What do you do when your kid slips in their behavior? Is it possible to not become spiritually lethargic? What about backsliding? Join AMBrewster as he deals Biblically with these questions and more in an attempt to help Christian Parents lead their kids to spiritual zeal and fervor.
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“Parenting a Terrorist” (episode 37)
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“A Parent’s 5 Jobs” series (stars in episode 184)
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If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you’re enjoying the start of summer. And for all of our listeners in Australia, South America, and South Africa, I pray your winter is shaping up to be amazing!
My name is Aaron Michael Brewster. My nuclear family consists of me, my wife, and my two kids who — at the time of this recording — are nine and twelve.
But every year I also have the unique privilege of being house dad for up to eight teenage boys where I live and work at Victory Academy for Boys.
So far my wife and I have had the privilege of being surrogate parents for 43 boys, and we look forward to inviting another eight this fall.
Please pray for us. Parenting that many at-risk teens for nine months straight isn’t easy. We would never be able to thrive here if it weren’t for God’s sustaining grace.
But, then I guess you already know that. Sure, I get eight trouble-teens for nine months at a time year after year, but many of you have at least one — if not more — troublesome children in your home every day of every year. You don’t even get a break!
And that’s why we created this podcast. Truth.Love.Parent. exists to serve God by equipping His people to parent the way He created them to parent. It’s not easy, and we all need help.
In fact, I’d argue that parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the universe, and — in our own strength — it really is impossible. But we have God’s Word, and He’s given us the Bible to teach us and reprove us and correct us and train us as we strive to do the same for our kids.
Now, I have to be fair. I don’t have all the answer. God does. I’m along for this ride just like you are. We’re learning this together.
I love the way Danielle recently put it. She said, “Truth.Love.Parent. Is so practical, so applicable, and so encouraging-because it is firmly based on God’s truth in His Word. If I could spend the entire day reading the Bible, and pouring myself into study of the scripture, I would do it, but — since that is impossible — I have included listening to TLP to help me understand how to be a Biblically-minded, training, premeditated parent concerned with what God wants of me and my family. It has revolutionized the way I parent because of the biblical knowledge that is being poured into me. I’m soooo humbled and grateful for what God is doing in my heart and how he has used this awesome podcast!!! Thank you all soooo much! Keep it up!!”
And it’s because God is so awesome that I’m going to say there’s no reason you can’t do what we're doing. Sure, you may not write any books or host a podcast or speak at conferences, but you can influence a young parent. You can speak God’s reassuring Truth into the ear of someone we will likely never meet.
Or perhaps God would have you host a podcast. I never imagined I would be doing a parenting podcast, so who knows!
So, thanks for joining us and subscribing and sharing TLP with your friends. We desire to become the go-to place for all things Christian parenting. We have a long way to go — this ministry is still very young — but it’s been amazing to see what the Lord has allowed us to accomplish in just three short years.
I hope you’ll be with us through September when we celebrate our third anniversary. And perhaps the Lord would have you partner with us. We’re always looking for new volunteers to join TeamTLP, new friends with whom we can talk and encourage one another on our Facebook group, and new Patrons.
Patrons are beautiful, amazing people who give financially to support TLP. We are a listener-supported ministry, so anytime one of you feels lead to send some money via PayPal, it goes a long way to helping create these free parenting resources.
I want to thank Ray and Carolyn for making today’s episode possible. They have faithfully given since the beginning, and we love them so much. Thank you, guys for investing in families!
You can learn more about how to become a Patron or give a one-time gift by clicking on the “5 Ways to Support TLP" link in the description of this episode.
And speaking of milestones, today we’re starting our 11th Season. At TruthLoveParent.com we’re compiling a list of all of our seasons and episodes for easy access. We’re a little under halfway there, but the list will catch up one day!
This podcast is evergreen, and I think the best way to listen to it is season by season from the beginning. So, if you’re new to us, I’d encourage you to just start at the beginning. Don’t let the pressure of the new episodes overwhelm you. Forget about them and work your way through from the Pilot Season. Think of it as a Masterclass, not a cultural fad.
Alright, that intro was much longer than usual, but I think it’s important to kind of reintroduce the show from time to time. You never know who’s going to stumble across us and when. I remember Cara telling me that the first episode she heard was #37 . . . and it was just what she needed to hear.
So, let’s find out what we need to hear today.
I started the intro talking a little about how challenging it is to parent, and today’s show is about one of those challenges.
Sometimes parenting is hard because our kids are hard; there seems to be no victories and no light at the end of the tunnel. And if you’re in a situation like that, I really want to encourage you to reach out for help. The Lord wants His people living in community. We need each other, and parenting hard-hearted kids — especially when they’re acting like zombie terrorists — is probably the hardest.
But, I think the vast majority struggle with a very different dynamic. We struggle with a spiritual ebb and flow. We could call it the Spiritual Tides.
