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Jen Oshman: Cultural Counterfeits

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
July 6, 2022 10:00 pm

Jen Oshman: Cultural Counterfeits

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 6, 2022 10:00 pm

Ever feel unsatisfied? Author Jen Oshman acknowledges our cultural counterfeits are hollow and leave us feeling unsettled--but where should we turn?

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We cannot be self-made people.

We were not meant to be. We have a God who is our Creator, and who also died to save us. And so, who we are has everything to do with whose we are. And it's so important that we lay that foundation, that we acknowledge that we have a God who made us. And how did He make us?

And how did He make us to thrive? We've got to be asking that question. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.

And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So, I'm at this social event, and this stranger, who had just found out that I'm a marriage author and a radio podcast marriage co-host, comes over because she heard this and says, So, I'm in my second marriage. I have one question for you.

What's the problem with marriage? And I've got like 15 seconds to answer this. I remember this. Well, she didn't ask you. She asked me. So, what would you say?

Well, years ago, I'd have said, Oh, I know the answer. It's my husband. I think a lot of women would say that. Oh, there's one problem in our marriage.

It's my husband. But that's not true. That's not what you said either, is it?

Well, it sort of gets at what I said. I mean, I was like scrambling, but I looked back at her and I said, selfishness. And the funny thing was, I could not have scripted this. She looks back at me and she goes, You are so right. My first husband was so selfish. And I looked at her and I said, I'm not talking about your first husband. I'm talking about you. And then I said, I'm talking about me. I think when I said, I'm selfish too, it gave me an audience. She's like, Oh, let's talk.

But I think that is at the core of all of our problems, whether it be marriage or not. And so today we get to talk a little bit about that with Jen Osmond, who has been with us before. But Jen, welcome back to Family Life Today. Thanks, you guys. It's so good to be here.

Thanks for having me back. I think the last time you were here, we were in a pandemic. We sure were. We were just a few months in. We still are, aren't we? Now we're getting toward a few years in, but here we are.

Yeah. And obviously you live where our son lives, Parker, Colorado. Tell us a little bit about your life. I know you're a pastor's wife and an author and got four kids. You've been a missionary for years.

Yes. So I'm coming up on our twenty third wedding anniversary. And we were married for about a year before we went overseas and served as missionaries in Japan and the Czech Republic and raised our children overseas. And we came back to the U.S. to care for my father about six years ago. And God graciously allowed us to plant a church one year later. So we have a five year old church celebrating our fifth birthday right about now. And in our five years back here in the U.S., God has just allowed me to do some writing and some speaking.

And that has been a surprise and a joy. And we also have four beautiful daughters. So life is full.

They range, so the youngest is fourteen and then sixteen, eighteen and twenty four and twenty four. That daughter is also married and has two children. So we are grandparents. Wow. And, you know, what I started with about selfishness, was it your first book, Enough About Me? That's right.

Two years ago. Yeah. And so you've written about that. And now we're going to talk today about another book that has just released, Cultural Counterfeits Confronting Five Empty Promises of Our Age and How We Were Made for So Much More. So we're obviously going to get into some of these empty promises, but where does selfishness or the Enough About Me, the center of I am the center of the universe, how does that lay a foundation for the world we live in? Yeah, we really are living in the age of self.

I mean, it's all about self-help. You do you. Imagine whatever you want to be, whoever you want to be. Reach for the stars. Dig deep.

Try hard. And you can be whoever you want to be. And some people just heard that and thought, what's wrong with that? Exactly.

Actually, I just thought that. Right. We are swimming in those waters.

We are deep in those waters. And so we don't even recognize what they are. But honestly, when you live by that lie, I'll just call it what it is right off the bat. When you live by that lie, then you have to be self-made. And we cannot be self-made people.

We were not meant to be. We have a God who is our Creator and who also died to save us. And so who we are has everything to do with whose we are. And it's so important that we lay that foundation, that we acknowledge that we have a God who made us. And how did He make us? And how did He make us to thrive?

We've got to be asking that question. Have you gone on that journey? Was there a time in your life where you found the end of yourself?

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, 12 times today, to be honest. This is something that I have to keep relearning daily, hourly, minute by minute. But the Lord was gracious to me in college.

As a college freshman, I write about it in Enough About Me, where I really found myself on the floor of my dorm room, just broken and crying out to the Lord. I can't do it anymore. I can no longer perform for the acceptance and approval of others. I'm not enough. And Jesus said, You're right. You're not.

