How do you respond when your 12 yr old son is caught in a pornography addiction? The answer may surprise you! Join me today as my guest, Author and speaker Steve Arterburn joins me today to tackle questions from listeners and offer a giveaway from his newest collaboration: Kirby McCook and the Jesus Chronicles!
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Philippians 3:8-11
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- Kirby McCook and the Jesus Chronicles: A 12-Year-Old’s Take on the Totally Unboring, Slightly Weird Stuff in the Bible, Including Fish Guts, Wrestling Moves, and Stinky Feet
- ENTER THE GIVEAWAY: Hop over to my Instagram @HeidiStJohn
- New Life Website
- New Life Radio
- Steve’s Books on Amazon
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Steve Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries and host of the # 1 nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show “New Life Live!” heard and by 2 million people each weekday on 200 radio stations nationwide and on Sirius/XM radio. Steve is the Teaching Pastor at Northview Church in Carmel, Indiana. Steve is also the founder of Women of Faith conferences attended by over 5,000,000 people.
As a nationally and internationally known public speaker, Steve has been featured in national media venues such as Oprah, Inside Edition, Good Morning America, CNN Live, The New York Times, USA Today, US News & World Report, ABC World News Tonight, along with GQ magazine and Rolling Stone magazine. Steve has spoken at major events for National Center for Fathering, American Association of Christian Counselors, Promise KeepersCanada, Life Well Conferences in Australia and The Salvation Army, to name a few, and is an inductee to the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame.
Steve is a best-selling author of books such as Every Man’s Battle, Healing Is A Choice, Toxic Faith, Walking Into Walls, and his latest books, the Arterburn Wellness Series featuring titles including Understanding and Loving a Person with Depression, Understanding and Loving a Person with ADD, Understanding and Loving a Person with Sexual Addiction, Understanding and Loving a Person with Drug or Alcohol Addiction, and more. With over 11 million books in print, he has been writing about God’s transformational truth since 1984. He has been nominated for numerous writing awards and won three Gold Medallions for writing excellence. Along with Dr. Dave Stoop, he edited and produced the award winning Life Recovery Bible which is on exhibit at The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C.
His speaking topics address issues common to leaders and adult men and women, including Take Your Life Back, Every Man’s Battle, Lose it For Life, The 7-Minute Marriage Solution, Every Heart Restored, Healing is a Choice and Pro-Life. Steve’s ministry endeavors focus on identifying and compassionately responding to the needs of those seeking healing and restoration through God’s truth.
Steve has degrees from Baylor University and The University of North Texas as well as two honorary doctorate degrees including one from The California Graduate School of Theology. Steve resides with his family in Carmel, Indiana.
[Heidi] Hey, everybody. This is Heidi St. John. Welcome to the podcast. Today is Wednesday, November 27th. This is episode number 850 and today we’re going to be taking your questions with a special guest on the show with me today. Steve Arterburn is here today. He is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries and the host of the number one nationally syndicated Christian counseling talk show New Life Live!, Which is heard by two million people each weekday including myself on 200 radio stations nationwide and also on Sirius XM radio. Steve is also the teaching pastor at North View Church in Carmel, Indiana and the founder of the Women of Faith conference. We’re going to have a great conversation today.
Stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
All right, you guys, do you know what’s coming up on my calendar? First of all, thanks to everybody who’s been writing in and asking about the upcoming events. I will be in California in just a couple of days. If you want information on where I will be, please see the show notes today and you will find the directions for the church and also the start and stop times for that event. That’s coming up the first Saturday in December and we’re excited about that. Also, have a brand new study coming up at MomStrong International, and if you have not joined the community of women who are studying God’s word with me, I want to encourage you to do it. Now’s a great time to jump in. We have a brand new format coming up starting in January. And we’re going to finish the year strong with a brand new study that we’ll release on the first Monday in December. So we’ve got 14,000 of you studying with us over there, so hop on over there so hop on over to MomStrongInternational.com.
Without further ado, I want to introduce Steve to you today. You guys remember that last week I had my friend Marcus Brotherton on the show and we were talking about his new book, Kirby McCook and the Jesus Chronicles. And Marcus had mentioned to me that Steve was a co-author of this book, which is really exciting for me just to have Steve’s voice in it. So we’ve invited him to come on the show and he’s also going to stick around and answer a couple of your questions. So Steve, welcome to the podcast.
