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Good day, my name is Aaron Michael Brewster and I want to personally invite you to follow me on your favorite social media outlets. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and whatever other social media apps that aren’t trying to limit free speech.
Yes, you will find posts related to marriage and parenting, but you’ll also get to know me a little better as I share my thoughts on a much wider range of topics and post stuff about my life.
If that kind of thing interests you, I’d love to have you connect with me there. Links will be available in the description of today’s episode and at AMBrewster.com.
But we mustn’t waste any time. We need to dive into part one of our newest series, “The Biggest Parenting Challenges You Will Ever Face in Your Entire Life!”
Okay, so that’s not really the title, but it’s close.
A while back I was invited to be a guest on Iron Sharpens Iron Radio with Chris Arnzen. The topic for the show was “the Challenge of Christian Parenting Today.”
So, I got to work. I opened my Bible, did some research, and considered long and hard the majority of questions that are presented to me as a biblical counselor concerning parenting.
And it didn’t take long to come to some really startling and desperately important realizations concerning our kids, their experience in this world, and our call to be Ambassador Parents.
I hope you’re excited about what we’re going to discuss because it’s going to be so incredibly helpful. And I say that as someone who has already being blessed and challenged and matured by this study. I’m looking forward to more growth in my parenting, and I hope you’ll join me in that.
If your hands are busy right now, that’s fine. We always have free episodes notes and transcripts available on our blog, TakingBackTheFamily.com.
Now, allow me to set the stage by explaining that the content we’re going to discuss on this series is universal. It affects every single person on the planet. Men, women, boys, girls, young, old, you, and your kids.
This is anthropology kind of stuff. This is the study of all mankind. So, whether your kids are infants, children, young adults, or out of the house, it will be applicable to all of them. But it will also be applicable to you. Even if you don’t have kids . . . these will be the biggest challenges you personally will ever face.
Now, before we itemize our first point, I want to give you the bird’s eye view of how this list of nine struggles was compiled.
My list started as a modern, very contemporary list of concerns and issues that all Christian parents are facing today. But as I interacted with them biblically, I quickly realized that none of them were original to us. Just like Solomon said “nothing is new under the sun,” I realized that each of the contemporary struggles we face are simply a repackaged version of the same old same old.
Let me give you an example. I believe that all parents have their radars tuned to the dangers of pornography — whether that be in their own life, their spouse’s life, of their kids’ lives. Yes, it’s true that Solomon didn’t have the internet in his day, but lust, sinful sexuality, prostitution, exhibitionism, and even sex as a religious rite already existed.
In fact, though the internet may seem new and unique and original, it’s just a different form of the same old thing. It’s mass communication taken to the next level, but it’s not new.
This should give us hope . . . so much hope.
Too many professing Christians question the veracity and value of the Scriptures. In America, nearly 70% of the population claims to be some brand of Christian.
However, according to Dr. George Barna and the 2020 American Worldview Inventory produced by Arizona Christian University, “The typical American believes, ‘truth is what I say it is, and no one can tell me otherwise.’ Six out of every ten U.S. adults believe neither that God is the basis for truth, nor that the Bible is a reliable or comprehensive source of truth . . . . These days, Americans believe that right and wrong can only be discerned by each individual, based upon their feelings and circumstances; and that what is right for one person might be wrong for another but each must have the freedom to make those choices without external judgment.”
But genuine believers are people who believe everything God says. They don’t cherrypick their beliefs. It’s all or nothing.
And one of the most glorious Truths is that the Bible is God’s perfect, eternal, and efficacious Word that contains everything we need for life and godliness.
So, let’s imagine that some brand new, completely unique, never-been-experienced-by-anyone-before parenting challenge were to evolve in your home. How on earth could anyone help you with that? Even the Bible would be ill-equipped to address your struggle because it’s never existed before.
But the reality is that every parenting challenge you’re going to face has existed since the Fall of Man. And God’s Word is sufficient to help us navigate every single one. And that is awesome, inspiring, and hope-giving.
