Temptation and Opportunity
About the Guest
When your kids leave home, what temptations will they face? Best-selling authors Michael and Hayley DiMarco reveal three truths about temptation, and encourage parents to teach their teens to handle temptation before they come knocking. The DiMarco's also remind students that college is the most opportunity rich time in their lives, and to use this time wisely.
When your kids leave home, what temptations will they face?
Temptation and Opportunity
Bob: A lot of young people are headed off to college or university. Maybe they are headed to high school for the first time, maybe even junior high for the first time. Each of those young men or women is beginning a new chapter in their lives, and the moms and dads need to be ready to appropriately let go of those kids. Here’s Michael DiMarco.
Michael: I picture so many parents today running as fast as they can, holding the shaft of the arrow, trying to run with it and be the flight, and afraid that the winds of the Holy Spirit—to use this picture—will direct them in a dangerous path. “I’ll let you go on a mission trip to Panama City, Florida; but I won’t let you go to Mexico,” or, “I’ll let you go to Mexico, but I won’t let you go to Yemen.” We feel like, “These are our kids. These are our possessions. We need to protect them,”—but they’re really God’s.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 14th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. It’s a delicate balance for us, as parents, to know when to hang on and when to start letting go. We’re going to talk more about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. You know, when you think about the years, right after high school—whether it’s in the military service, or at college, or in the workplace—those years when young people unplug from the home structure and start to spread their wings, which is—it’s the right and appropriate thing to do; right?
Dennis: Yes. It has to happen.
Bob: But when that happens, it seems like there are all kinds of new, fresh temptations, that weren’t there before, that are there now. For example, when I went off to college, there was a place that was about five blocks from campus called The Tap Room. It seems like that was a popular place for a number of students to go, even students who did not—it had nothing to do with tap dancing, alright? And it was not—
[Tapping sound effects]
Dennis: It wasn’t tapping?
Bob: It was not tapping on the door, no. [Laughter] Lots of students went there and even students who did not have a driver’s license that—
Dennis: I’m trying to picture you in The Tap Room. [Laughing]
Bob: —made it possible to get alcoholic beverages. They could go with somebody who did have that driver’s license and apparently that guy could buy two. At least, this is what I heard. I can’t give any personal testimony to this. But when I was in high school, there was no Tap Room five blocks away from where I lived. When I was in college, it was right around the corner. That’s where people went and they had fun.
Dennis: And there was no freedom, had there been one, because you were living under the authority—
Bob: Well, I had ways. I had ways! [Laughing]
Dennis: Well, we all know that you more than likely—you likely did, but we are talking about the whole concept of independence day, when our sons and daughters are launched into life, whether that be college, to service, to work, perhaps maybe leaving home to get married—but they need coaching and they need a good send-off.
Fortunately, our friends, Michael and Hayley DiMarco, have helped us out by writing a book called Independence Day, which is designed to be given—right, Michael — to your son or daughter?
Michael: That’s right. Well, not my son or daughter because I only have a daughter; and she’s seven. Actually, not just to sons or daughters—but, also, the cool thing about this book, that I think is really unique—is it’s definitely rooted in Scripture, but I used a really slow kind of reveal towards the spiritual in this—so it works for even a gift for a non-Christian friend that—
Bob: A young man or woman that hasn’t been in church can still benefit from this book.
Michael: That’s right. Yes, and hopefully eternally, by the time they get to the end.
Dennis: You guys have written a number of books for youth over the years and have been very successful in that. I found it interesting in the book, Michael, that you told a story about graduation night—after you’d graduated and you were dancing with this babe who whispers something in your ear. She confesses something to you.
Michael: Yes. I was clueless, which is evidently in my DNA because it wasn’t something I outgrew. [Laughter]
Bob: Hasn’t gone away.
Michael: No, but I was clueless about girls. Yes, a girl cheerleader asked me to dance, like the last slow dance of the night. She said, “I’ve had the biggest crush on you. Why did you never ask me out?” We’re both graduating seniors. I’m like, “Uh-h-h.” My answer was, “Because I’m stupid!” At least, I was as self-aware then as I am now. [Laughter] Then, I had some lame response of, “Well, maybe we can get together this summer;” but she was moving off out of state, like within the next week—and pfft, it was gone.
Hayley: As quick as it came.
Dennis: So, you run into this young lady, years later, at a reunion—a high school reunion?