[Steve] Thank you Heidi. Great to be here and I really appreciate all you do because man, if there was any segment of the world that needed strength in what they do, it’s moms. Oh my goodness.
[Heidi] Yeah, it’s really true. And really the family, oh my goodness. We’ve seen the family under such attack in recent years. And I really appreciate your heart to bring a biblical perspective to the issues that we’re facing in real time. So I got kind of a burning question for you. How in the world, and this is kind of what I said to Marcus too, how did you guys decide to go from what… Because you’ve done every man’s battle. You’re known for really hitting hard topics and coming at it from a solid biblical perspective. And then Marcus is known for writing about the grace generation and war heroes and then the two of you jumped into Kirby McCook. And I was like, I’d said to Marcus, I said, “Wow, that’s a little bit of a departure”, but it was great for me to hear his heart to say, “We got to figure out a way to engage kids with the Bible.” So how did you get involved in this project?
[Steve] Well, first of all, it is really something different for Marcus. It’s not so different from me. I have, I’ve written several series for kids and I actually, for Tyndale, I’m the editor of their NLT Kids Bible, and then just done a lot of different projects for kids. My first degree was in elementary ed and I was so grateful that Marcus signed on for this because no one could have done this better than him. But the idea came… My son is, he’s 13. When he was 10, he inherited his mother’s IQ. And he goes to a school where everybody is, their IQ is about 140 or more.
[Steve] And they’re all really bright. Well, when I took Solomon to Greece, the people there said, “I think your son knows more about Greece than we do, at age 10.” And it was because of these Rick Riordan Greek mythology books that are so fun and funny, and he’s read them all. And so he says to me one day, “Dad, how come there aren’t any books about Bible characters, real people and the real God versus all these fake Greek gods?” And I said, “Great question.” And from my past when I was in the third grade, Mrs. Mendel back then, you could actually read the Bible in school. And she, after lunch we’d put our heads in our desk and she’d read these old Testament Bible stories. So I knew how much I had learned from those stories. So all of that goes together to me talking to Greg Johnson who knew Marcus, we get together and we come up with this great guy, Kirby McCook that’s 12 years old, who knows a lot about the Bible. He’s funny, his friends are funny. We get an illustrator that does these off the wall illustrations and we’ve come up with something.
Of course it would never be this without Marcus. We came up with this book that what we hear from people is “My non-reading son finished it in one setting.” They’re 52 stories. They’re funny, chapters like Jesus Spits, things like that: but here’s kind of the headline: And that is that when a child, eight to 12 years old reads this, they come to understand in a very real way that Jesus didn’t show up in a barn on Christmas about 2000 years ago. That’s the overriding message that Jesus, everything was made through him for him and by him. And so that’s a big thing. But the other thing is the great theologian Francis Schaffer said this, he says, “The gospel needs to be re-communicated into each new generation.” And that’s what this is. If kids just look at the Bible as an ancient document for old people, it has no impact. But they are being impacted by the truths that they’re uncovering in these stories that are really funny.
I mean, I have these mothers say, “And my daughter’s just sitting there, she’s laughing out loud and the subtitle, a 12 year olds take on the totally unborn, slightly weird stuff in the Bible, including fish, guts, wrestling moves, and stinky feet.” Here’s a way that a parent or a grandparent not only can get kids to access God’s truth, but you look really cool in the process.
[Heidi] Well that’s something we talked about is just bringing your A game. Like so many people, particularly this is happening in the church where we sort of give the leftovers to the kids and Marcus was saying, “No, we don’t give the leftovers. We’re bringing our A game,” which is really what you guys are doing.
[Steve] From the illustrations, the different things that are attached to it. It really is an amazing project and I’m so grateful that we’re able to speak into these kids’ lives. I’ll tell you what we’ve done at New Life and of course New Life is my organization and it’s a not for profit, but we’ve told people the book is $17.95 I think retail is hardcover, $17.99, so I’ve told people “You call 1-800-NEW-LIFE, give me the name of the child that you want this for. Donate $20 to New Life. And I will personally autograph it to them with something mature like… Dear Bobby, hope you love our book. If you don’t, please don’t tell anybody.” And I’ve been autographing and we’ve been mailing directly for parents and grandparents to these kids. And so if anybody’s interested in that, it really is… 20 bucks covers the shipping in the book and all that.
[Heidi] Well tell us, tell me again, tell the listeners again how they can do that because I know they’re going to want to get in on it.