The second observation I made about the list of parenting challenges I had compiled was that they were all interconnected. Every single one of them was connected to at least one of the others.
You can imagine a collection of concentric circles. Just like Russian Matryoshka Dolls, the bigger outer dolls contain the smaller ones inside. And — like those dolls — often times the big, in-your-face challenge in front of you isn’t really the one that needs addressing. Until you grapple with the innermost challenge, the outer ones won’t be resolved.
Now, usually I’d unpack these things in order from the outer concerns to the inner concerns. But I’m not going to do that today. We’re going to start with the most core parenting challenges and work our way outward because there’s something we can all do today to address that innermost issue.
And then as we work through each of the concentric parenting challenges, we’ll be able to see how they grow from the previous, how they affect each other, and — I believe — that approach is going to help us parent through the challenges well.
And the final observation I want to make about this list is that it represents spiritual attacks that come from all three of our spiritual enemies: Satan, the World, and the Flesh.
If you haven’t listened to “The Spiritual War in Your Home” series, I highly and strongly and dramatically encourage you to work through that. Listen to it with your spouse, invite your kids to participate. It’s such an incredibly necessary biblical study.
I’ll put the link in the description as well.
Let’s recap. This list of parenting challenges you’re going to encounter in your life are not new, the Scripture addresses each one. Second, they’re all interrelated, and we’ll be starting with the root. And third, all three of our spiritual enemies are going to attack our families in regard to these issues.
So, let’s get started with our very first and most central parenting challenge. And it’s a big one.
What would you imagine is the biggest one? We’ve already discussed sexuality and technology? Could it be authority issues?
Well, those are all important challenges we will discuss in this series, but they’re not the root.
In my biblical counseling practice I can trace every single issue, struggle, and sin to one basic temptation. It was the same thing with which Eve fought in the Garden of Eden.
We’ve unpacked Genesis 3 on this show multiple times, but allow me to make a new observation. Ultimately, the Bible says that Eve ate the fruit because she “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise.”
There was something Eve believed she needed. She believed with all her heart that she needed what the fruit was going to offer her. And she believed she needed it because she believed she didn’t already have it.
She believed the fruit was going to provide her food she didn’t already have. She believed it was going to delight her in a way she hadn’t already experienced. And — most importantly — she believed Satan’s inaccurate attempt to fact-check God that the fruit was going to give her wisdom she didn’t have but desperately needed.
And as I pondered for a long time, searched the Scriptures, and considered the experience of modern parenting, I realized that all sin finds its roots in what I’m going to call a temptation to . . .
1. Security is one of the greatest parenting challenges you will ever face.
Now, this category is not all that it seems on its face. There are three main words we’re going to consider as look at this parenting challenge.
The three words are security, safety, and satisfaction. And I want to define all three before we move on.
A. What is Security?
Merriam-Webster defines security as “the quality or state of being secure,” and it defines secure as “free from danger, affording safety, trustworthy, dependable, free from risk or loss.”
Eve thought she was in danger of missing out on something. She didn’t feel safe. She thought she was going to lose out on something.
B. What is Safety?
Merry-Web defines safety as “the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury, or loss.” And it defines safe as “free from harm or risk.”
And . . .
Eve believed she wasn’t safe. She needed the effects of the fruit in order to avoid harm and not be at risk.
C. What is Satisfaction?
The aforementioned dictionary defines satisfaction as “fulfillment of a need or want, the quality or state of being satisfied, the source or means of enjoyment.”
Eve believed her needs would be met, she would be satisfied, and she was going to enjoy the consequences of her decision.
Now, what do these security issues look like in our homes?
Whether our kids are single-digits, double-digits, or currently digitless, we want them to be free from the danger of risk or loss.
And guess what? Your kids want that for themselves too.
Everyone wants to be secure. Isaiah 38:14 reads, “O Lord, I am oppressed, be my security.”
Closely tied to our idea of security, we also want out kids to be safe. Honestly, physical safety seems to be the main concern for parents of young children.