But I am. And I'm here. And I stand ready to heal you and restore you and resurrect you. And by His grace, He did. And I'm so thankful for that.

But of course, it wasn't one and done. I walk in my own pride and selfishness and strength every day. And He has to remind me, I am here. You are not enough, but I am. I'm thinking about my own life. I'm guessing almost every listener has gotten to that point where they've tried to attain, you know, that you can be it all. You can make it. You can be the greatest. Man, I was striving for that my whole life. And it gets weary.

Even if it comes down to looks or your job, there's someone always a little bit better. Age happens. Time happens. And our lives are shifting all the time and changing. So it becomes this weary carousel. And you just can't be on it very long without feeling the effects of, I can never make it.

Yeah. And I think we're not only are experiencing a COVID pandemic, but we're experiencing a pandemic of women and men, but I mostly speak to women coming to the end of themselves and realizing, well, to be self-made, then I have to be an endless resource, an endless source of energy and approval and empowerment for myself. And we just weren't made to run on our own fuel. That's so true because I got up this morning and I put on my pants and I was like, these pants are way too tight. What happened?

And all of a sudden I'm just totally defeated. All I know is I thought you looked awesome. I just think you're the most incredibly beautiful woman I've ever met. You didn't think my pants were too tight? I never think that.

I thought, wow. But I have, I mean, I have experienced, all men have, and women as well. Even as a pastor for 30 years, I knew this.

When somebody attended our church for the first time, never been there and maybe was not going to any church for decades. And it sort of gets at what you wrote about, Jen, is I thought they have either experienced everything they hoped for in life. They're successful. They've got the house, the money, the cars, the life they wanted, and they're empty. That's maybe one part of their story. Or they've gone through something that's been very, very hard and broke them.

And they're at the bottom because they're just looking up like, I don't know where to turn. I'm going to try God. So it's either or. And again, there's probably multiple. But you just wrote about, and cultural counterfeits is all about, you're after this thing that you think this promise will deliver, and it doesn't.

And I don't know what to do. Is that where you're talking? Yeah, that's absolutely right.

You really just summarized the book really well. Okay, we're done. Yeah, we're done. That's it. There's idols out there.

We were made for more. Well, talk about that. What's an idol?

Sure. There's many definitions that we could go after. But an idol is something that we put our identity in.

It's something that we say, I've got to arrive at that destination. If I don't have that, then I don't have the significance that I long for. You know, Tim Keller does a great job teaching about this in so many of his writings and sermons.

So I really just appreciate his wisdom. But it's the thing you look at and say, I've got to have that. And if I can't have it, I cannot be satisfied. So we do this with good things all the time. We do this with our careers, with our skills, our gifts, our bodies, our abilities. We do it with relationships, with our spouses, with our children. We do it with comfort, status, safety. I could go on all day long, but it's we put our hope in that.

And we are defeated when we don't receive it. Okay, let's have confession time. Yeah.

Great. There's three of us in the studio. Oh, let's start with Jen. I was thinking let's start with Ian.

No. Definitely not starting with me. Confess an idol. Is there an idol you've chased and maybe even still rises up in your mind even today? I mean, I can happily go first.

I've got them on the tip of my tongue because I've been thinking about all this so much. But I would say for me, I combat the idol of ability all the time. I align myself with what I can produce, with my productivity. I feel worthless if I haven't taken care of my to-do list, if I haven't delivered the product that I told myself or I told somebody else that I could deliver. And then I feel like my life doesn't have value, that I have failed because I then believe I am what I do. And so I make what I do my idol.

All right. Ian, you're next. I would say now in this stage of my life, that's mine, Jen. I think now it's like that surrender of failure. And I remember one time speaking and I remember praying, like, God, I feel like I could make a fool of myself. And in my heart, I had this sense of God saying, would you be a fool for me?

Will you just do it? And I was like, okay, I don't care what people think. I'm just going to share the things that the Word says that you've put on my heart and because I really do care about what people think. And that can determine how I feel about myself. But in our early days, my marriage was my idol and my kids were my idol for a long time. And I can still battle with that. Yeah, me too.

Okay, Mr. Wilson. Yeah, if I've ever preached anything that probably became a theme of sermons over 30 years, it'd be interesting to ask our congregation, but I think it's idols never deliver. I remember saying that many times, idols, you think they will, they never, it isn't sometimes, they never really deliver. And so the two you're talking about has never really come through. I mean, there are times where, oh, that felt good, but you end up, it's because it's an idol.

