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So far Hal Bettis has created 431 blog entries.

A Keynote Speech: The Disciple-Making Parent

I have the privilege of presenting the material of The Disciple-Making Parent in all sorts of settings. I have a five hour weekend workshop I can do. I present a practical how to workshop.

But I also present the material in a keynote style.

You can listen to that talk below.

Introduction and the Framework  – 1:22
God Intends The Great Commission to be the North Star – 10:30
You are God’s Most Effective Shepherd – 15:42
A Common Myth We Believe – 21:00
How to Disciple: Five Things to Focus On  – 25:10


Book Review: Reformation ABCs

In The Disciple-Making Parent, I have argued that one of the reasons parents are to lead the way in teaching their children is that we learn in the process. When something has to be explained to a child, the teacher must simplify it!

The Reformation ABCs book will help you both understand prominent figures in the Reformation and teach it to your young children. As we celebrate the 500th year of the Reformation in 2017, it is especially appropriate.

The book is both simple enough to read to a 4 or 5 year old but also will keep an 8 or 9 year old engaged. Of course, it includes the well known reformers such as Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. But it also include less well known individuals such as Durer, Queen Marguarite, and Queen Elizabeth I. And Y stand for you. “You are the next Reformer.”

I could see this being used for family reading or even a short stint as family devotions. If you don’t know church history, it will serve as an appetizer to start the juices flowing.

It would make a fun birthday or Christmas gift to the family. Give it to the dad who is afraid of family devotions. Fun and simple.

Purchase it here.

Book Reviews|

How to Move an Atheist/Agnostic to Study the Bible

A home that is actively sharing Jesus with others is a faith-filled home that is attractive to teenage children. Evangelism is a fruit of a healthy Christian.

Hence the following post:

I recently heard this helpful conversation flow which comes from Becky Pippert author of the classic book on evangelism, Out of the Saltshaker. I think it might be helpful for all of us

Atheist: I don’t believe in God. I’m an atheist.
Christian: Well isn’t that kind of crazy to say that you have searched exhaustively high and low and proven there is no God? Don’t you mean you are an agnostic? In other words, you dont really know if there is a God or not.

Atheist: Yeah, I guess you are right. I am really an agnostic.
Christian: Well are you an open-minded agnostic or close-minded agnostic?

Atheist: What do you mean?
Christian: A close-minded agnostic has no interest in discovering if what he or she believes is right or wrong. An open-minded agnostic is willing to investigate the evidence.

Atheist: What evidence are you talking about?
Christian: Have you ever looked at the primary source documents of Christianity? To really understand Christianity you need to go back to the ancient documents.

Atheist: What are those?
Christian: We are studying those at my house. We will be looking at the ancient biography of Jesus – the letter written by John.

Consider how this conversation flow might equip you to move an “atheist” to consider studying the Bible.


Teaching Children the Substitutionary Atonement Based on Luke 23

I have often used the story of the two thieves on the cross to explain the substitutionary atonement of Christ. Both children and adults can learn from this simple chart!

The pertinent verses are Luke 23:40-43.

The penitent thief says, “Don’t you fear God, since we are under the same sentence? We are punished justly for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

When using it, I would:
1. Draw the three crosses.
2. I would ask what was true of the two thieves. Then I would fill in the boxes above their heads.
3. I would ask what was true of Jesus. Then I would fill in the box above his head. Notice it says “Righteous” not “Innocent.” There is a difference.
4. I would ask, “So, how does the thief get to be in paradise?” Then I draw the line from the thief to Jesus. And then the line from Jesus to the thief.

Theologians call this double imputation. Our sin is placed on Christ and his righteousness is placed on us. God made him who knew no sin be sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). What a great truth!

Figure 2 Cross

This illustration comes from The Disciple-Making Parent.




Want your children to follow Christ as adults? Up to 50% of young people walk away. Check out The Disciple-Making Parent. And for a free audiobook with your purchase, simply email us.

Power of the Gospel|

Book Review: What is the Gospel?

We have just finished celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Why was the Reformation so important?

The answer is that through the years the gospel of salvation by grace alone, from Christ alone, through faith alone had become obscured. Men and women were participating in religious activity but they did not understand the core of Christianity – the true gospel. The gospel had become obscured.