Michael: Yes, decades, yes.
Michael: She, at the time—back up a little bit—when I was a senior in high school, I had thought I was going to be a police officer. I was starting to serve in the police reserves in my local police department. I wanted to get married at a young age because my father and mother had me late in life. My father was retired and had gray hair at my graduation. They said, “Oh, your grandpa came to graduation.” So, I really wanted this.
Fast forward to the class reunion—she’s married, has a bunch of kids, married a police officer. It just—[Laughter]
Bob: It could have been your life; huh?
Michael: Right. In my high-school mind, that was my dream life.
Bob: It’s interesting that you share that story in the book, especially as you look around the theme of temptation, which is one of the things that young people are facing as they face independence day. Girls are not just whispering in guys’ ears today, “I have a crush on you.” They’re whispering a lot more than that—
Michael: And they’re not whispering.
Bob: Yes! I’m thinking, here, about launching my son—my smart, good-looking young man—off to college and going, “What’s he going to do if that happens—when that happens? What would I have done if that had happened?” Those are hard circumstances that are facing young men and women as they head toward independence day.
Michael: Exactly. I say in the book that there are three truths about temptation: everyone’s tempted, everyone falls, but not everyone falls as far.
Michael: So, in preparing for our independence days in life, especially the big one of high school or college graduation, it’s important to realize that temptation has a purpose. There’s actually an upside to temptation as well as the huge downside. The upside to temptation is that temptation is good because it reveals where we can be weakest.
For me, I am not tempted to overindulge in tap dancing, like you were as a college—[Laughter] —I’m not tempted by alcohol, either. I’m just not; but in the area of like donuts, that’s a bigger temptation.
Bob: That’s a different deal; right?
Michael: Right. So I know that I need more self-control there. I know I need to be more mindful in those areas. Temptation does have an upside in that, when we’re tempted, it’s a yellow to red flag that says, “This is an area of my life that I need God in.”
Dennis: It’s interesting—the Bible speaks about temptation from Genesis to Revelation. I’ll never forget this—and it was back in a time, not when I got my independence day —but Barbara and I had been married about 20 years. There were some things occurring in her life and in our life, as a couple, that I was dealing with. It was a time when there were temptations.
I listened to a series of broadcasts, as I jogged, by Charles Stanley. It was 20 cassette tapes. I had no idea the Bible had that much to say about temptation. I have to say that listening to that teaching was really instructive to me—not only as a man, as a husband, and a father who wanted to instruct his own children—but it really formed a core to say, “We’ve got to equip the next generation to know how to handle this.”
Hayley, what I’d ask you—you’ve got a seven-year-old daughter. How do you want to help her? What do you want to equip her to do when it comes to temptation because she will be free, and she will experience temptation, and opportunity?
Hayley: Wow. Well, I think there are a lot of temptations that are gradual—which, donuts might be a good example—where we start to indulge in something because of the way it makes us feel. It’s not too bad because it’s just one donut.
Bob: And a donut is not sinful. I mean, you’re not—
Hayley: Right. No, it’s not sinful, a donut; right? No; but as you start to want to indulge, and you start thinking about donuts more often, and you start wanting them regularly, to the point where they start to consume you—you see where, then, you have this temptation of—well, for my analogy, we’re talking about this gluttony of donuts. If I can instill in her the concept of idolatry—of, “Where do you place your worship?” In the beginning, it’s not sin, like you said; but as we start to worship it more, it becomes a sin. I think that’s the problem for a lot of young people.
Bob: I think you’ve hit on something that’s very important with teenagers because we can have a tendency to want to impose moral structure around a young person and get them thinking that their spiritual life is that moral behavior—
Hayley: That’s right; right.
Bob: —rather than having them understand the heart issues—because, back to donuts, a donut is not a sin.
Bob: The sin issue for you, Michael, is gluttony or being controlled by this obsession that you got to—it’s hot, and it’s ready, and so it becomes controlling behavior. This is where I really think we have to help teenagers see it’s not the donut—it’s the heart that’s the issue—so that they understand that the relationship with God is not about how I—
Bob: —how I check off the rules. It’s about how I relate to God.
Michael: When I was in high school, I had a shop teacher. At the very beginning of shop class—the first shop class that you’d ever take with him—he would talk about safety around the band saw and the table saw. He would talk, and he would do this demonstration, with four fingers, because that’s all he had.
