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About Hal Bettis

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So far Hal Bettis has created 451 blog entries.

Spurgeon: Tell Your Children

“Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.” — Joel 1:3

In this simple way, by God’s grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land-the beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the gospel, and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants.

This is our first duty, we are to begin at the family hearth: he is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. The heathen are to be sought by all means, and the highways and hedges are to be searched, but home has a prior claim, and woe unto those who reverse the order of the Lord’s arrangements.

To teach our children is a personal duty; we cannot delegate it to Sunday school teachers, or other friendly aids; these can assist us, but cannot deliver us from the sacred obligation; proxies and sponsors are wicked devices in this case: mothers and fathers must, like Abraham, command their households in the fear of God, and talk with their offspring concerning the wondrous works of the Most High.

Parental teaching is a natural duty-who so fit to look to the child’s well-being as those who are the authors of his actual being? To neglect the instruction of our offspring is worse than brutish. Family religion is necessary for the nation, for the family itself, and for the church of God.

By a thousand plots Popery is covertly advancing in our land, and one of the most effectual means for resisting its inroads is left almost neglected, namely, the instruction of children in the faith. Would that parents would awaken to a sense of the importance of this matter.

It is a pleasant duty to talk of Jesus to our sons and daughters, and the more so because it has often proved to be an accepted work, for God has saved the children through the parents’ prayers and admonitions.

May every house into which this volume shall come honour the Lord and receive his smile.

Morning and Evening – July 11

Parent Devotional|

She’s Not Perfect But She’s Perfect For Me

Listen in as I share my father-in-law’s profound little saying that is deeply biblical and may transform your marriage.

She’s Not Perfect But She’s Perfect for Me

My father-in-law has a profound little saying that sums up a biblical attitude spouses should have toward one another. His saying?

She’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me.

Let’s examine the two parts.

She’s not perfect. By making this statement, a spouse reminds himself that he married another sinner. Too many partners are biting and devouring each other because they demand perfection.

Many a wife has said, “I would have the perfect marriage if I had a more spiritual husband.” And many husbands are saying, “Why can’t my wife be more like this other woman?” We spiritualize the discontentment by telling ourselves we are just trying to help them become more godly.

In these unspoken and spoken thoughts there is an unwillingness to accept the other person. We cannot see the log in our own eyes, but we can see clearly the speck in our spouse’s eye. We say to ourselves, “God has put me into his life to improve him.” So we judge and nag and grumble and complain.

But in this process we miss seeing our own faults. And we miss out on God’s desire to work out in us certain qualities of forbearance, perseverance, humility, and acceptance. Forbearance is the quality of bearing with another’s sin when there will be no change. It is a fruit of the gospel often translated as endurance or longsuffering. God commands us to forbear with one another (Ephesians 4:2) especially our closest other.

In this process we also miss out on the quality of accepting one another. We are to accept one another as Christ as accepted us in mercy, overlooking our sin. As we actively receive our spouse, faults and all, it reminds us of how Christ is regularly, mercifully, receiving us even now.

You are not perfect. Neither is she.

 Now let’s look at the second part of that statement.

She’s not perfect but She’s perfect for me. The second phrase is even more biblically foundational. A husband must affirm by faith that his wife is perfect for him. And a wife must believe that, even with all his faults, her husband is perfect for her.

In the creation account before sin, God pronounces everything good—except one thing. It is not good for man to be alone. So God fashions a creature like him but unlike him—a woman. His purpose? To make a helper suitable to him. A helper that completes him. If Adam, before sin, needs a helper, then how much more do I need one? But sin has so blinded us that we don’t see our need for help.

Like Adam, a man must be able to look at his wife and say, “In the grand mystery of God, he has provided this person to help me in ways I cannot even see. So Lord, I receive this good gift by faith even though I sometimes don’t think I need it.” A wife must be able to look at her husband and say, “In the grand mystery of God, he has provided this person to help me in ways I cannot even see. Lord, I receive him as a gift by faith.”

The doctrine of providence helps me even in the suffering that inevitably comes in marriage. If my wife is quarrelsome or difficult, then I can embrace this suffering as from God. If my husband is overbearing or passive, then I embrace this circumstance as part of God’s plan to shape me. In divine sovereignty, God has provided this person to complete my sanctification in ways I cannot even imagine.

He’s not perfect, but he’s perfect for me. She’s not perfect, but she’s perfect for me. 

Do you believe it?

 

 

Video|

Vacations, Family Trips, and Family Discipleship

A year ago, I had just returned home from a week of enjoying my daughter’s college graduation and some much-needed R & R. Truly, life is short. Was it only yesterday that she was a three-year-old waltzing around, carrying lots of purses, and wearing her mom’s high heels?

