Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Confronting the Idols of a Modern-Day Culture: An Excerpt from Season of Change

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I spent my middle and high school years submerged in the 1980s. The rampant materialism of the day was like an IV in the arm of idolatry. The media was not as far-reaching then, but through movies, television, pop music, and fashion magazines, it still managed to erect idols in my soul: the idol of glamour, the forbidden, foolish vanity, and unwarranted pride. I had an enemy! And I still do. As parents, we must warn our children of the enemy and help them defeat him, first by surrendering our own idols, and then, by developing a daily battle plan.

Making a decision for Christ opposes the idols of the world. It confronts the culture with His truth, taking on many forms in order to reach all people with His message. When you receive too much change and give it back to the store clerk, when you befriend a stranger, when you overlook a wrong, and when you pray for those who hurt you, you are confronting the culture. But does that make a real difference? It can potentially make a life or death difference, if, as the apostle Peter taught, you are “ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy” (1 Peter 3:15b, Msg). We can challenge the way things are by choosing the way God meant them to be. We can be set apart, and so can our kids.

Confronting the idols in our modern-day culture means choosing a lifestyle that is set apart—not one that is tucked away. We must live boldly according to God’s precepts, engaging a people who are desperate for His abundant life, showing them a different way to go. Our children need to see that alternate route, as well. They will best resist the pull of the world if they are standing firm on right choices—choices they have learned to make, one after the other, over their growing-up years.

The last thing your middler needs is a religion full of don’ts. He needs a relationship with Jesus Christ—a personal connection that is as integral to everyday decisions as it is to life’s major crossroads. Truly, the middle school years are a time when the everyday decisions seem like major crossroads. What to wear, what band to listen to, what friends to hang out with—these are all monumental moments in the life of a middler. Because of their desperate need for peer-approval, coupled with their desire to blend in, many kids will go along with the crowd because it’s the easy thing to do. The idol of convenience tempts them to take the easy way out, so fitting in and going along with the crowd is far easier than thinking through and taking a stand provoked by conviction. As parents, we must teach our kids how to navigate the multitude of choices the world presents. We have to help them learn how to think through things. For example, if your child begins to show an interest in a secular band that doesn’t meet your approval, find a similar Christian band and purchase their CDs. Then begin asking the tough questions. If it is the type of music that was appealing (country, rock, hip-hop), the problem is solved. But if it is the band’s worldliness, their lyrics, or their lifestyle that your teen found attractive, you need to find out why—and your child, also, needs to confront his attraction to sin.

Excerpted from Season of Change: Parenting Your Middle Schooler with Passion and Purpose by Rebecca Ingram Powell. All rights reserved. May not be used without permission.

Season of Change is available now on Kindle!

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