They weren't made to. Wait, what's yours? I'm avoiding mine. I know. There's so many, but I think, you know, success. Yeah. And success is usually, in my mind, represented by money. I can remember it just came to my mind.

Which is so funny coming from the pastor who's really never made any money. I know. That's why you're always like, well, then if I did have. And, you know, being in the NFL as a chaplain for all those years, I was around a lot of money and I should be able to literally get in my car every day and go, well, they would be the first to tell you that.

I didn't do it. I remember, I don't know, I'm bringing this up. I remember one of my best friends on the team had just signed a new contract. He's like in his third contract. So in the NFL, if you get the first contract, that's like, wow. But if you get to the second and then a third, it just gets bigger and bigger because that means you've proven that you're a veteran. So they're all after that second. Well, he gets his third. And it's the highest contract anybody at that position has been paid.

And, you know, in the league, everybody knows it's public knowledge. And I remember walking up to him maybe at the end of that week and I'm like, dude, and he's a strong believer, one of the strongest guys in our locker room. And I said, dude, you've got to be so grateful. Look at what God did.

He blessed you with that contract. He goes, did you see what happened yesterday? And he wasn't mad, but he was like sort of snarky. I'm like, what do you mean? He goes, another guy in my position signed for another million more than I did. I'm like, are you kidding me? He goes, I shouldn't be saying this, but I'm not satisfied. I could have got more money if I had just held out another week. I'm like, we all do it. You know, and again, two weeks later, he's like, dude, I am so sorry. I should just be thankful to God.

But it is an idol that doesn't deliver. I can remember looking in my driveway. The garage door was up and we had one car and I remember thinking, literally had this thought, when we have two cars, I will be successful and happy. And we got a second car. Her brother gave us a car because we were like missionaries. And I remember thinking, maybe we need three.

That's the cultural counterfeit. Jen, how do we know when it's an idol? Because we have these desires. Is it wrong to have those desires or to work really hard towards something?

That's such a good question. It is not wrong to have these desires. But there is a subtle difference between stewarding that which God has given me and wanting to strive after it for my own glory and for myself. So I can look at my body and say, OK, it is able.

I am healthy. God has given me an opportunity to write and to speak and to delve into these truths with women. If I put my identity in that, then when I fail, when maybe I have a moral failing or my body fails and I can no longer write or speak, then who am I?

I've lost everything because that was my identity. But if for this season of life, God has given me these gifts, skills and passions to steward for his glory, then it's about him. Then I am a tool in his hand and my only job is to be faithful to him and to shine the light on him. And then no matter what happens to my body, and even if I fail, if I make a fool of myself, as you said, even if I fail hard and I lose the respect of my entire community and every reader I've ever had, I am still hidden in Christ.

And that's where we find safety and peace and security nowhere else. And I have found, if you found this too, if I'm not with him, if I'm not in the Word, if I'm not in fellowship with him and other believers, I can lose sight of that because it's like there's a river of culture that's sweeping me along. Do you think that's happening for all of us?

Oh, absolutely. I think especially with the, you know, omnipresence of social media, I find myself getting really nervous frequently. Thinking, oh, I haven't thought deeply about certain issues enough or I haven't done the work enough or I haven't produced enough. I need to do more. I need to try harder and strive harder to be better at who I am and what I do. And that's just a very different perspective than saying, Lord, I receive the calling that you've given me and I'm going to steward it for your glory. This is a message about you, not about me. And those are worlds apart.

Worlds apart. Well, you've already mentioned or you hinted at one of the empty promises of this age, and I'm thinking of obsession with our bodies, ability. You call it bodies, beauty, and ability. Yeah. Part of me hears that and goes, oh, that's a woman's thing.

You know, men don't struggle with that, but we do. Do you? Oh, yeah. It's crazy.

I think so. Tell us about that. I mean, you know, when we were dating and I was starting to lose my hair, I mean, now I'm completely for decades bald, but it was a- You're a hottie too. I'm a hottie. Whatever. She's trying to be nice to me because I was- Anyway, just that. I mean, every mirror I'd walk by, I'd be like, you know, checking how much of it.

