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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Parenting In an Obsessed Culture

I know i’m not the only one heartbroken over seeing children struggle with selfishness stirred up by advertisements or by the things their friends have that they don’t. There is always someone with more stuff. This is aggravated by the cruelty of some of their “friends” who make fun of those who don’t have the right kind of phone, shoes, clothes, hair, face, body, toys, car, computer, or muscles. These “idols” are wrapped up together for kids in our society in a giant mess perfectly aimed to crush them into a lifestyle that demands that they comply. 

We can get angry and scream. We can manipulate and beg. We can try to make them feel guilty or work to boost their lagging self-esteem. We can warn prospective boyfriends of the dangers of misbehaving with our daughters and threaten our sons with dire consequences for such behavior. We can put controls on their internet usage and should. We can monitor their friends. We can not give in to the pressure for our kids to have what other kids have. This is a real temptation for me as a parent. Paying attention to all of these things is the obvious job of a parent and is of concern to anyone who cares about children. But none of these measures alone will address the issues of the heart. They will only address behavior. What chance do we have to help our kids? One thing is for sure, we are going to need to learn how to apply the gospel to our own weakness in being influence by the idols of money, sex, and power. Then we must pray for the wisdom and the power to lovingly lead our children through this maze of temptation that threatens to not just destroy their lives but our whole society. 

The later part of Deuteronomy 6 speaks to how the gospel addresses the idols of an affluent culture. This Sunday at Bethany Place I will conclude the message series on Applying the Gospel to the Family Circus by preaching from that text. You can see the outline and prayer guide below. 

Parenting In an Obsessed Culture
Applying the gospel to the idols of money, sex and power
Deuteronomy 6:10-25

Recognize the real presence of idols
Deuteronomy 6:10–15 (ESV)10 “And when the Lord your God brings you into the land that he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you—with great and good cities that you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant—and when you eat and are full, 12 then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. 14 You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— 15 for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.

Help children evaluate trends against God’s commands 
Deuteronomy 6:16–19 (ESV)16 “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. 17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his testimonies and his statutes, which he has commanded you. 18 And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, that it may go well with you, and that you may go in and take possession of the good land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers 19 by thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.

Make clear that only the gospel can empower us to obey
Deuteronomy 6:20–25 (ESV)20 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 And the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes. 23 And he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in and give us the land that he swore to give to our fathers. 24 And the Lord commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. 25 And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us.’

Suggestions for praying through this text
  • Pray that God would reveal to us ways that we and children we care about are influenced by our culture’s obsession with acquiring stuff, popularity, and sexual appeal.
  • That God would open our eyes to how our relative affluence affects our ability to pursue these obsessions.
  • That we will have the courage and wisdom to consistently apply the standards of the word of God to cultural influences in our lives without running off into extremes of either immersion or isolation.
  • Pray that God would powerfully reveal to each of us that the beauty of the gospel is the only medicine that can cure our infatuation with these idols.
  • Pray that we will know and remember the gospel well so that we will know how to apply it with wisdom in the moment of temptation and to help children we love do the same.


  1. LOVE this. Thanks for pointing out how we have to look at the heart issues and not just deal with external behaviors; and, that we must do this ourselves if we are going to lead our kids in that. Definitely witnessed you and Kat live this out with your kids...they turned out pretty amazing. Tyler and I will be coming to you for advice when we have PKs of our own, so get ready. ;-)

  2. That's hysterical and thank you for the kind words. You guys will be amazing. We have to figure out a way to see you both when you come to town even though we are further away now.