[Steve] Just call 1-800-NEW-LIFE. Tell them you want to make a $20 donation and you give them the name of the child and then the address, your address if you want to give it to them or if you want us to send it directly, we’ll do that and it’s done. It’s that simple.
[Heidi] That is fantastic. So I know people are going to take you up on that. Also we are giving away a copy of the book today here at the podcast. So if you guys are interested in getting in on the giveaway, we’ve only got one copy. So he’s going to go fast. And if you want to get an autographed copy, I should have talked to you before see, because I’d given away an autographed copy. I love this though, to donate to New Life. That’s a fantastic way to support your ministry and also get this book into the hands of kids.
And it seems to me you and I share a passion for seeing parents really step up to the plate and to begin the process of really truly discipling our children and not leaving it up to somebody else. We shouldn’t be leaving it up to the pastors, the youth pastor. Parents are the primary educators and the primary disciplers of their children. And this is a really great tool in the hands of parents, right? So you can get your kids in and have them sit down with you and really engage with them. I love that it’s funny. It’s not boring and the Bible is not boring. The Bible is anything but boring. And I think somehow we’ve made it boring. I’m not sure how we did that.
[Steve] Well I do think that it is full of life. And I think what we’ve done here is, the Kirby McCook and his friends that he teaches, that’s just kind of the structure, that’s the environment we created, the fictional environment in which the truth is presented in a really unique and creative way. And I think that where some people fall apart in their parenting is they really mean well and they want to do things. And so like maybe they’ll say, “okay, we’re going to do a devotional every day before you go to school” and it’s so boring. Or it’s just not where your kids are living. And so this I really believe will be something that you’ll say, “Okay, this is easy.” And at the end of each chapter, if you want to do some more with each one of the stories, there’s some little notes here, there’s a verse that, it’s great for memorizing. And then there’s some other verses you can go to to really get a little bit deeper into it. But every one of these stories is very easy for you to take it and just talk to your child. But maybe you have a child doesn’t really like talking about stuff. They just want to read things. That’s okay. Let that be, don’t run… Don’t cram something down their throat when maybe they would just enjoy a nice book that they read on their own. But I think if you look at Amazon, you see the reviews that are there, you’ll realize that this is really something special and I am absolutely thrilled to be part of it.
[Heidi] Well, I hope you guys keep going. I asked Marcus the other day if you were thinking you might make it into a series and he’s like, well I guess we’ll see how the first book does. So I hope everybody will go out and buy it. Check it out. Such a great opportunity for parents to get the truth of God’s word into the hands of kids with a character that’s going to be relatable and funny to them. I love that. I want to switch gears just a little bit because this episode airs on Wednesday and on Wednesdays I like to answer questions from listeners and I thought, “Man, I’m going to take advantage of the fact that I’ve got Steve Arteburg on the show with me.” This is fantastic. And just get your thoughts on a couple of things that have been rattling around in my heart and my head and certainly lots of questions coming in from listeners.
And one of them is the story that broke about two weeks ago now about comedian John Crist and his sexual addiction, and the fact that there were several people that were kind of pulled into this thing. And then the question comes, what can we learn from this? I guess that might be a great way to frame this. What can we learn from this? How can we as the church both learn to respond to it in a way that’s godly? But also what can we take away so that we can protect our own families and our own marriages. What were your thoughts on the story as it developed and broke?
[Steve] Well, there’s so many stories like this. The sad thing is not that they happen. Usually the sad thing is the way that people react or respond to them. Typically in a big church situation, my friend Dave Stoop and I have been on many committees and brought in as consultants to churches—and what you see happening is a lot of covering up and trying to kind of minimize the impact. Then often you’ll see two or three, the hero elders or hero deacons that are going to save the church. You know, they’re going to fix all this and make it okay. And really, what they’re doing is they’re maintaining their access to a powerful figure and they’re really not doing it for the church. They’re doing it for themselves. They think they’re doing it for the church and for God and greater purposes, but not really. And so you have to let them run their course if they’re in charge and then finally you get down to, we have to deal with the reality here.
And the big thing is when people say things or when you see things that don’t add up, you need to act on that and not minimize or overlook it. Because the earlier you deal with something the better. I guess in John’s case, probably this, the problem was known to be a problem for maybe four years, but too bad. All he had to do at any point was call 1-800-NEW-LIFE and go to the Every Man’s Battle Intensive that we do. There are people that have been struggling for years, ever since they were kids and they, and they spend this intensive weekend with us and these Christian counselors and they develop brothers in the battle. They got support, they’ve got a plan and the big catastrophe is avoided. I mean some of my biggest donors are people that give to New Life because they’re not paying child support because we help them keep the family together and we dealt with it before it got out of hand.