But as our family gathered for her graduation and I began thinking about that week, it made me reflect on some principles I tried to apply to our family vacations and trips. I didn’t perfectly follow them and we certainly had our share of family meltdowns. But maybe you will find these principles helpful.

1. Remember a vacation and a family trip are two different things. I can’t remember where I heard this but it is key to managing my expectations. When you are taking young children along you are not going on vacation; you are going on a family trip.  If I have expectations of complete rest on a trip with children I will become upset and angry. No, a family trip requires lots of service on my part. I may have moments of vacation. Or maybe my wife and I will take some time off later. But when the children are young, family trips require lots of work on my part.

2. Family Trips are a powerful opportunity to build family identity and family memories. For many years, we drove our young children down to Alabama to visit their grandparents. That 22-hour, 2 day trip was exhausting. In the days before DVDs, we had to strategize about keeping them occupied (book time, game time, story time, etc). But when we talk about those trips now, our children have fond memories. Why? Our family was together having fun. That time in the car, even with the diaper explosions, was a great help in building family identity.

We are not just six individuals living under the same roof. The Lord has put us together as a family. Time away can help reinforce this truth.

3. Family Trips offer everyone a chance to develop a heart of service.  To paraphrase Augustine, sin causes us to curve in on ourselves. And family trips magnify that curve. However, the unique challenges also give us a chance to grow in serving others. In addition, it is a chance to train our children in service as well. Older children can help with younger children. Everyone can help serve mom (or dad).  We all can show honor to our grandparents. The natural self-centeredness I feel, my children feel also. We will need to fight that by the power of the Spirit.

4. Family Trips offer a chance to learn about the larger body of Christ. We tried to make it a habit to go to church on Sunday. Visiting churches in different parts of the country exposed our children to other believers. Did they complain sometimes? Of course. But it gave them a richer perspective and was teaching our own values without trying.

5. Family trips need margin to succeed. How many times did I have to learn this the hard way? The bigger the ship, the more margin it takes. Something always goes wrong. I need to remember that I love my family by making sure we have plenty of margin. In addition to planning activities, unhurried conversations with my children were also valuable. And those only happened because we had margin.

6. Family trips give us a chance to express praise and thankfulness. No matter where we go or don’t go, having time off is an expression of God’s kindness. There are plenty of impoverished families around the world who cannot even think of taking time off. So no matter what goes wrong (and it will) my heart of praise and thankfulness is key. Family times together give us a chance to praise our Creator for his creation. And they give us a chance to deliberately express thankfulness for each in the family.

Family trips are not a break from discipleship. Rather, they are another God-given opportunity to love on your own family and develop your own Christlikeness. To coin a phrase – Don’t waste your family trip!

Miscellaneous|

A Prodigal Teen Repents: An Interview with Travis Rymer

If you are the parent of a prodigal, it can be easy to feel shame, guilt, and regret. We can say to ourselves, “If I had done everything right, he would not have rebelled.” Join me in this episode as I have a conversation with a man who deliberately rebelled in his teen years. Travis does not blame his parents. No, he praises his parents their walk with the Lord. Listen to the heartache they had to go through. And then be dazzled by how God miraculously saved him. This conversation should give hope to parents everywhere.

Podcast|

Why “OK?” Is Not OK

The heart of The Disciple-Making Parent is helping parents pass the gospel to and disciple their children. Inevitably that spills over into what we might call Basic Parenting or Parenting 101. I cover this in my Parenting with Confidence seminar and course.

And in that teaching I make a Study Bible analogy. In a Study Bible, there are inspired words from God that you may not argue with, only seek to understand and obey. There are also words that are commentary from fallible men and women. This Study Bible notes are not inspired but come from wisdom.

I offer the following post knowing that it fits squarely in the “Study Bible Notes” part of parenting. I cannot point to a chapter and verse to back it up but I think it represents wisdom.

“OK?” is Not OK
With that caveat, what is the point of this post? – I want to argue that “OK?” is not OK.

In other words, as I observe parents giving commands to their small children, I often hear them ending with the question, “OK?”

For example, “Alex give that toy back to Sarah. OK?” “Jonathan, it’s time to go. I want you to start cleaning up your toys. OK?”

I don’t like this word pattern because of what it implies. It takes a command that should be obeyed and then softens it. In essence, we asking our child, “Is that ok with you?” It carries the tone of “I am giving you a command. But it has to be ok with you. You have to want to do it. If it is not ok, then don’t do it.” I believe that our young children internalize that message. They become the arbitrator of whether they will obey the command or not.

Positively,  underneath this question is a desire not to be a military parent who goes around barking orders. And there is an openness to more information. Those are good impulses. But I don’t think they outweigh the possible negative message our children might hear.

“Understand?”
Let me suggest an alternative that both engages a young child after a command and yet does not seem to offer him a choice. It rightly places him or her under our authority.