Michael: When you noticed that he only had four fingers, and he’s talking about safety around a table saw and a band saw—
Bob: You pay attention.
Michael: —you paid more attention. That’s kind of how I wrote this book, as a four-fingered author. That’s why I’m so open about this. I try to talk about the three areas where most temptations come from—those three areas being appetite, which we’ve already covered with donuts—but it also has to do with stuff that you buy and relationships and love. Also, beyond appetite, there’s affirmation—people-pleasing, doing things to be part of the crowd, peer pressure.
Dennis: Yes, yes.
Michael: And then the third is ambition—doing whatever it takes—sacrificing your morals, your faith, for achievement.
Then, I draw that parallel in towards the end, with the story of Jesus going out to the wilderness in Matthew 4—those three temptations—and try to draw that parallel so we can reverse-engineer for students how temptation happens and use different examples from each three.
Dennis: We’ve talked about freedom. We’ve talked about temptation and equipping your son or daughter to handle that. We haven’t talked as much about opportunity. What’s at the core of opportunity, as you launch that child toward independence?
Michael: One of the coolest things about independence day —about high school graduation, especially—is we can all look back on that time. If you give anyone that tempting thought, “If you could go back to any point in your life and start over, where would you start?” most people go to high school because of all of the opportunities, all of the bad choices that they made, all of the missed opportunities all started after that. It’s the most opportunity-rich moment in any young person’s life.
What I like to try and encourage young people to think about is that, especially in this day and age of technological advance where the world is smaller because of the internet, and cell phones, and free long distance, you have so much opportunity to make a difference and to leave a mark. I think that this generation of young people could be the next great generation if they would just see the opportunity that they have to affect the world for Christ.
Dennis: I want you both to comment on this because you’re kind of standing on my soapbox here.
Michael: Oh, sorry.
Dennis: I mean, I really believe we are under-challenging this next generation, spiritually speaking, to make an impact on their world. It doesn’t begin 20 years from today—it begins in elementary school, and junior high, and high school. Then, as you move toward independence day, it’s a natural outflow so that they think about making an impact at work, or in service, or at college. Wherever they go, they have that DNA of spiritual multiplication, of being about the King of Kings’ business, and not just living for self.
Bob: And not waiting to do that until you’re graduated from college or until you’re at some landmark.
Dennis: Or until you make enough money so you can be independently-wealthy so you can serve God; okay?
Bob: Yes; to give a teenager the idea that, “You’re involved in Kingdom work right now,” and, “You can have significant impact for the Kingdom right now. You don’t have to wait until you have a degree to do that.”
Michael: This goes back to the launching of the arrow. I picture so many parents today running as fast as they can, holding the shaft of the arrow, trying to run with it and be the flight. So few parents are really launching their children with velocity, and trusting God to use them, and afraid that the winds of the Holy Spirit—to use this picture—will direct them in a dangerous path.
“I’ll let you go on a mission trip to Panama City, Florida; but I won’t let you go to Mexico,” or, “I’ll let you go to Mexico, but I won’t let you go to Yemen.” We feel like, “These are our kids. These are our possessions. We are going to protect them,” —but they’re really God’s.
Bob: I have to tell you—when our daughter, Amy, was about to graduate from college, she called and she said, “I really think I know what’s next for me.” We said, “What is that?” She said, “Well, there’s this organization, ELIC, the English Language Institute of China.” She said, “They’re looking for teachers to teach; but” she said, “where I really want to teach is not China, but Vietnam.”
Then, I remember her calling and saying, “I’ve been accepted. They’re going to send me to Vietnam, me and another teacher.” She said, “As far as we know, we’ll be the only two Christians in this town of 250,000 people.” I remember thinking, “Somebody else’s kid can go do that; right? I mean, you should go somewhere where there’s a nice church that you can be a part of and all of that.”
I had just been to see the movie, Gods and Generals, when it came out, about Stonewall Jackson. The quote, that’s apparently authentic with Stonewall Jackson—that was in the movie—that I’d never heard before—bullets flying past him on the battlefield. Somebody asked him, “How do you keep your composure when there are bullets flying past you?” He said, “My theology teaches me that I am as safe on the battlefield as I am in my bedroom if I’m in the will of God.”
I had to come away from that and say, “My daughter is as safe in Vietnam as she is at home in Little Rock if she’s in the will of God.” She can get killed in a car wreck in Little Rock.