I know in America Independence Day is coming up, and I don’t really plan to talk much about it so much as to say that we do have previous episodes about Independence Day and your family which I’ll link in the description, but I do think the concept of independence plays into this discussion.
But, first let me invite you to click on the link for our free episode notes at TruthLoveParent.com. And make sure you follow us on your favorite social media platform so you can redeem your newsfeed with expertly curated parenting content for Christian parents.
Alright, let me start by defining what I mean by “Spiritual Tides.” We’ll talk about what causes them, both internally and externally, and then, Lord willing, wrap up with some helpful ways to respond to the tide.
High tide and low tide affect the ocean as the water is pulled out of its bed by the moon and then later put back to sleep. I think the best biblical example of spiritual ebb and flow is the Israelites in the Old Testament. They spent hundreds and hundreds of years flip-flopping between repentance and rebellion. God would make a decree, they would obey — for the most part — then they would slide away from Him, He would send consequences, they would rebel even more, He would send even more consequences, and then finally they would repent.
Now, I think that national example is a little different than what we see in our family. On a national level, I believe there were probably people who had rebelled against God and later repented, but I think much of the history involves the younger generation turning back to God after the older generation had rebelled.
And I think we see that in our families when we zoom out and look beyond our houses. There may have had very devote and Christ-honoring ancestors or extended family members who had children and grandchildren who rejected the Lord, or God-hating ancestors whose children fell deeply in love with God.
Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace!
You should take some time — as a followup — to listen to episode 9 from our Pilot Season. It’s called “It Only Takes a Generation to Die,” and it deals with one half of this concept — the propensity for submissive parents to have rebellious kids.
This would even happen in school. As a 6th grade teacher it seemed that I would have a class of angels one year and a class of reprobates the next, but then the next year would be back to being angels. Perhaps it was a perception thing, but often you could ask previous teachers and find that their experience was the same as that class moved up through the grades.
My point is that I don’t really want to focus on national or group tides — one generation penduluming to the opposite extreme in response to the choices of the previous. I want to zero in on the spiritual ebbing and flowing of the individuals in the family.
Perhaps you have a son or daughter or spouse (or have experienced yourself) a swing from spiritual vivacity to apathy. What was one on fire has since burned out.
Let’s talk about that and see what the Scriptures have to say.
1. A Low Spiritual Tide is always the result of increased iniquity.
If we’re gong to define a low tide as movement away from Christ toward self, then the biblical evidence for such a claim is overwhelming. If a low tide is movement away from light toward darkness, then sin will always play into it.
I Timothy 4:1-3 and Romans 1:18-22 are perfect examples of the the degradation of sin. Of course, I believe the Romans passage is clearly talking about unsaved people, but — like I said — it illustrates well the backward movement of iniquity.
Now, a discussion like this is going to cause us to consider the idea of “backsliding.” Doesn’t that sound exactly like that about which I’m talking? As the tide slips down, it’s backsliding.
Isaiah 57:17 reads, “Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid my face and was angry, but he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart.” And Jeremiah 8:5 asks the question, “Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding?”
I’m going to unveil this concept piece by piece.
Let me start by saying that I do believe it’s accurate to say that this picture of a Low Spiritual Tide could be compared to backsliding. But I also believe there are a lot of wrong conclusions about backsliding, so we’ll answer those as we go.
1. A Low Spiritual Tide is always the result of increased iniquity. If one of your family members has seemed to lose their passion and zeal for God, then something is taking His place. It could be as simple as they have started doing the right things in the right way for the wrong reasons. Simply, selfish reasons may have sneaked in and replaced God’s glory.
It could also be that more aggressive sin may have also had time to grow. As the motivation turns away from God, it’s not long before we’re doing the right thing in the wrong ways or not doing the right things at all.
This is a time for parents to ask great questions. Proverbs 20:5, "The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
That decline in fervor and zeal is the fruit. Discovering the root and applying God’s Truth is the best way to address the decline.
2. A Low Spiritual Tide is occasionally a sign of no spiritual life.
The doctrine of backsliding or what some people call “carnal Christianity” is actually quite simple. Anyone can backslide, but an unbeliever will stay there. A true Christian will eventually accept God’s discipline and repent.
Matthew 7:21-23 reveals that “Not everyone who says to [Christ], ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”
And I John 3:4-10 reads, "Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.”
Jesus, Himself, tells us in Matthew 18:15-17, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.”
When He said “as a Gentile or tax collector,” He’s referring to someone who’s unsaved.
Therefore we see that a continual or elongated time of Low Tide is likely an indication of no true spiritual life.
This means . . .
3. A seemingly High Spiritual Tide may be the result of externalism.
“But Aaron, they fell into a Low Tide after a period of High Tide. Doesn’t that prove they were born again?”
Well, we have to acknowledge that this spiritual zeal about which we’re talking is a subjective concept, and man can only look on the outward appearance. Only God sees the heart. Therefore, we may have been seeing something that look genuinely spiritual, when in fact it was self-motivated like the individuals in Matthew 7 who seemed to have an amazing spiritual resume but who were unsaved.
