What do you have to do to become a better parent this year? Join AMBrewster for this nine part series as he shares with Christian parents how they can take the first steps to becoming intentional, premeditated, disciple-making, Ambassador Parents.
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“Teach Your Children to Learn” (episode 207)
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If you read the subtitle of today’s show — become a new parent in the new year — and thought I was going to tell you how to find a spouse and produce children this year . . . I’m sorry, but this episode is not for you.
But if you understand that we all need to become better versions of ourselves, and you're looking for a parenting podcast that will help you make the changes you need to make so you can become that newer and more Christ-honoring version of yourself . . . then you are in the right place.
Truth.Love.Parent. is a ministry dedicated to glorifying God by helping dads and moms become the intentional, premeditated, disciple-making, Ambassador Parents that God called and created us to be.
This podcast and all the ministry resources at TruthLoveParent.com exist to equip you to be a genuinely Christian parent.
And that’s going to have to involve change.
None of us are born Christians. None of us are perfect parents.
This means we’re going to have to change from what we once were to what we must be.
And even though every episode we’ve ever published is designed to help you become more like Christ, this particular series is all about how to start the process of change.
I was originally going to call it the “How Do You Start Being?” series, but I realized the verbiage was clumsy. So, I changed it to “How Do You Become?”
Still, the emphasis is going to be on the initial steps necessary to change your trajectory and start moving in the right direction.
But — before I say anymore — let me encourage you to subscribe. I always encourage people to subscribe on iTunes, but I know there are tons of ways to subscribe to this podcast. In fact, I found a number of non-English speaking podcast hosts that feature this show. Of course, the show is still in English, but it’s available on their platforms.
So, you can subscribe on any podcast host you wish, just make sure you subscribe.
I also encourage you to join the TLP Family. Just go to TruthLoveParent.com and sign up. You won’t get a ton of junk mail, but you will be notified by email any time we publish something new to our blog, Taking Back the Family. And you’ll receive a code that will allow you to join our closed Facebook group.
Okay, let’s talk about how you can become a new parent this year.
The first thing we need to discuss is the nature of change.
1. God never changes, but we must.
Malachi 3:6 says, “For I the Lord do not change.”
And Psalm 102:25-27 reads, “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end.”
And yet, God has created us to be creatures of change.
In our “Teach Your Children to Learn” series we look at the fact that God created us to learn, requires us to learn, and empowers us to learn. Learning, is just one kind of change, but it’s a good example of the fact that we were created to change.
By the way, any time I reference another show, I’ll include an Apple Podcasts link in the description of this episode. If you’re using Apple Podcasts, you can simply click the link and be taken right to it. If you’re using a different service, I also include the episode number.
Anyway, I Peter 1:15-16 dramatically points out our need for change when it says, “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”
And John 8:10-11 illustrates our need with the woman caught in adultery. “Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.’”
Now, some people are so incredibly arrogant that they don’t think they have to change. If that’s you, all I can say is you’re arrogant. And — as an old professor of mine used to say — “You need to go to Walmart, buy a white t-shirt and a black magic marker, and write ‘I don’t read my Bible’ on the t-shirt.”
I John 1:8 and 10 read, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us . . . . If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”
We’ve all sinned, we all sin, and we all need to sin less.
So, yeah, there are people out there who think they’re too good to need to change, but — for the rest of us — we often think we’re too far gone to change.
We think things like, “The things I’ve done are too bad,” “I’ve been doing these things for so long, I can’t change,” “People don’t really change,” “How could God even forgive me/use me/love me/change me?” and “Change is for young people who have the energy.”
But all of these are lies.
In I Corinthians 6:9-11 we read, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Don’t forget that Paul was murdering Christians before his conversion!
God created everyone to change, and that includes you, and that includes changing you from all of your bad parenting habits.
Nothing you’ve done cannot be forgiven. No sin you’ve committed cannot be replaced by righteousness.
Now, that’s encouraging . . . but this next point probably won’t be.
2. Change involves death and destruction.
Think about it, everything on this earth that changes does so as a result of some form of death or destruction.
Landscapes are changed as pieces of the terrain are broken, blown, or bulldozed away.