So I would just say this, it is such a prevalent problem that the latest Barna poll said probably 60 percent of the men that show up in church on a Sunday are struggling with this. Now there is no other problem that 60 percent of men are struggling with. And my wife does a group, it’s a sexual integrity group for women and almost every one of the women there, and every woman there under 30 struggles with pornography and that just wasn’t true 20 years ago, even 10 years ago. So it’s a very big problem. Very common. The question is if you have the problem that so many other people have, what are you going to do? You’re going to try harder?— doesn’t work. Going to try to keep it a secret?— doesn’t work. Question is: are you willing to get some help?
And it doesn’t have to be a public help. You can get anonymous help. People come to us. Pastors come to us all the time. Nobody ever knows they ever came, what they did there. It’s all confidential. What’s not confidential is when you don’t take care of it and then you’re served divorce papers, or you’re let go from your position, or like in the case of John Crist, everybody comes to discover the problem. And there’s so much hope, so much help, but you have to be willing to humble yourself, ask for the help, and then go get the help.
[Heidi] That’s so important. I got a letter from a mom named Kelly a couple of weeks ago and she said, “Heidi, we recently discovered our 12 year old son is viewing pornography online. He had already had his electronic privileges taken away for attitude and lying, but when we uncovered him hiding an iPad in his room, we then discovered the pornography he was viewing. We thought we had safety parameters in place for this, but apparently we were wrong or he found a way around them. Other than putting better parameters in place, how should we handle this moving forward? How would you handle discipline from this when he was already on restriction?” I get this question in various forms all the time. I think it hearkens back to what you were just saying, which is this is an epidemic. This is pandemic in the United States, which I think largely due to access on the internet. And I get letters like this all the time from parents. So what kind of hope can you offer Kelly and the other parents who are listening and finding themselves in similar situations?
[Steve] Well, most likely if they’re having to ask this question, they’re not going to like the answer that I have. And if they don’t like the answer that I have, I don’t think there is a lot of hope and here’s what I’m talking about. A child that’s 12 that gets caught viewing pornography, inappropriate images, whatever, and then their phone is taken away and all the screens are taken away. It is so devastating to them and so painful that most of them will do whatever it takes to prove to their parents, I’m not involved with this anymore. I want the freedom of my phone and screens. That’s the response that you want, doesn’t matter how they fell into it, whatever. It’s pretty common. So when you find it and you confront them with it, you want them to feel ashamed, make promises. You want to restrict more, absolutely.
You want to try to inflict consequences without making them feel like they’re the worst, most shameful person in the world. That’s really important. Okay, so their son, they did that and he didn’t respond to that. Well, why wouldn’t your first question be, how do I find a great Christian counselor for my son? I mean, why wouldn’t that, why don’t people just think, “Hey, this, this is beyond us. This is a character defect here and if we don’t jump in here at 12, we’re going to be dealing with this at 14 and 24.” I really do think that there is an ability to become addicted to pornography. I really believe that. Now why? Because whether you inject a chemical, if you experience a mood altering experience with whatever you have hormonal stuff and chemicals that are secreted in the brain. It’s all chemical anyway. And if you could cut off all pornography from this addicted kid, he would probably find something else to produce whatever it is that produces that relief or that high. So let’s go get him some help. Let’s find out where the disconnection occurred. Why doesn’t he respond to normal consequences? Why is he so persistent? I mean, if this boy lived in my town, I could tell you exactly who he needed to go see and I would be very confident that that person would help him and the parents turn this around. Counseling is not for weak people. It’s not for sick people. It’s for people that have trouble with something and here’s this great resource, this great asset of the church, and it ought to be your first… first thing is: where do we find this person that knows how to help us with this because there are no quick fixes, no instant solution.
There is no book you’re going to read that’s going to help you fix this in this child. Your child needs some deeper help. Let me give you a verse. It’s Jeremiah 6:14 says this, Jeremiah said this few thousand years ago, “They treat the mortal wounds of my people with superficial treatments,” and now you don’t want to be doing that. You don’t want to be putting a bandaid on something or thinking, Oh, this is a stage or a phase. You want to jump in there early, early on and get the help that can turn this around. And we don’t blame the parents, we don’t shame the parents. It’s so common, but it’s your responsibility to respond to this at the appropriate level and more discipline, more punishment, more restriction is not going to fix the character problem that needs to be developed from the inside out.
