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Welcome to the New Year and the start of Season 13.
I’m super excited to be back behind the mic, and I’m even more thrilled about the announcement I made last time.
If you didn’t catch that super-awesome, totally-amazing update, you really need to listen to it. I can’t wait for everyone to learn about the New Truth.Love.Parent.!
For those of you who are new to the show, I am Aaron Michael Brewster. For the past thirteen years I’ve been counseling families, for the past five years my wife and kids and I served at Victory Academy for Boys ministering to at-risk families, and now, starting this year, we are dedicated to serving families all over the world through the various ministries of Truth.Love.Parent.
Johanna is my wife, Micah is my son, and Ivy is my daughter. We live as a multi-generational family with my parents, Ray and Carolyn in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
On a side note, I’m looking forward to sharing with you what it looks like to be in a multi-generational family, so make sure you join the TLP Family at TruthLoveParent.com so you can get your passcode for membership into our closed Facebook Group. There we talk about life and parenting and marriage. We’d love for you to join us there!
Okay, let’s dive into our first discussion in the New Year.
There’s this great little passage in an oft-neglected book of the Old Testament that I want to apply to our parenting this week.
You can access our free episode notes and transcripts at TruthLoveParent.com if you don’t have time to write anything down as you listen.
The passage I’m referencing is Joshua 24:14-15. Let me start by giving us the context and then reading those two verses.
Many years prior, Moses died and handed his mantle to Joshua, one of only three men who believed the Lord’s promise that the children of Israel could conquer Canaan.
At this point in the book, Joshua has faithfully and successfully lead the children of Israel in the conquest of the Promised Land. I say “successfully” from Joshua’s standpoint. Obviously, the children of Israel didn’t do the job the way God had commanded, but Joshua did his job very well.
It’s now at the end of Joshua’s life, and he’s delivering his farewell address to the Israelites. His goodbyes start in chapter 23 and continue through verse 27 of chapter 4.
He begins by retelling the people what they had heard over and over. Joshua 23:6-8 reads, “Be very firm, then, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right hand or to the left, so that you will not associate with these nations, these which remain among you, or mention the name of their gods, or make anyone swear by them, or serve them, or bow down to them. But you are to cling to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.”
He then repeatedly ties the motivation for the Israelites allegiance back to the faithful character of God. In fact, half of chapter 24 is a recitation of the brief history of Israel and the mighty works of God for the newly born people group.
It’s with this background that Joshua proclaims the famous words of Joshua 24:14-15, “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
As we strive to become more intentional and premeditated parents in this new year, I see seven principles from verse 15 that we desperately need to apply to our parenting.
So, let’s start by making the observation that . . .
1. How we parent this year is an immense choice.
Joshua says, “choose for yourselves today whom you will serve.”
Choosing who your master will be is no light decision.
I know in our culture we don’t like to think in terms of masters and servants, but the terminology of servitude is made all throughout Scripture.
Now, I’m not advocating for one human being owning another human being. That’s not right. What I am discussing is the very important reality that — as the Creator and Lord of the universe — God deserves to be the supreme Master of our lives.
This is why Paul so often referred to himself as a “servant of the Lord.” He even went so far as to call himself a bond-servant — an indentured slave — of God.
That is the only correct posture a human being can take toward God. We’re not His equal. We’re His creation. The most we can ever hope to do is serve Him.
Now, the beautiful thing is that God is not a demeaning and wicked taskmaster. Yahweh is the most loving and gracious and Merciful master in the universe. He doesn’t mistreat His servants; He goes to every length possible to make them His sons!
He takes people who could never otherwise be more than a servant and provides a way for them to become family.
The reason our parenting choices are so immense is that they reveal whom we’re going to serve. The choice of whom who you are going to worship with your life is the biggest choice in the world.
I have a couple resources I want to share with you in regard to this discussion. The first is a page at TruthLoveParent.com called “The First Step to Being a Good Parent.” I’ll give you a link to that page in the description of this episode.
The second resource is our “Family Worship” series.
Both of those resources are free, and they discuss this concept of having to be a servant to something or someone.