So it's a guy thing as much as a woman thing. But how is that an empty promise of our age? We'll hear Jen's response in just a minute. But first, you know, talking about cultural counterfeits today, it reminds me that there are a lot of counterfeits in our culture when it comes to family. Well, Family Life is committed to bringing the clarity of God's word to a confused culture. And we really do need your help. Would you consider partnering with us financially? All this week, as our thanks for your partnership, we want to send you a copy of Carolyn Lacey's book called Extraordinary Hospitality for Ordinary People.

You can take action at or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to David and Anne's conversation with Jen Ochsman and the idol of vanity. It's the human condition, as you've just said. We want to be beautiful. We want people to look at us and to admire us. We want to be known. We want to be able to look at each other and say, do I look okay? Do I look pretty? And we want to be appreciated for how we appear.

Same with ability. You know, can I do the things? Can I earn my place in society? And so we want the approval. We want to be known and appreciated and applauded by others. And the unfortunate thing is that these bodies are finite. You know, we are wasting away, Paul says. Thankfully, inwardly, by the Spirit, we're being renewed day by day, he also says. But if we put our hope in these physical bodies, we will be disappointed because they will fail.

They will falter. And so we can't put our hope in that. And I think we see this idol play out in a really dark and sinister and pervasive way in just the culture of death that we have in our, and I'm sorry, I took it really deep really quick there. But we see it in abortion, in assisted suicide, and just sort of the throwaway culture that we live in, where we feel like people and bodies are useless if they cannot be supremely healthy in this moment. And we do away with them. That's where this idol ends up.

If you keep living for it, that's where it ends up. And yet, as you think about being a parent, you've got four daughters. So I'm guessing as a mom, you've had to deal with this obsession with beauty and body. Not that it isn't true for sons, but definitely for daughters.

How do you help them navigate through that? Yeah, I mean, this is a daily thing, and it is for myself, too. I'm as vain as the next man or woman. I seek after this idol myself, and so it is a daily conversation in our household. And I think what's important for Christians to remember is that beauty is not wrong. You know, God is the creator of beauty, and God Himself is beautiful.

He created gorgeous sunsets and awe-inspiring mountains and oceans on purpose so that we might look to Him. So to pursue beauty and even to be wearing makeup or doing your hair, whatever, beautiful clothes, those things are not wrong. But Peter and Paul in their writings remind us that what matters is the inner beauty, the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit that does not fade. So let's not trust in our outward adornment. We see women in scripture who do have outward adornment. It's not wrong to have that, but let's not trust in that.

Let's not put our hope in that. Our hope should be in the inner beauty that God gives by the renewal of His Spirit. I remember my friend with three daughters, she would tell her daughters that. It's about your inward beauty that matters. And I remember one of her daughters saying, But Mom, the world and my friends in high school, they don't care about my inner beauty. They care about my outward beauty, and so that matters to me, too. What do you do when your daughters are in that spot? It's hard, I know, right?

And I have to say myself, too. Like, I have to talk to them and say, Yeah, I get it. You know, I'm in my mid-forties now. I don't look the way I looked 10 years ago, and if I liked that better, then it's too late.

It's gone. So this is not something that I'm just teaching to them. It's something that I'm teaching to myself as well. I think a big part of the battle that we have right now is social media.

Again, I know I already said it, but I'm going to probably say it again during this conversation, because it is so pervasive. And so everybody is posting their best photos, right? They're posting their best moments, their most beautiful, filtered, edited images. And so we scroll those. They're in our hands.

We get out our phones when we're in the grocery store line, when we're pumping gas. You know, every time we have five seconds of boredom, we're looking at these pictures, and we're ingesting them, and social media really is discipling us. It is. It's shaping how we think about ourselves and how we think about each other.

And so we've got to break free from that and put it down and go, You know what? Reels aren't real. This is not real.

This is not true life. And again, take our eyes off of ourselves, off of the cultural landscape, and lift them up to Jesus and ask Him, Who are we in You? Who have You made me to be? I remember, I think I was maybe in my 40s, and I was sitting down to be with Jesus. And my schedule was that I would always work out first thing in the morning, always, before I would spend time with Him. And so if there was anything that I missed, it was my time with God. And I remember this one time sitting down, and I had this feeling of, Why do I always get my workout in?

But I will miss my time with God of just reading and reflecting a little bit and journaling. And I had this feeling like, Why aren't I developing my soul and strengthening that first? And I realized, it's because I care so much what other people are thinking about the outward. And so I went on this journey of even realizing, if people could see my inward soul, what would they think?

