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Steve Brown

June 30, 2006

If you don’t know Steve Brown, I want to introduce him to you.  He’s a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary and he has a radio ministry called “Key Life”.  John Piper is like the military commander of our movement, calling us to action and austerity by the power of rejoicing in God.  Steve Brown is more of a shepherd, calling us to rest and peace by his grace.  I’m sure that they would agree on almost every major point of theology, but their voices are so different.  I think it would be a healthy place to be if we were hearing both of their voices. 

Last night I read his article in the Key Life mini-magazine he sends out every couple of months or so.   I subscribed to it for free by calling his ministry and while I was on hold I heard a tape recording reminding me that God is not angry with me.  That’s the kind of guy Steve Brown is.  Here’s an excerpt from the latest issue:

Are you afraid? Me too. Do you sometimes struggle with sin? Me too. Do you wince because of the insecurity that comes from being the adult child of an alcoholic? Me too. Have you been shamed and will do almost anything to keep from being shamed again? Me too.

Now that’s settled, we can be free with one another. We really are as sick as our secrets.

I have some good news for you though: Jesus says that we are as secure as our secrets…the secrets of the Kingdom.

I used to think that my job was terrible. You wanted to sin and it was my job to keep you from sinning. You wanted to run away and it was my job to keep you there. You wanted to have control and it was my job to disabuse you of that desire. You wanted to have people like you and it was my job to make you offensive. You wanted to rebel and it was my job to make you submissive.

That job description was particularly hard because I know of nobody who wanted to sin, to run away, to have control, to rebel and to have people like me…more than me. It was sort of like putting the fox in charge of the chicken coop.

I used to worry about you a lot and, frankly, I used to worry about me a lot too.

I’m a lot older and some wiser now. My call as a preacher isn’t so much to convince as it is to announce. I’m here to proclaim the Kingdom….

I’ve said so many times to so many people, “You’ll get better” and they do. That isn’t my voice; it’s the voice of my Savior.

The King is in your life and he has healing in his wings (Malachi 4:2). God is even now moving among his people and healing. So, whatever it is, bring it into the light. It’s his. He will heal it. Even if it doesn’t happen today, it will happen someday when you’re Home and when you’re just like him.

On the authority of God’s Word, right this very minute, Jesus, the King, is healing, empowering, changing, forgiving, loving and making you whole.

What do you need to do? Nothing. Nothing at all. It’s the work of the Great Physician.

Behold now the Kingdom….

I don’t worry about you….(I know you worry about me sometimes too. Now you don’t have to worry about me…for the very same reason.)

 and from an earlier issue: 

“I believe that most of our sin is caused by our obsessiveness to be obedient and that the obsessiveness comes from a fear that God will break our legs when we get out of line.  Once that obsessiveness is removed Biblically and we focus instead on God’s love, people really do get better and the legalists are robbed of their power to manipulate and condemn.”

To read more of this article or to subscribe for free or to hear excerpts from his radio program (do this, you’ve got to hear his voice) go to 

That will take you to the article I quoted, and then you can poke around from there.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. June 30, 2006 10:29 am

    I *love* Steve Brown’s voice. I used to listen to his program and be surprised by his frankness on some topics but he always talks about God in such ‘real’ terms. It makes it even better to listen to that wonderful voice when the content is so good. I hardly ever listen to the radio any more (there’s too much background noise to want more) but I could ‘hear’ him when I read the quoted passages. Thanks!

  2. egana permalink
    July 1, 2006 7:32 pm

    “Once that obsessiveness is removed Biblically and we focus instead on God’s love, people really do get better and the legalists are robbed of their power to manipulate and condemn.”

    yeahhhhhh, MAN! Preach it Stevie! it is sooooooo true! The more I worry about doing things right to keep God happy with me, the less I please Him, the more I start to resent Him, and try to hide from Him.

    I think this is true in my parenting as well. The more draconian and hard to please I become, as I attempt to follow the directives in those foolish parenting books to be disciplined and consistent in what I require from my children, such as “first time obedience” and “respecting me,” the more unhappy, whiney, and disobedient they become.

    But when I am being patient, willing to listen to their point of view, and easy to please, they seem to do no wrong, and are a pleasure to be around.

    So who’s fault is it, theirs or mine? Mine clearly. Fear and anger do not produce the righteousness of God. Now don’t get me wrong, they do need to obey me, and to respect me, but I need to bring it about with wisdom, not with fear.