A Problem In Our Families?
I wonder if this lack of gospel clarity is also a problem in our homes as we raise our children. In The Disciple-Making Parent I say this:

Surprisingly, for something so important, the gospel can be easily blurred, assumed, or forgotten. As believing parents we often assume our children understand and are being taught the gospel. And so, we wrongly think we can concentrate on other things in their development. In fact, though, the gospel is being assumed. When this happens we are on dangerous ground. Mack Stiles has observed, “Losing the gospel doesn’t happen all at once.” How is it lost? Stiles tells us, “The gospel is accepted. The gospel is assumed. The gospel is confused. The gospel is lost.” And D.A. Carson adds, “When we assume the gospel, we are one generation from denying it.” (p. 76 The Disciple-Making Parent)

What is the Gospel?
Enter the little book What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert. This small book (121 pages) seeks to lay out the gospel clearly and succinctly with no frills.

His chapters are:
Introduction – “What is the gospel?” Today’s authors give a surprisingly wide range of answers to that question.
1. Finding the Gospel in the Bible – Gilbert’s main point is that it is not just a matter of doing a word search on gospel in the New Testament. He is going to take us through Romans 1-4 because Paul was laying the gospel out systematically to a church he had not met.
2. God the Righteous Creator – The Gospel starts with understanding God is our creator and has the right to ask us anything. Additionally, he is righteous and holy. We are accountable to him.
3. Man the Sinner – Though made in the image of God, men and women are sinners. We choose to rebel against God. Don’t confuse being guilty of sin with our individual sins or the effect of sins. We are guilty of all.
4. Jesus Christ the Savior – But God sent Jesus, the God-man, as the suffering King to die in our place on the cross.
5. Response:Faith and Repentance – We must respond in faith to Christ. This faith is that the righteous requirements have been met in Christ on the cross. Our response is faith alone. If faith is turning to Jesus and relying on him for salvation, repentance is the flip side of that coin. Repentance is not perfection but it is taking sides.
6. The Kingdom – Conversion brings us into a kingdom. It is a kingdom that has started but that is not complete.
7. Keeping the Cross at the Center – In this chapter Gilbert takes us through three ways the gospel has been proclaimed that are either wrong or move the cross off center stage.
8. The Power of the Gospel – In the final chapter Gilbert invites us to follow Christ.

My Take
What is the Gospel is helpful for its clarity and minimalism. There are few stories or writer’s flourishes. Instead, Gilbert wants to make sure the clarity of the gospel is bold and bright. For that I am truly grateful. It is a helpful tool so that we will not assume the Gospel. To paraphrase Tim Keller, The gospel is not the ABCs of Christianity but the A to Z. We never outgrow our need for the Gospel. 

My only, tiny, quibble has to do with wishing the Resurrection was included more (see 1 Corinthians 15:1ff).

For parents who read this blog, I could see this tool being used to make sure the gospel is clear in our heads. And that is always important. For a mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pews. Lack of clarity for the teacher means fogginess for the students.

Get it. Read it. Make sure the gospel is clear in your head. And make sure you are talking about the gospel with your children.

Remember “When we assume the gospel, we are one generation from losing it.”

Twenty Quotations

What is the gospel of Jesus Christ? You’d think that would be an easy question to answer, especially for Christians. p. 15

When you come right down to it, Christians just don’t agree on what the gospel is—even Christians who call themselves evangelical. P. 17.

First, if you are a Christian, I pray this little book and the glorious truths it attempts to articulate will cause your heart to swell with joy and praise toward Jesus Christ for what he has accomplished for you. An emaciated gospel leads to emaciated worship. Second, I hope that reading this book will give you a deeper confidence as you talk to others. Third, I pray that you will see the importance of this gospel for the life of the church, as a result you will work to see that this gospel is preached, sung, prayed, taught, proclaimed, and heard in every aspect of your church’s life. Fourth I hope this little book will help to shore up the edges of the gospel in your mind and heart. Finally, if you are not a Christian, then I pray that by reading this book you will be provoked to think hard about the good news of Jesus Christ. P. 20-22.

