some changes.  After much prayer, Harold and I believe that God is leading us to make some adjustments to our ministry. First, we are discontinuing all products that aren’t exclusive to Daughters 4 God.  We will continue to carry our self-published titles such as Lady Day, The Gift of Purity, the audio products, and our sterling silver jewelry.  It is impossible for us to offer the other products at prices to compete with Amazon or CBD.  At this point, I’m planning to review new products for raising daughters, but we will not be offering them for sale.  Fewer products mean less time managing inventory and more time for writing and for ministry at our local church.

Second, we anticipate that our new store will have audio and pdf downloads priced less than a hard-copy product.  Some of you have asked for a “Cleaning Game” download so you don’t have to pay shipping.  We think that’s a great idea and we’re working to make that a reality.  We’re also hoping to add more audio teachings as well as some other books that are in development.

Third, we will not be traveling to homeschool conventions as we have in the past.  (We still haven’t decided about MACHE for 2011…)  It has become more difficult for us to travel together.  Harold took on a new role as Associate Pastor last October which means he can miss fewer Sundays, and the oldest two will be in college in the fall but still living at home.  Yes, we could leave Harold and our two college students behind, but that’s not what the Moore family does.  We’re a team and we minister together.

We believe that this is God’s plan for this season.  We will still look for opportunities to share our heart and our experiences, but just a little closer to home.  That’s a tough one, since we’ve made so many friends over the years.  Thank you for all of your encouragement and support.

Ruth Bell Graham once saw a sign along the road and asked that it be epitaph.  Her tombstone reads:  “End of Construction.  Thank you for your patience.”  I suppose I feel the same way, like I’m always under construction.  There’s another flaw, another weakness, another insecurity that my Creator lovingly reveals to me.  But I’m so grateful that He also shows me His complete sufficiency for every area of my lack.  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9)  “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 1:6)  His construction process is not always easy or pleasant, but always necessary and beneficial.   Our construction, both personally and for D4G, continues but thank you for your patience.

A Father's Love (By: Harold Moore)

By: Harold Moore February – the month of love.  At least that is what we are told.  Funny how one day of the year, February 14th, can become a reason to buy cards, candy, flowers, etc., to show how much we love those in our lives.  Shouldn’t we have a life-style of showing love throughout the year?  The obvious answer is, “Yes!”  The way we show true love must go way beyond the purchasing and giving of “things” on a special day.

As a father I’m often challenged as to what to give my wife and daughters on Valentine’s Day to express how much I truly love them.  I will again this year give the ladies of my life cards, candy, and maybe a little gift for my wife.  But all of those gifts are meaningless and futile in expressing love if my wife and daughters do not know in their hearts the love I have for them throughout the year.  I believe they know in their hearts how much I do love them, but it didn’t just happen by accident.  I was intentional.

How can a father intentionally express his love to his family in ways that reach the heart?  I asked God that question one morning and I believe He answered my questions with a very simple acrostic of “FATHER.”

F:  Faithful

A father’s love is shown in faithfulness.  Romans 5:8 tells us that God, our Heavenly Father, shows and clearly proves His own love for us by the fact that while we were still in our sin, He died for us.  A father is faithful to show love no matter what.  His love is not conditional or provisional, nor is it based on the performance of those whom he is called to love.  A father is faithful to provide for the needs of his family.  He provides security.  He is faithful to provide appropriate affection to his wife and children so that they have no need to search for it from any other source.  A father is faithful to keep the covenants and commitments to his wife and family so that his word is true and dependable.

A:  Accessible

A father’s love is shown in accessibility.  Hebrews 4:15-16 tells of our Heavenly Father who understands us and cares for us, even in our weaknesses and vulnerability to temptation.  He bids us to fearlessly and confidently draw near to Him and find help for every need.  A loving father is accessible to his wife and children.  He makes time for them and gives his time to them.  He creates an atmosphere of accessibility and openness.  He loves them; therefore he is accessible to them.

T:  Tender

A father’s love is show in tenderness.  Isaiah 40:11 and other scriptures give us a picture of how tenderly the Lord cares for his own.  Jesus looked over unfaithful Jerusalem and spoke of a tender desire to “gather her under his wings”.  He wept.  He had compassion over the sick, broken, and hurt.  A father who truly loves his family will be known by his tenderness toward his loved one’s emotions, hearts and spirits.  He will be tender with them physically, particularly his wife and daughters, and not treat them as “one of the boys.”

H:  Honoring

A father’s love is shown in the honor and value he gives to his family.  They are not just his; they are daughters and sons of God.  He treats his family with respect and honors their thoughts and feelings because they are created and valued by God.

E:  Excited

A father’s love is shown in an excitement about the things that are important and exciting to his family.  In Zephaniah 3 there is a wonderful picture of God dancing and singing over you with joy and excitement.  What an awesome picture of God and his delight over His children!  A loving father shows an excitement and enthusiasm over the things that are exciting and valuable to his family.  He celebrates and shows excitement about their life and their destiny.

R:  Relational

A father’s love is shown through an abiding relationship with his family.  We were created by God to be in relationship with Him – to be His sons and daughters – so that He could bestow on us the inheritance of His Kingdom.  God’s greatest desire was to show His love toward us by giving us a relationship with Him, not just gifts and pleasures.  Sin separated us from that relationship but God’s love for us was so great that He gave Jesus to restore that relationship with Him.  A father who truly loves his wife and children loves them through relationship.  It is relationship that wraps it all together.  Love must be given through relationship and not just an event or a check mark on “to do” list.

FATHER

In looking at this acrostic I realize that this doesn’t just apply to fathers but to all who call themselves Christians.  I also realize the many times that I fall short of these ideals.  Only our Heavenly Father fulfills these attributes perfectly and constantly.  Yet even in our weaknesses and shortcomings, He still calls us to show acts of love beyond a card or gift on a special day.

My prayer for you is that in this month, and the months that follow, that you will be filled with both giving and receiving love.  I pray that you reach the hearts of those you love with your faithfulness, accessibility, tenderness, honor, excitement, through genuine relationship with you.  And the card and candy are a nice touch.  =)