Our bodies change as old cells die away and are replaced.
And, the Bible speaks of spiritual change that requires what biblical counselors like to call “radical amputation.”
Now, please understand that I’m not advocating self-flagellation or misguided asceticism.
But Jesus did use the following hyperbole to make a very dramatic point.
In Matthew 5:29-30 He said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
And later in the same book — in Matthew 18:8-9 — He repeats Himself: “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.”
And then this same Truth is repeated in Mark 9:43-47, “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell.”
The point is, something is going to have to die in you if you’re going to really change. Light and dark cannot exist in the same room at the same time. One is going to have to disappear.
If you want to move toward becoming a better parent, you’re going to have to move away from being a bad or average parent, and you’re going to have to leave those things behind.
This is why Paul says, in Philippians 3:12-15, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.”
So, as you consider this new year and becoming a new, better version of yourself, please understand that it will likely be an uncomfortable transition in one way or another. You’re going to have to break old habits, you’re going to have to say “No” to old lusts, and you’re going to have to do hard things as you are conformed to the image of Christ.
And that’s why . . .
3. Lasting change must be deep change.
In our “Merest Christianity" series we answered one of the most important questions on the planet . . . why do your kids do what they do. Of course, that series also explained why we do what we do, and it dealt with the only way to have real, lasting change in our lives.
I highly recommend you listen to that series as a beautiful follow-up to today’s discussion.
Anyway, just to boil it down, everything we do comes directly from the deepest part of who we are . . . our heart.
This word refers to our philosophy, our belief system, and our worldview.
In Ezekiel 36:26-27 God tells us, “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.”
Walking in God’s statutes has a prerequisite — that our hearts be changed.
And once our belief-system has been addressed, it will affect the way we think. Romans 12:2 reads, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
And then all of that internal change will affect the external. I John 2:6 says that, “Whoever says he abides in [Christ] ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
Now, I understand that unsaved people change all the time. But the change we’re looking for is a whole-person, deep-seated, genuinely spiritual change.
This is the only kind of change that matters, and it’s the only kind of change that lasts.
So, yes, anybody can change because God created us to change, but we want real change, and . . .
4. Real change must come from God.
Jeremiah 13:23, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.”
God’s saying that the moment a leopard can change its spots, you will know it’s possible for you to stop doing evil.
Even Jesus points out that we can’t will ourselves to grow, how are we going to will ourselves to being holy as God is holy?
The Lord explains divine change further in II Corinthians 3:18, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
And the great thing about this kind of deep, divine change is that . . .
5. Real change is total change.
II Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
God desires that we be completely revolutionized. And — when He takes us home — He will finish the work He’s begun in us when He glorifies us and removes every trace remnant of sin from our hearts.
And that will be the best day of our lives . . . and the start of eternity!
But, we need to be in process now.
So, let’s review before we move into our second part of the show.
1. God never changes, but we must.
2. Change involves death.
3. Lasting change must be deep change.
4. Real change must come from God.
5. Real change is total change.
And don’t forget that you can go to TruthLoveParent.com and download any of our episodes notes for free any time you’d like.
Just follow the link in the description, and it will take you right there.
Now, I like to keep these episodes to about 10-15 minutes, but we’re discussing something super important that will function as the foundation for the rest of this series, so I want to move to the second part of our discussion today.
This would be a good place to pause the episode if you can’t finish it today.
I’m now going to lay out a simple, four-point outline for change, and this outline will become the format for the next eight episodes.
As we talk about how to become an Ambassador Parents on our next show, we’ll use these four points to pave the way.
Remember, the goal of this series is to help us take the first steps to becoming the parents God wants us to become this year.
So, let’s look at the outline now, and start applying the outline next time.
1. Learn the Truth.
We’ve discussed this before, you can’t believe what you don’t know. God’s Word is absolutely necessary as we strive to grow in our parenting.
I’ve seen so much change in the families I’ve counseled when the parents see a biblical concept they didn’t even know was there.