1. Finding the Gospel in the Bible
Let me suggest that for now, we approach the task of defining the main contours of the Christian gospel not by doing a word study but by looking at what the earliest Christians said about Jesus and significance of his life, death, and resurrection. P .27

One of the best places to start looking for a basic explanation of the gospel is Paul’s letter to the Romans…First, Paul tessl his readers that it is God to whom they are accountable….Second Paul tells his readers that their problems is that they rebelled against God….Third, Paul says that God’s salvation to humanities sin is the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ…Finally, Paul tells his readers how they themselves can be included in that salvation. P. 29-31.

Four Crucial Questions: 1. Who made us, and to whom are we accountable? 2. What is our problem? In other words, are we in trouble and why? 3. What is God’s solution to the problem? How has he acted to save us from it? 4. How do I –myself right here right now—how do I come to be included in that salvation. What makes this good news for me and not just for someone else? P. 31

2. God the Righteous Creator
For the most part, [God]’s a kind, affable, slightly dazed and needy but very loving grandfather who has wished but no demands, can be safely ignored if you don’t have time for him, and is very, very, very understanding of the fact that human beings make mistakes—much more understanding, in fact, than the rest of us are. p. 38-39.

Because he created us, God has the right to tell us how to live. P.42.
We will see late how the seemingly impenetrable contradiction in Exodus 34:6-7—a God who “forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin” and yet, “does not leave the guilty unpunished”—is resolved by the death of Jesus on the cross. P. 43.

3. Man the Sinner
It’s a breaking of the relationship, and even more, it is a rejection of God himself –-a repudiation of God’s rule, God’s care, God’s authority, and God’s right to command those to whom he gave life. In short, it is rebellion of the creature against the Creator. P. 48.

This is why it is absolutely crucial that we understand both the nature and the depth of our sin. If we approach the gospel thinking it is something else or something less than what it really is, we will badly misunderstand the good news of Jesus Christ.. p. 51.

There is a huge difference between understanding yourself to be guilty of sins, and knowing yourself guilty of sin. P. 54.

It is only when we realize that our very nature is sinful, that we are indeed – dead in our trespasses and sins as Paul says that we see how good the news is that there is a way to be saved. P. 55.

4. Jesus Christ the Savior.
The Bible is the story of God’s counteroffensive against sin. It is the grand narrative of how God made it right, how he is making it right, and how he will one day make it right finally and forever. P. 61.

You see King Jesus came not only to inaugurate the kingdom of God, but also to bring sinners into it by dying for their sin, taking their punishment on himself and securing forgiveness for them, making them righteous in God’s sight, and qualifying them to share in the inheritance of the kingdom. P. 65.

5. Response – Faith and Repentance
Faith and repentance. This what marks out those who are Christ’s people, or “Christians.” In other words, a Christian is one who turns away from sin and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ – and nothing else – to save him from sin and the coming judgment. P. 73.

6. The Kingdom
The kingdom of God is God’s redemptive rule and reign over his people….God’s kingdom is therefore God’s rule, reign, and authority. p. 87.

First, the kingdom of God is not yet completed, and yet it will not be completed until King Jesus returns…The strong man was bound, but not destroyed. Evil was defeated but not annihilated, and the kingdom was inaugurated, but not brought to full and final completion. P. 90.

I used to think as a child that the Christian’s destiny was to spend eternity in a never-ending disembodied church service. That was scary thought! P. 91-92

7. Keeping the Cross in the Center
Nevertheless the pressure to find a “bigger” more “relevant” gospel seems to have taken hold of a great many people. Again and again, in book after book, we see descriptions of the gospel that end up relegating the cross to a secondary position. In its place are declarations that the heart of the gospel is that God will remake the world, or that he has promised a kingdom that will set everything right, or that he calling us to join him in transforming our culture. Whatever the specifics, the result is that over and over again, the death of Jesus in the place of sinners is assumed, marginalized, or even ignored. P. 103

8. The Power of the Gospel
How is it that I let the beauty and power and vastness of that gospel be crowded out of my mind so often and for so long? Why is it that my thoughts are often dominated by silly things like whether my car is clear, or what’s happening on CNN right now, or whether I was with happy with my lunch today, rather than by those glorious truths? Why do I so often organize and think about my life as I were wearing blinders, rather than in light of eternity? P. 115.