And I think that's interesting. Like, if we could actually see each other of what's going on in our hearts, we would care a lot more about our time with Jesus in some ways. But that was a really good reminder of me, like, What is more important?

Where is my time? And it's interesting to think, you know, as we are parents, we're leading, we had three sons, you have four daughters, we're leading them. And we're probably saying that to them, Hey, it's not about beauty.

It's not about ability. That's important, but not the most important. It's about who you are in Christ.

And yet, if we're not living that, I mean, I've done it. As a preacher, I mean, I would get in the car on Sunday after three or four sermons, and I would evaluate how I did based on what did the people say? I really did. And I'm like, Ann would say, Hey, how'd it go today? I'm like, I don't think very good.

Why? I felt great, but nobody said anything. And so you're like, it's like you're walking around the lobby like, Somebody please say you were good. It's such an idol because you think you're good or not based on what people think. And it's not true at all. So how do we break that? I mean, I think what Ann said is absolutely right. We have to prioritize time in the word because we are swimming in these cultural waters that are going to tell us what you just said is what matters. What other people have to say is what matters. But that is so fickle and frail and always changing. So we have to be rooted in what's true and we forget what's true so quickly.

I mean, five minutes later, right? So we do have to be in the word, remembering the character and the goodness and the kindness and mercy of our Lord and how he invited us to abide in him. That has to root us.

We will be lost without it. I think this could be a great homework question for tonight. If you're single, do this with a friend. If you're married, if you're blended, if you have kids, this would be a good conversation at some point this week. Talk about what your idols are, the things that you're tempted toward more. And you could name some of these five in the book that Jen has written, but maybe each person just kind of share.

What do you struggle with culturally that you're pulled toward more than anything else? And you want to really have courage. Ask a good friend.

I mean, we joked about it earlier. Like, I could tell you what yours are. You could tell me. Ask your spouse or, boy, boy, if you want to have guts and you've got teenage kids in your home, I bet you they've seen your idols. They're very honest.

Ask your kids what they think your idol is. You're always telling them what theirs are. What would happen if you said, hey, do you see anything that you think I'm trying to find my happiness from? And then don't get defensive. That's the key. You know, because they're probably going to be used by God to say, hey, I'm going to point something out and then get back on your knees and get your eyes on the real creator of who you are and find life in him.

You know, a conversation I recently had with my 16-year-old really points this out. So I pray with my girls on the way to school every morning. And it's just a five-minute drive. And so it's a very brief prayer. Also, it tends to sort of be wrote, you know, not on purpose, but I'm often praying the same thing every day. Sure. Me too. I did that every time we drove to school. Yeah.

And so maybe not verbatim, but the same things are coming up. And I ask the Lord every day to protect them from this idol, that they would not put their hope in their ability, that they would not identify with their grades, with whether or not they made the play or they made the team or they have the right friend group. I asked the Father to protect them from these sorts of things.

So good. So, you know, you never know if it's sinking in, right? But I went ahead and went back to seminary to finish my degree last semester. And when I was getting ready to take my very first midterm, you know, I haven't been in school for like 20 years. So I'm getting ready to take my first midterm. The brain is not what it used to be. The memory is not.

It's church history. So it's a lot of numbers. And I was so stressed. I'm like pacing in the kitchen, you know, just avoiding this test. And my 16-year-old says to me, Mom, you're not defined by your grades.

Good for her. I was like, you are so right. And praise the Lord you've heard those prayers. It's sinking in.

It's sinking in and you've just rehearsed the truth back to me. Thank you. You've been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jen Oshman on Family Life Today. Her book is called Cultural Counterfeits, confronting five empty promises of our age and how we were made for so much more.

You can get a copy at or you can call at 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Have you looked at a yearbook lately from when you were about 15?

Do you remember what life was like then? It's a time when you can really struggle with figuring out just who you are. And as a parent, it can be pretty tricky knowing how to help. But let me just say, getting a copy of Family Life's Passport to Identity is a good place to start. It's a chance to get some quality time away together one on one with your teenager. You'll listen together to biblical teaching on what it means to be a young man or a young woman. It's quality time that's just absolutely priceless.

And now you can get Passport to Identity, Young Men's Edition or Young Women's Edition for 25% off with the code PASSPORT. Just go to or call 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Now tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson will continue their conversation with Jen Oshman as she unpacks the fact that there's always more going on behind your actions. Tune in to see why you do the things you do. That's tomorrow. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-27 02:47:32 / 2023-03-27 03:00:19 / 13

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