Remember, freedom comes from God’s Word. John 8:31-32 says, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
God’s Word is the only way we can safely take any steps in our parenting. Psalm 119:105 reads, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
Now, learning is a lifelong endeavor. We’ll never learn everything we need to know about parenting in this life. And I don’t want to take a lot of time on this stage because that’s what this whole podcast is about.
So, in the following episodes, I’ll point you to previous episodes that provide the information we need.
Of course, I also want to encourage you to continue reading the Bible this year. It’s not a textbook or a how-to manual, but nearly everything you encounter in the Scriptures can be applied to your parenting.
And once you’ve learned Truth from God’s Word . . .
2. Decide to believe the Truth.
Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
The first step in obedience is having faith that what God wants us to do is right.
God illustrates this throughout the rest of Hebrews 11, but in verse 8 He says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
Abraham didn’t even know where he was going, but he believed God and obeyed anyway.
You will not change in your parenting — or anything else for that matter — if you do not simply choose to believe the fact that God is right, you are wrong, and you must make a change.
And I can’t do this for you. Your spouse and your kids and your pastor can’t do it for you either.
And it’s not a mystical thing.
Imagine an actor on a zombie movie. In the movie, the zombie has to look like it’s eating brains or intestines, but you and I know that — in real life — the actor isn’t eating brains and intestines.
So, the prop guy comes up with what looks like human entrails and tells the actors that it’s a real, human food product that’s been crafted to look like body parts.
Those people simply have to choose to believe the prop guy is telling the truth.
And why do they choose to believe he’s not giving them real human organs? Honestly, they trust him.
If what God says about our parenting isn’t trustworthy enough to simply choose to believe, then why on earth do you expect that He’s trustworthy enough to keep you from Hell?
It always amazes me when people say they trust God for their afterlife when they won’t trust Him with their life.
When I read that God says that I should do all things without murmuring and complaining, I need to simply choose to believe that all complaining is a sin. I won’t tolerate it from myself or anyone else. It doesn’t matter how right it feels or sounds, God’s right, everyone else is wrong, and complaining won’t be tolerated.
And, remember — before I move on to point 3 — belief isn’t knowing something. That was point 1. Belief is when we do what we know. Belief is behavior. Faith is action.
No one who believes the bungie cord is safe and fun refuses to jump.
So, in the following episodes — when we come to step 2 — I’m simply going to challenge you to believe what God says on the matter. I’m not going to try to convince you. I’m going to call you to faith and repentance.
So, first we have to learn the Truth, then we have to believe the Truth — which is the same as doing the Truth, but it’s always a good idea to . . .
3. Get some help.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-13 gives us some very obvious, but desperately necessary advice: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.”
This is a big deal, especially in America, and especially in the American church.
America is a country that parades individualism and celebrates facade, and since the church is the place that deals with the worst parts of us, it’s so easy to pretend like we don’t need help.
But we do.
Now, many of us are doing this parenting thing with the help of a spouse, but that’s not everyone. And when it comes to parenting, how would you even begin to receive accountability or assistance?
I’m going to deal with this topic in more detail later this Season, but for now, let me offer this advice:
Like I said, I want to explore this topic in more detail later, but — as part of this series — we’ll take some time in each episode to discuss how to gain and utilize accountability in each area we cover.
And lastly . . .
4. Make small changes.
II Corinthians 3:18 says, “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Did you catch that? We’re being changed from one degree to another. Depending on how you look at it, a degree isn’t that big of a deal. Whether it’s a degree in angles or temperatures, it doesn’t seem to make that big of a difference.
But when you add them up and give them time, a couple degrees can make a world of difference.
The point is, we must start small, and this series will provide you practical and applicable first-steps for becoming an intentional, premeditated, disciple-making, Ambassador Parent in the New Year.
Please start the New Year off right by sharing this episode with all your friends on social media. You can even email a link to a friend.
Don’t forget about the free episode notes.
On our next episode we’re going to answer “How Do You Become an Ambassador Parent?”
And I want to end by thanking Lisa. She’s one of our new Patrons, and she’s super awesome, as all our Patrons are.
You can learn more supporting TLP in the New Year by clicking the link below.
Any time of year is a good time to become more like Christ, and I pray this series will help you do just that.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
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