Our first 4th of July episode was called “Dependence Day: A New Way to View Your Family.” It too helps us understand that we are not free. We never were and never will be. And that’s a beautiful, liberating reality.
The joyous news is that we were created to serve something. That reality can give our lives infinite meaning only if we choose to serve the infinite Lord. And if you choose not to serve Him, your options are very limited.
So, if nothing else, please understand that your parenting choices this year are a big deal. They will reveal one way or another whom you are choosing to serve.
2. How we parent this year must be an individual choice.
Joshua calls each of us individually to grapple with this decision. He says, “choose for yourselves.”
As much as he or she would like to, your spouse cannot make this choice for you. I can’t make this choice for you or for your spouse or even for my spouse.
Our pastors can’t make it for us, our mentors can’t make it for us.
I can only make this choice for me, and you are the only one who can make it for you.
Christ-honoring parenting will never happen by accident. It doesn’t come about through osmosis. It’s an individual commitment that must flow from a personal choice.
And remember this, you’re lying to yourself to think that you don’t have to choose. The moment you say, “I don’t have to choose one way or the other,” you’ve already made your choice.
That means that you will make an individual decision this year. You’re going to worship someone. You’re going to serve something. Embrace the responsibility for your personal change; stop relying on the spirituality of your friends or family.
3. How we parent this year must be an intentional choice.
This is tied to the previous idea, but while point 2 discussed the word “yourselves,” this point focuses more on the word “choose.”
We talk a lot about being intentional on this show. Last year our “How Do You Become” series included a whole discussion about “How Do You Become an Intentional Parent?”
The fact is that choosing to serve God is not going to happen by accident. You’re not going to trip and fall into parenting for Christ.
I’ve said it many times, but none of us improvise well in our parenting. Just like an actor needs to memorize his lines and rehearse, we must purposefully and premeditatedly prepare to parent.
If we don’t intentionally commit to serve Christ in our parenting, we’re not going to do it.
So, is this whole parenting thing sounding like a big deal? I hope it is.
I hope you’re appreciating the immensity of this choice.
I hope you see the individual responsibility of this choice.
I hope you understand the intentionality necessary for this choice.
And . . .
4. How we parent this year must be an immediate choice.
If you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness curable only by a single technique that needed to be performed today . . . would you schedule the procedure for this coming Sunday?
Joshua rightly called the children of Israel (and us) to choose “today” whom we will serve.
This episode was published on January 3rd, 2020. Who knows when you’ll listen to it. Given the evergreen nature of our content, you could be listening to this on August 23rd in the year 3058 . . . assuming people still understand my English then.
Anyway . . . regardless of when you listen to this episode, and regardless of how many times you’ve made the same choice, every day we must rededicate to serving God.
One of our last episodes was about making New Years resolutions, and though I believe there is real value in that, I also believe that momentous decisions and occasional recommitments are pointless without the daily, mundane, and repetitive choices we make on a moment by moment basis.
It’s like our episodes “Have Forgettable Conversations with Your Kids" or “Repetitive Parenting | how to enjoy repeating yourself" — we are forgetful people who need constant reminders. A one time commitment isn’t ever going to be enough.
Our lives are lived in the nitty-gritty of the uninspired and humdrum. If we only ever individually and intentionally make immense decisions on the mountain tops, we’ll fail to glorify God in the daily valleys.
So, yes, you need to purposefully choose whom you will serve now as opposed to later.
However, I believe the time issue is not merely immediate as well as it is repetitive.
You need to choose today. And then you need to choose tomorrow. And then you need to choose the day after that.
I don’t know about you, but in my parenting I feel like I need to rededicate my parenting to God multiple times a day — sometimes I need to rededicate myself mid-sentence! I go from worshipping God to worshipping self in a nanosecond.
The point is that we don’t simply need to choose today — at the bright beginning of the new year — we need to choose every day hereafter.
“Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve,” and then join us next time as we look at three more important parenting applications from these verses.
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Your parenting can please the Lord this year, but you’re going to have to start by individually, intentionally, and immediately making the immense decision to serve the Lord by the way you parent . . . . and then do the same every other day of the year.
Remember, if we want our children to grow up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love.
To that end, join us next time as we look at the final three elements of the choice all parents have to make.
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