    So I must conclude that I am probably wastimg my time reading legalistic parenting books. I won’t listen to their rules about alcohol, so maybe I should stop listening to their rules about parenting…

  3. July 1, 2006 10:26 pm

    Egana, I’m glad you brought the parenting stuff up again, I meant to reply when you mentioned it on a previous post. I agree with your disdain for this “first time obedience” nonsense. Imagine if God treated us this way. I also think you shouldn’t read legalistic parenting books. For what it’s worth, one that I think is helpful and the least legalistic is “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tripp. Keyword=heart.

    A distinction that has been helpful to me is between obeying rules and respecting me. It’s about relationship, not rules. I may not always be consistent about rules. I may change the rules when the situation demands. Some would say this inconsistency is terrible. I say it’s to be avoided, but it’s not that big a deal. What matters is not that they obey the rules, but that they obey me, despite my inconsistency. I want them to obey me because they love me and when they don’t the goal of my discipline is to restore the relationship rather than to control their behavior.

    This also means I pick my battles. I’m not going to enforce every rule just because, dangit, it’s a rule. I exercise discipline when the relationship needs restoration. If it is done with this heart goal in mind, I don’t think it normally has to be that frequent. One good relationship restoring discipline experience is better than 1000 Pavlovian spankings.

  4. egana permalink
    July 2, 2006 9:31 pm

    ya know, since you brought it up….

    I read one of his books… hmmm, what was it? Tripp… I want to make sure I get the title right before I start talking about it. “War of Words” I think it was, and it drove me nuts! Maybe I should move this conversation into my MBTI thread on Egana’s tapdance, because I think it may have been a type issue. I just had a really hard time reading, believing, understanding, applying, and relating to what he was talking about. I would have to get the book out and re-read it to give any specific examples. But my overall experience was bad. yucky…

    We were using his book as the text for our Women’s Bible Study a few years ago, and I just about had to quit, because all I ended up doing was disagreeing with everyone else in the ding-dong group. That is not a fun place to be for an ENFP, lemme tell ya.

    So help me be willing to listen to what Tripp has to say about parenting, because I have deilberately avoided reading any of his other books. And yet here you are saying that it was one that you thought was “helpful and the least legalistic.” Now everyone knows how much I respect you and your recommendations, and I want to make it clear here that I am not dissin’ you. Me & Mark5, we’re the toadies, right?

    Right! (we know where the big money is….) *wink*

    So help me want to read this book so I can get the benefit you found in it too, ok?

  5. egana permalink
    July 2, 2006 9:57 pm

    “I want them to obey me because they love me and when they don’t the goal of my discipline is to restore the relationship rather than to control their behavior.”

    This sounds great! It sure reminds me of how God wants us to obey him. This morning I read an article about some Indian Christians were accused of trying to bribe Hindus to convert to Christianity with the offer of some cash and a motorcycle. But why would anyone suffer the kind of persecution that lurks round the corners in India for material posessions?

    Then this morning the kids in my Sunday School class were ragging on the disciples because they couldn’t stay awake while Jesus was praying, and we got into a discussion about how the Holy Spirit gives a believer the power to do what Jesus asks. That is how Christians can suffer and die for Him, now that they are indwelled by the Spirit, and why the poor disciples who walked and talked with Jesus couldn’t even stay awake while he prayed. They didn’t have the power of the Spirit yet.

    (By the way, nothing improves and challenges my understanding of the deeper truths of our God than trying to explain them to kindergarteners and first graders. Just another pitch for the blessings of teaching Sunday School…)

    So stick with me here, this actually does connect with your topic, because God wants us to obey him out of love, just like you want your kids to obey you out of love (hmmm… let’s turn that around, because your parenting is modeled after God’s, not vice-versa *grin*). But we can’t obey God in our own strength. One of the kids thought that maybe the disciples didn’t love Jesus enough to do what he said, but that the martyred Christians in China loved Him more. You would be amazed at the spiritual discussions we have…

    Anyway, I explained that the disciples could not do what Jesus asked them to do, because they did not have the Spirit’s power yet. They desired to obey. They loved Jesus. But they were still weak. Christian martyrs, on the other hand, have the power to suffer and die for Him, not because they love him more, or sin less, but because they have the power of the Spirit to make them able to do what Jesus asks them to do. Serious stuff going on in Sunday School, man…

    So back to the topic at hand: How can we apply this to our children? How can we strengthen their dependence on God’s power to obey us (and through obeying us, obeying Jesus?) How many times have they promised to try harder to remember what I have asked them to do, or to be kind and generous with each other? Am I asking these little ones to “watch and pray,” when in truth they are not yet able to obey me in the power of the Spirit?