I have to be really honest here, I think one of the biggest shortcomings of new parents is that they prioritize the child’s physical safety over their spiritual safety. They imagine that the second is something they can’t address right now and will have to get to later, but — my friends — that could not be more backward thinking.
Both the physical and spiritual safety of our kids — at every age — must be in our view. And I will argue until my face is blue that spiritual safety trumps physical safety every single time.
God did not give us the Scripture so we could avoid discomfort and danger. Regardless of what the fans prosperity false-gospel says, God flat-out tells us that danger and persecution and discomfort and death are going to be a regular part of the Christian’s life. God didn’t even spare His own Son from physical danger.
But the Bible does equip us to be spiritually safe in the midst of this physically dangerous world.
The point is, you want your kids to be safe. Your kids want to be safe. You want to be safe.
Psalm 12:5 talks about how people long for safety. It’s something all people want.
And lastly, C. Satisfaction
Modern Americans are fundamentally averse to anything unsatisfactory. We have customer service to help us fix our unsatisfactory service. We want our food to be satisfying. We want out clothes to be comfortable. We want our entertainment to fill a hole in our lives.
Everyone wants to be satisfied.
Psalm 59:15 describes those who “wander about for food And growl if they are not satisfied.” That is a perfect description of our modern affluent cultures.
And let me point out before I continue that desiring and working toward security, safety, and satisfaction are not inherently bad things.
Pursuing them is challenging, it’s very dangerous, but it has the potential of being eternally rewarding.
So let’s walk through each of those.
2. How is the pursuit of security challenging?
The question is almost ridiculous.
A. We live in a dangerous world.
Security is such a draw because every human being on the planet instinctively knows they are in danger.
Why does an infant cry so loudly when she’s hungry? It’s a life or death thing!
Security is so important to all of us because existence is literally life or death. And even those who live in relative comfort, they want the level of that comfort to be as high as possible because — even at our most satisfied — life is hard, weary, tiring, and unsatisfactory.
So, the pursuit of security for us and our families is so important because we live in a dangerous world. But we also have to consider that . . .
B. Security is costly.
That which is most necessary is most valuable.
The security industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. The same is true for the insurance industry.
And when it comes to products and services that promise to satisfy us . . . it’s like people can’t pay enough for them.
But this just complicates things because . . .
C. We’re finite.
We can’t protect ourselves from all of the dangers in the world. We can’t afford to have other people protect us from all the dangers in the world. And even if we were the richest people on the planet with the most expensive security systems, the most safety, and the most luxurious comfort, we will still eventually die.
On the most basic level, everyone knows that their life hangs in the balance. The first New Testament book was written to suffering Christians, and the author, James, reminds us that we are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.
Even Solomon in all his glory, after satiating himself with all of life pleasures, had to admit that all is vanity. It’s empty. It’s not fulfilling.
And as parents, you not only struggle with security for yourself, but you also have your spouse and your kids.
Each addition to the family multiplies the burden. I Corinthians 7:32-34 tells us, “One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”
Now, I need to clarify our intention before we move on.
I do not plan to talk about what you need to do to have security in your family and for your kids. Broadly, yes, we’re going to answer that, but specifically, I’m not going to try to list the best ways to have security, safety, and satisfaction in this life. That is a whole-Bible topic.
But what I want to do is talk about why this category is the first — why it’s so important — and then finish up by explaining how we can fail this challenge as well as how we can have victory over this challenge.
3. Why is the pursuit of security the epicenter parenting challenge?
It will be much easier to understand when we can sit back and view the entire list from a bird’s eye view.
For now, we need to synthesize this material with everything else we’ve learned on this show.
Yes, it’s true that the most seminal part of who you are is what you believe. But what you believe about security is going to motivate absolutely everything else you do.
Why did Ananias and Sapphira lie to the Peter and the church? The believed they would be satisfied if they could convince everyone that they are donating to the church the entire value of the land.
Why did Akin steal the clothes and treasures from Jericho after the Lord expressly forbade it? He believed it would satisfy him — make his life more comfortable. With those resources, he believed he would be safe from financial distress.
