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I’m your host AMBrewster and today we’re going to come face to face with the reality that there are a lot — lot, lot, lot — of dangerous influences in this world, but it’s quite possible that the single most dangerous of them all has already made it into your home.
Despite all of your best efforts, this one sneaked by.
And you probably think you know where I’m going with this. It’s technology. Yeah, that tech just funnels all the worst influences in the world right into your kids’ eyes.
And though technology can definitely introduce very wicked influences into your home, that is not the topic of today’s show.
But before we get too much further, let me invite you to get to know Evermind Ministries.
Evermind Ministries has been serving God’s people for fifteen years by keeping God’s truth at the center of the human experience. It started as a blog called Taking Back the Bible and grew to include ministries you know and love like Truth.Love.Family., The Year Long Celebration of God, and its newest ministry, Faithtree Biblical Counseling & Discipleship.
Since this is Evermind’s 15th Anniversary, I thought it was a good idea to share with you the dream that eventually started this podcast.
In the fall of 2006 I was newly married, my wife was expecting a baby, and I was still actively looking for a ministry. I had graduated with my masters of science in counseling in 2005, and I was chomping at the bit to get into full-time Christian service.
That opportunity came in the fall of 2007.
I had just taken a job at a Christian school in Illinois where I would eventually become one of the associate administrators and teach on the high school faculty, and where I would serve for seven years, but — at the time — I was hired to teach 6th grade. And it wasn’t long before I absolutely fell in love with that age group.
But I quickly realized that the 6th graders — who had been attending this Christian school for years and years and many of whom who had parents who professed to be Christians — so many of my students had very little working knowledge of the Scriptures and how they were designed by God to inform our living.
And that’s when I started to really understand how God’s truth could — and must — be woven into every fiber of our day.
It was never going to be okay for any moment of our existence to exclude God. All people everywhere need to submit to God’s preeminence in all things, and the seed for Evermind Ministries was planted and quickly grew.
My first post for Evermind’s blog, Taking Back the Bible, was published on November 8th, 2007. And ever since I and our volunteers have been striving to keep God’s Word at the center of the human experience . . . every human experience.
As the year progresses, we’re going to highlight the various Evermind Ministries, and we pray that they all can be a blessing to you.
In the meantime, I pray that today’s topic, free episode notes, transcript, and related parenting resources help you keep God’s Word at the center of your parenting.
I also hope that our Wisdom talk on Wednesday, April 23rd at 11:30am ET will further clarify and apply the lessons we’re going to learn today.
Be sure to download the Wisdom App on you iPhone, follow me @AMBrewster, and join the conversation on Wednesday at 11:30am ET.
Bring your questions, your additions, and your challenges. I look forward to taking more time to make this information even more valuable for you.
There is no cost for the Wisdom discussions, so I pray you’ll all take advantage of them even if you can’t be free at 11:30 ET. All of the past discussions can be easily accessed.
Alright, let’s keep God’s truth at the center of our parenting by getting into today’s topic.
Picture for me, if you will, all the things in the world that may be dangerous to your children. Some things are only a danger to children of certain ages, like bathtubs. Other things are a danger to everyone — like drug dealers and rapists and Satan. And still other items may be beneficial or dangerous — like cars and fire.
The reality is that — humanly speaking — the world is full of destructive influences, devices, ideas, cities, machines, and governments. But we mustn’t dwell on them too much because to do so would be to take our eyes off Christ — His sovereignty and His love.
Still, there’s one element that has the potential to hurt our children in ways we almost can’t imagine. But despite the fact that our kids interact with this object every day, multiple times of day, and despite the fact there’s only one thing in this world more destructive . . . most parents aren’t even aware of its dangerous potential.
Let me introduce this influence to you by way of a story.
I can say that the day my son was born, I didn’t know anything more about parenting than I did the day before, but staring into his face I was overwhelmed with a sense of reality. The realization that I would be responsible to teach him his colors and numbers, to protect him physically and spiritually, and to introduce him to the milieu of experiences God had for his young life bore down on me with an almost physical weight.
Over the next few years my wife and I our understood that our son was like me in so many ways and yet like her in so many others. We joked that he was 50% me and and 50% Johanna.
Silly though that observation may be, it dawned on me that he got a double-whammy. He struggled in sin in areas with which I had too long been addicted, but he also rolled around in the sinful mire my wife grew up battling. As I tried to look into his future, I saw him having to wage war with a frightening mix of temptations. Like you, my wife and I made far more wicked choices than we care to publish. Both of our teen years were unfortunate displays of self-worship and relational carnage.
And then my daughter was born.
It didn’t take too long to realize that she was 100% me . . . and 100% my wife!
And the wave of dread that slammed over me left me a little light-headed.
Of course, my children aren’t me or my wife. They’re them, and though they may struggle with many of the same temptations, they don’t have to give in the same ways my wife and I so often did.
But the story’s not done yet.
As our children grew I realized just how much they took after us in the way they looked, talked, gestured, ate, thought, argued, complained, yelled, disobeyed, and rebelled. And it wasn’t because of who my wife and I were in our past. Come to find out, our children were just copying the only people in the house they had to observe. My kids started judging like me. They started arguing like my wife. Our kids started being dictators like me, and they started getting drunk like my wife.
Okay, that last part was a joke. Everything was getting a little too heavy and depressing!
Seriously, though, I don’t know about you, but if I forgot how awesome my God was and really thought about the possibility of my kids growing up to be just like me . . . I’d be petrified!
I’m pretty sure you can see where I’m going here.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interacted with someone else’s child and thought to myself, “What kind of a parent would allow their child to be like this?” But when I meet their parents I think, “Oh, that kind.”