[Heidi] Well, and that brings me to a question about biblical counseling versus a secular counseling. And we do a lot of this here at the show also is moving people toward biblical counseling. Can you explain the difference? So let’s say a parent listening to this right now and he or she is saying, “You know what, Steve’s right, I’m going to have, we got to get help.” A, where do they find help and how do they find it? And then B, does it matter? Should they be looking for a biblical counselor or will just any counselor off the internet work?
[Steve] Well, first of all, if it was my 12 year old, biblical counseling would be of no value to me if it was delivered by an 80 year old woman to my 12 year old son, right? So what I want is I want somebody that can help my son grow in character. So what I want is I want a Christian counselor who is licensed, trained, I mean top of their game, who will uphold the values that we uphold, someone that’s not going to think, “Oh, it’s not that bad or whatever.” So I need somebody that’s special, that’s a Christian, that’s not just really good at talking to people, but has a license and has been trained. And when you get a license from a Christian college in counseling, you get good solid Bible background and foundation. So I want that person, but I want that person that specializes in 12 year olds. That’s a big headline for me, got to be a Christian that’s going to uphold the values, got to be licensed and needs to be, this is their specialty.
Now, let’s say in my area, I don’t have any Christians. Well, is there somebody that specializes in young people? But even though they’re not a Christian, they’re not going to care, they have the same values. Maybe they’re Jewish and they have the same values. Well, I’d rather, again, go to that person than an 80 year old biblical counseling woman or man. So we got to be sensible here and I don’t start with biblical. I start with, I want to try to get him to see a Christian who is really good at connecting with 12 year olds and I want them to have a license. I want them to be at the top of their game.
[Heidi] And where do we find these people? I mean, is there like a, I keep thinking, I’m hearing about this and is there a registry? Do they just, are they just doing a search for their areas or a place where, I mean, I guess in a perfect world to be great if a Steve Arterburn started a brand new project and you could come up with a database.
[Steve] No, it started 31 years ago.
[Heidi] Well there you go.
[Steve] And you call 1-800-NEW-LIFE and you tell them what you need and they’re either going to tell you in our network of 1300 Christian counselors, we have somebody in your area that specializes in that or we don’t. And if we don’t, we talk about what are the options because there are a lot of options today that didn’t exist. If you’re in Nome, Alaska, you know you can do some things online, face to face with folks rather than do nothing.
[Heidi] Well that’s fantastic. So I love that. In fact, I’m going to link back to this phone number. For those of you who are driving and you know whatever in the show notes today, 1-800-NEW-LIFE. All of this, this is also where you call if you want to get the Kirby McCook book autographed and sent to you for a donation of 20 dollars, and is there, where else can we find you online? Because you’re a busy guy. I was telling your assistant before I started recording, I was reading your bio and I said, “I can’t actually read this whole thing. It’s going to take up the whole show,” because I said, “When does Steve take a nap?” She said, “Yeah, he doesn’t.”
[Steve] I sleep on airplanes, but I actually a lot of stuff I like to do, which is raise a family and before I did this I ran my daughter’s school bag to school that she forgot. But anyway, just call 1-800-NEW-LIFE and we’ll help you with all of that and any of that. And I really want to help folks. I love hearing years later, you know it all began with a phone call and here’s what happened.
[Heidi] I love that. I love that. Well for more information on Steve Arterburn and his fantastic ministry to families, please check it out in the show notes today at heidistjohn.com/podcast. I will link back to all things Steve Arterburn. Thank you so much, Steve, for coming on the show and encouraging listeners today, and I wish you the best with your brand new book, Kirby McCook.
[Steve] Thank you so much and God bless you and thanks for all the great stuff you do and I hope that you feel encouraged because you’re really making a difference with a lot of folks that need you, especially those moms.
[Heidi] Thank you so much. I appreciate that and I’ve been encouraged by everything that you’re doing. In fact, I was sitting here writing notes furiously while you were talking, so it’s wonderful. I appreciate what you’re doing. For more information on Steve Arterburn, again, please visit me online, heidistjohn.com/podcast. We’ll link back to the giveaway for Kirby McCook and the Jesus Chronicles and also information on New Life Ministries. Thanks for listening everybody, and I’ll see you back here on Friday.
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