The concerns of safety and security always boil down to a desire for satisfaction. What will make me happy? What will make me feel good? What will make me feel comfortable? What will make me feel secure?
Allow me to use various modern examples.
Why do women abort their children?
Why do people pay too much for a car?
Why do people over-eat?
Why do people disobey their parents?
Why do people steal?
Why do people cheat on their spouses?
It all boils down to what will make me feel more secure, more satisfied.
In my biblical counseling ministry, every marital issue, every parenting issue finds its root in the fact that everyone involved was trying to achieve a level of satisfaction.
The child’s pursuit of satisfaction coerced him to disobey his parents. The father’s pursuit of security tempted him to lash out at the boy for his continued disobedience. The mother’s pursuit of safety convinced her to believe her husband was parenting the wrong way.
Every choice you and your kids make is going to boil down to the fact that you believed your choice was going to provide the most personal satisfaction.
4. Why is the pursuit of security so dangerous?
In my original show notes for Iron Sharpens Iron Radio I made the observation that discomfort, danger, fear, and weakness send us on lifelong search for perceived safety. And we’ve already established that this lifelong search starts at infancy. In the womb a preborn child will protect himself by moving away from the ultrasonic frequencies of an ultrasound.
I also wrote a more specific observation. I posited that we live in a more violent world than recent generations, though definitely not more violent than previous centuries and millennia. I think a contemporary parental concern grows from the fact that violence is being viewed more and more as an acceptable response to disagreement.
Let’s just list some of the most basic security concerns parents have: illness, pain, violence, negative influences, and kidnapping are almost daily concerns that scare many modern parents.
But the pursuit of security is actually more dangerous than the things from which we’re trying to protect ourselves.
The pursuit of security can be more dangerous than kidnapping or rape or murder.
Why? Well, because — like we saw on the last point — choosing incorrectly will result in far more dangerous consequences.
Eve’s pursuit of security damned the entire human race and resulted in the universe being cursed and God having to die to redeem us.
Ananias and Sapphira’s attempt to be satisfied resulted in their death.
Akin’s selfish desire to steal himself some safety resulted in the death of his entire family.
Therefore, we can know that every single person in your family regardless of their age is surrounded by physical and spiritual danger and/or discomfort. And each of them makes thousands of decisions throughout the course of his or her day to sidestep that danger and discomfort. And each of those decisions is motivated by a longing for security amidst the danger and discomfort.
No one makes the decision they believe will result in more danger and discomfort and dissatisfaction. We all do what we believe will provide us the most security.
That’s why some people read their Bibles and others don’t. That’s why some people lie while others tell the truth. That’s why some people wait to have sex until they’re married and others do not. They’re all doing the thing they believe will result in their happiness.
So, how does one choose? How do we not make the same mistake that Eve and Akin made? How can we know for sure what the safest and most secure and most satisfying choice is?
How do we not end up like the people in I Thessalonians 5:3 who will say “Peace and safety!” but “then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.”
And this is where the Merest Christianity comes in. What do you believe?
You would think that we could approach this scientifically. We have all the information and life experiences we need to say that B+C=Dissatisfaction and P+R=Satisfaction, but it doesn’t matter what we know our experiences tell us. It’s all about what we believe.
This is why people don’t listen to history. This is why there are socialists living in America. They haven’t experienced the atrocities of socialism, but it doesn’t matter. They have the the history of the world, they have the testimony of the people who are currently living in socialistic countries who desperately want to escape to America. But even though they know those things, they believe that socialism is the answer.
So . . .
5. How can we have victory over this parenting challenge?
Again, I‘m not going to itemize the best way to baby proof your home or guarantee that your teen never gets in a car accident.
As I already mentioned, the physical safety of your family pales in comparison to their spiritual safety. Many Christians have been tortured to death only to be ushered into the eternal rest of their Savior King. Others have gained the whole world but eventually lost their souls to eternal torment.
The spiritual is far more important, and it’s the crux of this point.