Now, I know that might sound harsh, but we’ve all thought it, and no doubt many people have thought that about my kids!
Ladies and gentlemen, second only to indwelling sin, we parents are the most potentially destructive influence in the lives of our children.
And this is true for three stark reasons:
1. Who we were affects our children.
Four of the books in the Pentateuch discuss the concept of “the iniquity of the fathers.” Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy all use the same phrase: “visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Now, I don’t want to spent too much time on this, but since it’s a difficult doctrine, I want to discuss it for a moment.
Have you ever thought of the unique nature of sin — how it affects the spiritual and the physical? What is personality and why do our children’s so often mirror ours? Why is one person tempted to one kind of sin more than someone else?
We can’t answer these questions conclusively because the Bible doesn’t address them directly. But I’d like to present a sanctified hypothesis. Just as all men inherited their sin nature from Adam, so — more specifically — we inherited our sin nature from our fathers.
And we, on the flip side, literally pass our sins down to our kids. Unfortunately, righteousness isn’t genetic the way sin is.
What this doesn’t mean is that our kids will be held responsible for the sins I’ve committed. But my children will likely struggle with the same temptations, sinful habits, and self-worshipping addictions to which I’ve given in because they’ve inherited it from me just like they got my unattached earlobes and my wife’s stunning good looks.
In fact, the first time this idea was presented was when Moses received the Law from God. The first words of the Father on this occasion were, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Upon hearing this, Moses proclaimed, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.”
I know exactly how Moses felt!
And at this point you may be feeling a little depressed because it seems like there’s nothing we can do about this point. The past is the past. But there are two things to keep in mind.
Knowing what sins we struggled with can help us see what our children may fall into and be able to prepare them better.
We can use this point to encourage our children and young members of the Body of Christ to be ever vigilant lest they develop sin patterns that they may pass to their kids.
It’s important to recognize that my children were conceived in sin, and that sin was mine.
2. Who we are now affects our children.
As I’ve mentioned before, our kids were created by God to learn. The ability for a child to process, memorize, interpret, and utilize information is staggering! And they spend the bulk of their formative years observing us!
In addition to that, they have a natural love and affection that causes them to imitate us over the other individuals in their lives.
Whether it’s our poor diets, negative responses to hardship, cutting words, pride, our vanity, our excuses, or our hypocrisy . . . our children will likely learn it.
Even if I do my best to teach my kids to be humble, my arrogant lifestyle will quickly and more efficiently educate them in pride. “Do what I say and not what I do” has never worked.
If you don’t want to be a dangerous influence on your children, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Obviously, the affect we have on our children should not be our sole goal for our own spiritual growth, but I think it would behoove us to allow the reality to impact us: our children will find it easier to emulate our sinful behavior than they will our sanctified choices.
And obviously this will continue to be the case.
3. Who we will be affects our children.
If I don’t get a handle on my loose tongue or wanton video-gaming, if I don’t submit to God’s will for my eating, if I keep returning to my selfishness as a dog returns to its vomit, my children will likely continue excelling in my school of depravity.
And, though my kids will be held responsible for their choices, I will be to blame for illustrating for them all the ways to deny God and worship self.
At this point, I don't know if we could go any lower. I’ve done my best to paint a pretty horrific picture.
You know why? Because we parents need to stop lying to ourselves. We need to stop excusing our sin as we punish our children for the same things. We need to take responsibility for the fact that our daughter inherited her cutting tongue from me. We need to man up and acknowledge that our sons are so arrogant on the court because they spent too much time with us.
But . . .
Yes, I said, “but.”
It was during episode 35 that our guest, Tim Challies noted that even with all the negative influences in their lives, so many kids turn out so well. He said, “God’s grace is so amazing that there’e great hope for us [in parenting]. God has amazing ways of working beyond our abilities — beyond what we actually think we know.”
God is gracious to our children, and one of the significant ways he shows that grace is through us. In the same way that parents are the most potentially destructive influence the lives of their children, they’re also the most potentially beneficial influence in the lives of their children.
To be honest, that’s why God gave them to you in the first place. Whether your kids are step, adopted, biological, or fostered, God has given them to you in this time of their lives because you are the one He wants to use to help them glorify Him.
You have been given your children because — with God’s Truth, love, and power — you are the ones he intends to teach your children to live in the reality of God. You are the ones He’s talking to when he says, “You shall teach [My words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
It’s true that your kids will likely sin like you, but it’s also true that your children are blessed to be born into your homes. You’ve been called to be the Ambassadorial First-Follower to point them God. Who you are now for God and who you will be for God can influence your children more powerfully than your sinful choices can.
Why is that? Because Satan might be able to use your sinful choices to tempt your kids to the same, but God the Holy Spirit can actually fill your children and give them the grace and strength to follow your Christ-honoring example!
Isn’t being a parent a glorious blessing?!
Be diligent, mom and dad. Your influence is paramount. Make sure you’re a good influence and not a bad one.
If you’d like to learn how to not lose your positive influence, please check out episode 4, called “Don’t Lost Your Influence.”
And if the phrase “Ambassadorial First-Follower” confused you, please listen to episode 7 to learn about being a First-Follower, and episode 26 to study the concept of the Ambassador Parent.
We here at Evermind Ministries and Truth.Love.Family. thrill to share God’s hope-giving Word. Please Subscribe to our podcast and Share this episode. And please Rate and Review. We want more and more people to learn to be intentional, premeditated parents.
I hope you’ll join us next time as we once again open God’s Word to discover how to parent our children for life and godliness.
To that end, we’ll be looking forward to Season 22!
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