It is the question – “Understand?”

Thus a script might go,

“Alex?” “Yes Mom.” “Give that toy back to Sarah. Understand?” “Yes, Mom.” or

“Jonathan?” “Yes Dad. “Its time to go. Start cleaning up your toys. Do you understand?” “Yes Dad.”

This type of script should be going on tens or even hundreds of times a day.

There is: 1. A call for their attention with a response. 2. A reasonable command. 3. A question asking for their response and obtaining it.

The Appeal Rule
This also works well when combined with the appeal rule. The appeal rule allows a child to say something like, “Please may I appeal?” or “Please may I ask why?” It allows the child to offer more information that the parent might not know about and prevents frustration.

For example, in our scenarios above, Alex might say, “Please may I appeal Mom?” “What is it Alex?” “Sarah told me she was through playing with the toy.” or Jonathan might say, “Please may I appeal Dad?” “What is it Jonathan?” “I am almost done building my tower. Can I just have some more time?”

Thus there is an outlet for an appeal.

Conclusion
Loving parents try to combine asking for a response and an openness to more information by packing too much into the word, “OK?” Instead of giving the child the authority to choose, retain that authority by asking “Understand?” and having the appeal rule as an option.

I do not believe our child’s eternal destiny lies on whether we do this as a family. And we don’t want to judge others. But it does line up with the understanding of training our children to live under our authority.

This pattern was a blessing to our family. Try it! I think you will be blessed.

Parenting|

Admonishment, Peacemaking, and Healthy Church Life

Young people say that the #1 reason they walk away from the faith is hypocrisy in the church.

What is the cause of this hypocrisy and how can we solve it?

In this episode we talk about the missing elements of admonishment, peacemaking, and church discipline. Surprisingly, this is important for a healthy church life and a healthy family life.

 

 

Podcast|

Patient Parenting Video Series

As I talk with parents of young children, increasingly I find that anger is a huge and hidden problem in the home. Parents know they should not get upset but often feel stuck in a rut. Whenever I mention this project I get lots of nods like, “Yes I need this.”

I have taught on this a number of time and received positive feedback. At an event, when someone asks me a question about this subject, I have to give a three minute and answer but think, “If only I could explain this more in depth, you would be able to rise above this issue.”

An individual or small group video series would take this teaching and help numerous families across the country and even around the world. I have estimated the cost to write, shoot, edit video is $6800.

We will cover

  • Anger as Your Friend and Foe
  • The Seriousness of Anger
  • The Root of Anger
  • Why Anger Can Be Your Friend
  • How Anger is a Prompt to Parent Your Children Better
  • Developing a Parenting Plan to Overcome Your Anger

Can you see the strategic needWould you like to partner with me in this endeavor? 

To have a little fun, I would like to throw in some crowdfunding incentives.

  • With a donation of $100 or more, you and your church can have lifetime access to the series.
  • With a donation of $250 or more, I am happy to do personal coaching session on this issue or any issue for your family.
  • Finally, with a donation of $500 or more, I would be happy to do a personal video teaching session with your church or small group.

Thank you for considering helping me fund this project. If you want to dialogue with me about it just hit reply. If you would like to donate you can go to www.theapollosproject.com/donate

I never want to be “that ministry” that is always asking for money, but we are fully dependent on God’s people for “the seed.” Consider this a joyful invitation to join in God’s work.

Video|

A Tale of a Men’s Retreat and a Father/Son Retreat

This past week I had the privilege of speaking at our men’s retreat. Sharing our camp was another church that was having a father-son retreat. I came away with several thoughts.

1. A men’s retreat can include young men. The children in our church are relatively young. But we did have one teen come along with us. He circulated among the men, sitting at different tables when eating. He was appropriately engaged and listened.  And he sat in on men talking about, among other things, their struggle with pornography.

This fits well into my understanding of the teen years. In our house we saw the 12/13 age as a transition from childhood to young adulthood. We called it adult-in-training.

I think it is very appropriate for churches to invite young men on a men’s retreat provided they act like young men. In other words, they come along knowing they will be attending an adult men’s retreat. They will not group together with other teens.

They are welcome to come on a men’s retreat or men’s breakfast and since they are men in training they will take this opportunity to learn and listen to other men. They might even come with prepared questions. They will interact and listen a lot.

To start the transition, a church might want to start by inviting a certain older age, like 15 year-olds and up.

2. A Father-Son retreat meets a different need. The other group had a different focus. It definitely was a Father-Son retreat. Lots of games and a loud, raucous time. I don’t know what material they covered or serious activities they engaged in. But there is great value in stepping back and having time for grade-school boys to spend time with fathers. In addition, there were so many young boys I would not be surprised if they brought along boys from single-mom families.