    But what would this family look like if we waited for the age of reason before we tried to teach them respect and obedience toward us, and kindness and generosity between them? It would be “Lord of the Flies day school” over here. yikes…

  6. July 2, 2006 10:31 pm


    In response to your first post, I would first say that the author of Shepherding A Child’s Heart is not Paul Tripp, the author of War of Words, but Tedd Tripp, his little brother. Since siblings are not all the same type, you might like Shepherding a Child’s Heart. (I also loved War of Words, but that’s a subject for another time)

    The book is great because it focuses on heart change by the power of grace and the Word and not on behavior modification. And it’s great because it pretty much says it’s always your fault. (As you said in your post here 7/1/06 7:32pm)

    In response to your second post, wow, I can’t but respond incompletely. But one thing you reminded me of: Yes it would be Lord of the Flies if we just let them go free until they were ready. I believe that people preach the law too much to Christians, and not enough to nonChristians. In other words, the law is designed for children to be a schoolmaster to lead them to Christ. We need to hit them with the law, but then when they despair of keeping it we need to hit them with the doctrine of total inability and then give the gospel. And then do it all over again tomorrow until they get it.

  7. July 5, 2006 1:34 pm

    I’m ordering a copy for myself and Egana at $10.74 each. Anyone else interested?

  8. egana permalink
    July 5, 2006 4:32 pm

    MN: I think I spoke too soon yesterday. I am not super-sure I want to buy one yet. Maybe I’ll jsut take a look at someone else’s before I buy myself a copy.

    I have some other books I am wanting to get my hands on (not about parenting… *wink*) so if you need “filler” to get the free shipping, let me know, and I’ll email you the titles. No thanks for the Tripp one just yet, though.

    Isaiah543: You make it sound pretty good. But lots of those legalistic parenting books say its “my fault” too, for not following their rules when I discipline my children or in the way I manage our home. I am willing to humble myself, and accept responsibility for my sins, but often they claim my “sin” is in not doing it their way, instead of my sin being me arrogant selfishness and fear against God.

    Or even worse, my “sin” is in not doing it their way, which they claim is God’s way anyway. I am a little leary of another list of rules, or another “spank early, spank often” parenting book.

    We do want to shepherd their hearts into the presence of the Lord, by our attempts at modeling Christ and the church in our marriage, by our individual ambassadorship of Christ (yikes. we are His representatives), our instruction, our bits of wisdom, our own love and enjoyment of Him, our ordering and management of our family, oh so many ways I want to bring these children to Him for His blessing and ask Him to open the eyes of their hearts so that they can see His beauty.

    And it appears as though each episode of disobedience can be an opportunity for the Gospel, if I am mentally prepared for it? So instead of getting frustrated or disappointed or whatever, I can show them their fault, and explain their inability to obey the way we both want, and then explain the Gospel?

    hmmmm… gotta think about that one…

  9. July 6, 2006 11:17 am

    Sure, send me the titles and I’ll add them to my order.

  10. August 8, 2006 10:44 pm


    When Tripp says it’s almost always our (the parent’s) fault, he doesn’t mean because we’re not following his parenting rules. He means that we have our own heart idols and, sadly, the reason we get mad at our kids is because they are blocking our path to our idols (quietness, order, control, self-image, etc.) We might pretend to be angry because they’re dishonoring the Lord by their disobedience but who are we kidding? So, we first get our own hearts right and then we go after their hearts. And absolutely yes, every episode of disobedience an opportunity for the gospel.

  11. Egana permalink
    August 9, 2006 5:30 pm

    Gorf brought up an interesting point yesterday (not online, an actual physical auditory conversation with gestures and facial expression and tonality and everything…)

    We were talking about stealing, and how my first response is not to punish when a child comes to confess, becasue I want them to always feel free to come and confess, and not to be afraid.

    But in a practical way, my approachable-ness might be encouraging them to continue the behavior because there is no real dis-incentive…. So, somehow I am supposed to reflect God’s approachable mercy and his fearful righteousness at the same time?

  12. August 9, 2006 6:58 pm

    I think there are no hard and fast guidelines for such things. Sometimes a loving father will extend pardon and still exercise loving discipline in such a situation. Sometimes a loving father will extend pardon without discipline to make another point. No one can tell you which way to go on any given day. Walk by the Spirit and aim for the heart.

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