Every day the single biggest parenting challenge you are going to face is that your kids are — right now — being tempted to choose the wrong satisfaction. They’re believing the lie that security is going to come in ways you know are dangerous. Right now your kids are believing the lie that safety is found in all the wrong pursuits.
But how can we and our kids — in every situation — make the most secure choice? How can we teach our children to make the safest decision? How does our family know what is genuinely satisfying?
I’ll answer the questions with a question. Who get’s to define your family vocabulary?
If dad and mom and child all get to define satisfaction for themselves — however they want — no one will be happy.
If dad and child have to submit to mom’s definition of satisfaction . . . not one’s going to be happy. And the same goes for the family having to submit to any one person’s definition of satisfaction.
The world is a perfect example of this. Individuals, organizations, governments, nations, they all believe they know what will be the best option for everyone, but it only results in arguments and fights and wars.
And you should know where this is going.
God is the only one who gets to define reality. The Bible is excessively clear where true security lies. God has verbosely explained how to be safe. And He has gloriously revealed what true satisfaction is.
Psalms 37 and 91 tell us exactly how to live securely. Proverbs 2 does the same thing.
Those are all longer passages, so I’ll choose the shorter of the three.
Psalm 91, “1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” 3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper And from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with His pinions And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. 5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; 6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. 7 A thousand may fall at your side And ten thousand at your right hand, But it shall not approach you. 8 You will only look on with your eyes And see the recompense of the wicked. 9 For you have made the Lord, my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place. 10 No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. 11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. 12 They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down. 14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. 15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 “With a long life I will satisfy him And let him see My salvation.”
In Psalm 4:8 David proclaims, “You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.”
This is why Proverbs 13:25 teaches us that “The righteous has enough to satisfy his appetite,
But the stomach of the wicked is in need.”
And this is why the wisest man to ever live ends Ecclesiastes — the chronicle of his pursuit of pleasures — with these powerful words: “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14 For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
God has been perfectly clear from the beginning. But Adam and Eve didn’t listen. Cain didn’t listen. Cain thought the most satisfying thing he could do is remove his goody-two-shoes brother from the equation. But he was wrong.
Satan thought he knew better than God. Judas thought he knew better than God. Paul thought he knew better than God. We think we know better than God.
Psalm 2 tells us, “Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 3 ‘Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!””
Romans 1:21-23 unfolds the depressing tale that “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”
And verses 28-32 show the consequences of rejecting God’s reality: “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”
That is the future of every child who doesn’t believe that the Lord, He is God. Families who don’t honor the Lord or give thanks to Him but instead do not see fit to acknowledge Him any longer are going to be given over to a depraved mind that will work itself out in all of the ways listed in Romans 1.
This today is your biggest parenting challenge. You must choose for yourself, and you must teach your family that submitting to God’s will is the only way we will ever have security and safety and satisfaction in this life because God alone gets to define those terms. He is loving and powerful and merciful and gracious and wise enough to know exactly what we need at every moment of the day.
We teach this by being biblical parents who speak God’s Words in our parenting and who have parenting Bibles as thick as the Bible itself. We teach this by assembling as often as possible with a Christ-honoring body of local believers. We teach this by one-anothering. We teach this by being salt and light in our community. We teach this by making the biblical choice even when it will result in persecution. We teach this by engaging in redemptive discipling relationships. We teach this by giving God the preeminence in our home that He deserves.
Worshipping God, submitting to His Truth, celebrating Him in the most mundane decisions of our day is the only way that our families will ever be secure.
If you want to help other unwitting parents discover the security that comes in Christ, please share this episode on your favorite social media outlets.
If we want our children to experience the satisfaction that comes from growing up into Christ, we must parent in truth and love. So I hope you’ll join us next time as we open God’s Word to discover how to parent our children for life and godliness.
To that end, we’ll be talking with Lynna Sutherland about “How the Gospel Reshapes Sibling Conflict Resolution.”
And then — on part two of this series — we’ll be discussing the next concentric parenting challenge we will ever face. And — believe it or not — it involves our technology.
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