Michael: Did you say, “—the will of Bob?” [Laughter]
Bob: That’s what I was thinking; yes, but it’s not what I said. That was a paradigm shift. I remember Mary Ann and me both having to go, “Do we really believe God’s in control? She’s His more than she’s ours. Let go, —”
Bob: — “launch.” It’s not easy, but it’s right.
Dennis: Well, I’m just thinking about independence day. We call it a day because it does occur at a point in time, but Deuteronomy 6 talks about teaching your children all the way up to the point of that day—when you rise up, when you walk by the way, you put them as frontals on your forehead and on the gateposts. It’s to be a lifestyle of teaching and making an impact on our children.
Some of our listeners remember me sharing this verse because I read this at each of our children’s independence day”—
Bob: You’re not going to read this. This is going to make me cry again, just because I’ve read this to my kids, too. It [deep sigh] —
Dennis: This is the verse to read as you’re pulling the bow back, with the arrow hooked up there; and you’re going to launch it to college, to service, whatever it’s going to be because this really summarizes what it’s all about. Philippians, Chapter 2, verse 12, “Therefore, my beloved,” —and I always cried my way through this. This was really tough. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed,” —well, maybe not always, but— “as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence, but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling for it is God who works in you both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent.”
One of the times I read this passage, I was sitting on the back of a pickup truck. We were watching fraternity brothers carry kegs into the fraternity house, as I was about to launch the arrow to go into that house. Here’s where the rest of the passage is the payoff. “Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God, without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ, I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
At that point, I changed it and I said, “...so that in that day your mom and I may be proud that we did not run in vain or labor in vain.”
And you guys know—you have a daughter—parenting is hard work; but if you really follow the playbook of Scripture and are modeling all these things we’ve talked about—how to fail, how to confess sin, how to pass on the life of Christ to your kids, how to give them a mission, how to think about their lives and making an impact, independence day can be the beginning of something truly great in your son or daughter’s life.
Thank you, guys, for writing this book. This is going to be a fun book for, not only moms and dads to give their son or daughter as they go to college, or work, or service, but also some aunts and uncles and grandparents who are looking—they are looking for just one more brick in the cathedral that they are building in that child’s life.
Bob: This is a book that a young person can read through easily, quickly. These issues of freedom, and temptation, and opportunity—these are issues that a student ought to think about before they take the next step. Some of us have already deposited our sons and daughters on the college campus because everything’s getting started right now. It wouldn’t hurt to send this book to your son or daughter, along with a care package, as they begin their freshman year of college; or if they’re going to be home over Labor Day, you can give the book to them at the Labor Day break.
Go to FamilyLifeToday.com for more information on Michael and Hayley DiMarco’s book, Independence Day. Again, our website is FamilyLifeToday.com. You can also call us, toll-free, at 1-800-FL-TODAY; 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”. Ask about the book, Independence Day, by Michael DiMarco when you get in touch with us.
This month, we are asking those of you who have been listening to FamilyLife Today for a while and you’ve benefitted from the program—you’ve found it helpful in your marriage, in your family, in your walk with God—but you’ve never gotten in touch with us or you’ve never made a donation to help underwrite the cost of producing and syndicating this program: We are hoping that maybe two families in each of the cities where FamilyLife Today is heard, who fit that description, might get in touch with us and help us reach a goal of 2,500 new friends of the ministry—those of you who make a donation to help support us—during the month of August.
If you can do that this month—you can make a first-time donation to support this ministry—we’d like to send you a thank-you gift. It’s the new DVD of the movie, October Baby—that was out in movie theaters not long ago. In fact, this DVD is not going to be out in stores for another few weeks; but we have a special pre-release copy for those of you who can help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, this month, as a new donor. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the button that says, “I CARE”. Fill out the donation form online. If you are a first-time donor to FamilyLife Today, we’ll send a copy of that DVD out to you; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Make a donation by phone. Just mention that this is the first time you’ve made a donation; and again, we’re happy to send out the October Baby DVD.
We want you to know we appreciate you. It’s always nice to hear from new friends, and we want to say, “Thank you,” to our old friends, as well—those of you who have faithfully supported the ministry of FamilyLife Today over the years. We appreciate your partnership with us and your support of this ministry.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to introduce you to a woman who decided to step away from the microphone when she became a mom. Lisa Williams joins us to talk about how God took her through a journey back home after her babies were born. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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