We talked about this in grand detail in our “Four Children” series. That series studies the only four responses to Truth our children can have. If you haven’t heard that series, you really need to check it out.
Well, two of those four responses appear to have spiritual life on the outside, in fact one of them is described as appearing to have a very High Spiritual Tide — the Bible says they “receive it with joy.” But when confronted with Bible Truth, a crash back to normality always follows.
Neither of those individuals have any root, and they’re choked out by sin or scorched by the sun of God’s Word.
All of this to say that we need to be perceptive, constantly ask the right questions, immerse ourselves in the Scriptures, and not get lazy.
Do you remember how I talked about independence at the beginning. Many times our kids have a spiritual experience (genuine or not, it doesn’t matter) and they do so well for a time that we stop parenting as intentionally and premeditatedly. We kind of feel like everything’s okay, so we stop putting as much work into it.
Well, there are plenty of problems with that mentality, but one of them deals with the spiritual tides.
If our child is doing well and we become passive in our parenting because — for some reason — we think that a five year old or a fifteen year old is somehow capable of maturing in Christ all by themselves with no problems, then we detach and aren’t as perceptive, and our child falls into a Low Spiritual Tide without us even noticing it.
We need to be careful giving our children spiritual independence. The Bible is so full of one-another passages because He created us to be dependent on Him and others. I’m not saying you can’t trust your child to have quality personal time with God, but I am saying that we need to be actively involved in their spiritual lives.
We must never take it for granted.
So, 1. A Low Spiritual Tide is always the result of increased iniquity.
2. A Low Spiritual Tide is occasionally a sign of no spiritual life.
3. A seemingly High Spiritual Tide may be the result of externalism.
But, 4. A genuine High Spiritual Tide is the result of the Holy Spirit.
We must always remember that spiritual victory comes through Christ. It’s not because our kids are so awesome (though they all, undoubtedly, are). It’s not because we’re amazing parents. It’s because God is an amazing God. He’s the one Who gives life, He’s the one who provides the power we need to grow in our sanctification, and He’s the One Who will one day glorify us and eradicate the sinful flesh. It’s all about Him.
So, when we’re seeing an ebb and flow in our family, we must put out focus and faith where it belongs and perhaps we’ll find that we too took our eyes off of Christ and need to redouble our time with Him in prayer for our families.
And, lastly, 5. The Christian need not experience Spiritual Tides.
Let me start by saying that we will ebb and flow; we will continually be plagued by sin and temptation as long as we’re on this earth. But I Corinthians 10:13 gloriously informs us that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
And He not only provides an escape on the front end of the temptation to escape the sin, He also provides an escape on the back end to prevent staying in sin.
Hebrews 12:6-11 reads, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
God disciplines us because He loves us just as Disciple-Making Parents should discipline their kids because they love them. We want our child to move out of their spiritual apathy or lethargy and return again to the glorious joy and crown of rejoicing that is the life of Christ.
David, after being caught in sin, repented and prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:12)
And when a genuine Christian is confronted biblically, they will repent at some point. It has to happen. There is no such thing as a carnal Christian who accepts the Lord and lives like the Devil the rest of his life.
I love what Ray Comfort said, “It's those we erroneously call backsliders, who fall away, because they have never slid forward in the first place.”
An unrepentant backslider caught in the undertow of a Spiritual Low Tide doesn’t need to be persuaded to come back to God, they need to be challenged to run to Him for the first time.
The ocean cannot help but ebb and flow with consistency, but the genuine Christian need not slip back into old habits and patterns of consistent sin. By the grace of God we may fall seven times, but we’ll get back up.
So, in conclusion, if your child appears to be in a state of spiritual decline, they need to humble themselves, acknowledge their sin, repent, and do so in conformity to God’s Word.
And if we want to help our children stay in their Spiritual High Tide, we need to help them by participating in the most glorious stage of parenting, the Training Stage. In this stage we keep them immersed in Truth and provide the accountability and assistance needed to continue submitting to God and believing His Word that provides them the access they need to the Holy Spirit’s power to continue growing in their conformity to Christ.
You should check out “A Parent’s 5 Jobs” series which discusses the parenting stages in far more detail. But you should also listen to the two-part “Teach Your Children to Apologize” episode. That’s an extremely important part of staying far away from any backsliding.
Please share this episode with your friends, and join us on our next episode when we revisit the change that we prayed would happen way back in January. This year we’ve had a huge focus on how to change, and part of that process is reevaluating where we are. So please join us for “Continuing Change for Your Family” as we study II Timothy 3:14-15.
I don’t know about you, but this is super exciting. God gives us answers for everything we encounter in life, and I’m honored to be searching the Scriptures with you to be taught by Him.
So, to that end, I’ll see you next time.
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