There, on display, are two easy ways to encourage intergenerational relationships. No dramatic programming. No extra money. It fits easily into the church calendar.

Might one of those work in your context?

Church Life|

Who Should Discipline? Mom or Dad?

I was recently presenting at a conference and was suggesting that Aaron’s son’s sins of active disobedience and passive disobedience might have been influenced by Aaron’s passivity as a leader. Though parents are certainly not responsible for the choices our children make as adults, we do have some influence over them as we shape their wills growing up.

One application of that talk was to strongly suggest that men fight passivity and engage in leading their home and specifically in the area of child discipline.

At the end of that talk, one mom asked this question, “I have just come from a talk where the female speaker was urging the women not to be pushovers and put the discipline on the fathers. How would you fit those two thought together.”

This was a helpful question because it allows us to correct what listeners might be hearing that we are not saying.

My response was something like this:

I don’t think we are contradicting each other at all. Men can have a temptation to be overbearing or passive in parenting. By far the most common struggle is passivity. Moms have temptations as well not to be the “bad guy” and inflict some sort of painful discipline on the little one that they love. They can be tempted to either spoil them or pass the buck to the father saying, “Just wait until your dad gets home.” As a result, dads regularly walk into a messy situation at the end of the day and are too often the bad guy in the relationship.

Ideally, mom and dad are on the same page in terms of correction. Mom carries it out when dad is not around. She only refers the “big things” to him. Dad makes sure that the family has a plan and the children are under control.

My wife and I tried to follow these principles.
1. Dad and mom are a team in leading the household in the area of discipline with Dad ultimately responsible before God.
2. God expects and commands men to discipline their children (Ephesian 6:4, Hebrews 12:x, 1 Tim 3:4-5). When children are wild and disobedient it is a black mark on the man (Titus 1:6, 1 Tim 3:4-5).
3. Therefore, I as the dad need to learn about parenting principles and make sure my wife and I are on the same page. As a dad, I can delegate but I cannot abdicate.
4. This means that we will learn together godly principles of child-rearing.
5. Since we are on the same page, I will trust her as the person onsight the most with the children. She will be most in tune with what they need.
6. We will communicate often to come up with plans that are working and that she can implement. Dad will value Mom’s insight and suggestions. Since Dad is to lead the family, Mom will bring issues to him and thoughtfully engage with his insights.
7. Since we are a team, we will not disagree about discipline in front of the children. We may have those disagreements offline. But in the moment, the children will see a united front.
8. Moms can and should correct and enforce the principles of discipline. Those same commands in #2, apply to women as co-regents with your husband.
9. When Dad is home, he will take the lead if discipline or correction needs to occur. He will not sit passively in the other room while his wife hands out discipline. This grows even truer the older the children become.
10. Moms will watch carefully their own temptation to overrule and disregard their husbands as well as passively pass all the difficult issues to him.

Parenting, Video|

Eight Thoughts on Protecting the Purity of Your Daughter

Here are eight thoughts on protecting the purity of our daughters. To my daughters, these are my prayers and aims for you!

1. Gain and Keep Her Heart – Does she know and trust you, her parents? Do you know her heart? Have you taken time to listen? Is she finding her identity in Christ and not in a relationship with someone else?

2. Protect Her Purity – As a child, the parents are the door to the sheepfold, protecting her from the wolves. As she grows older it becomes a shared responsibility.

3. Show the Beauty of Purity and the Dazzling Disgust of Impurity – Does she recognize that the greatest gift she can give her future husband is her purity? Will that be the greatest gift I can offer my future son-in-law (2 Corinthians 11:2)?

4. Give Her a Roadmap to Marriage – If it is the Lord’s plan, neither you nor the Lord want her single forever. How can parents and our daughter work together to seek God’s best?

5. Stay Connected with Her Heart Even as She Leaves Home – Even when she is not under my roof, I want to stay connected with her until another valentine takes my place.

6. Ask for Commitments at Transition Points – Does she know the responsibility I feel? Does she love and believe the beauty of pure life? I want to communicate this to her at regular points.

7. Cast a Vision for the Benefits of Singleness – Our Savior was single. Paul was single. In fact, great kingdom work has been accomplished by singles. Singles have more time than we who are married. Let them hear from us, “Don’t waste your singleness!”

8. Pray Like Crazy – Nothing, nothing, nothing will happen without prayer. I will commit to regularly praying for my daughters’ purity.

And one more just as important:
9. Know that God’s Grace Covers Impurity – Even as we strive to honor the Lord in this area, know that God delights to save the truly broken. Sometimes that brokenness, rather than proud purity, is how we can see the Father’s heart. The father of the youngest prodigal accepted his repentant son back with open arms.

So to my two daughters, I pray God’s best for you!