Want your children to follow Christ as adults? Up to 50% of young people walk away. Check out The Disciple-Making Parent. And for a free audiobook with your purchase, simply email us.


Book Reviews|

7 Principles for Becoming a Contented Parent

I recently had the privilege of hearing Erik Raymond, author of Chasing Contentment, speak on that very subject. He is an excellent, low-key, metaphor-filled speaker. As he was addressing us, I found myself applying his words to my life at home. Maybe they can help you too.

Here are some personal reflections on thinking about contentment and discontentment in my home.

1. My home is ground zero where I see my discontented heart.
Whether grumbling to myself about my spouse, my children, my finances, my home or a myriad of other things, it is easy to be discontented about my family life. Perhaps I have high hopes that are not being fulfilled. Perhaps I am comparing my spouse or children to others. Maybe there are little irritations that I have to learn to live with.

Whatever the case, home reveals my heart. Furthermore, my children are watching my attitude. If I am grumbling about my spouse they will notice it. If I am nitpicking them or her, they will observe. Rather than excusing my complaining and blameshifting to others, let me realize that grumbling comes from my heart not from my circumstances.

2. My home life is ground zero where I learn to have a contented heart.
If home reveals my heart, home can also be a small place I can grow. Confession and microrepentances can help me to receive these irritations from the Lord. These can help me put on thankfulness and encouragement for those closest to me. They can cause me to find my ultimate contentment in Christ not my family. Contentment is a learned attribute. Paul said he had learned to be content in any situation.

3. My contentment at home is about my heart.
My contentment at home does not depend on my circumstances. In Erik’s words, “Circumstances don’t speak to contentment; contentment must speak to the circumstances. As Elisabeth Elliott has said in Keep a Quiet Heart, “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”

4. My contentment is grounded in my view of God’s character and God’s providence.
Contentment finds its strength, source, and model in God. Before Genesis 1, God the Father, Son, and Spirit dwelt in happy contentment. I, too, can dwell in happy contentment no matter what.

In addition, do I trust there is a good God and a wise God behind the circumstances in my life today? As John Flavel said, “Providence, like Hebrew letters, should be read backwards.” Do I believe my circumstances are tailormade to make me like Christ, and Christ is the tailor?

5. Teaching our children to be contented should be a goal of every parent.
We are surrounded by harried families rushing from activity to activity. Business use discontentment so that we will buy the next upgrade. Social media projects happy images that causes discontentment to resonate within our heart. As parents, our job is not to keep our children from ever being bored or discontented. Our job is to cast a vision for learned contentment in the circumstance.

6. Lack of contentment in my children is probably not a problem with my parenting.
Discontentment and fussy children are usually not a problem with us as parents but with the character of our children. A friend who is a pediatrician recently observed that some moms can’t seem to stand their children being unhappy at all. They rush to fix any unhappiness. While certainly I want to give my children opportunities and see them flourish, I am going to balance that with the need to train them to live in a fallen world where they will need to learn internal contentment in Christ.

7. Contentment is not equal to complacency, lukewarmness, or laziness.
We don’t want to ere on the other side. There is a godly ambition and hard work that should empower us well. This godly discontentment that should cause us, to paraphrase Thomas Godwin, “Sue God for his promises in prayer.” Paul told his audience that if they could gain their freedom, they should (1 Cor 7:21).

There is certainly more that can be said about training for contentment whether your children are three or thirteen. But these are some principles to lay the foundation for our family.

Families with a gospel contentment will display the glory of Christ to a frantic world.

You can find Erik’s book here.

Some further notes from Erik’s talks.
Contentment is inward not outward.

If contentment comes from the inside out it is untouchable.
Circumstances dont speak to contentment, contentment must speak to the circumstances.
At the heart of contentment is about what is inside us not what is outside of us.

Contentment is quiet not complaining.

What is in the well comes out in the bucket. What is coming out of my mouth?
Moses said that the Israelites were not complaining about him but about God.

Contentment is a work of grace, not human effort.

My contentment must come from Christ sufficiency not self-sufficiency.
Am I weak enough to need grace?

Contentment rests in God’s providence.

Everything he gives us is from his hand.

Contentment is based on the Trinitarian contentment of God.
Before Genesis 1, God was was perfectly content in his communion of the three persons. Creation was out of contentment not out of lack or discontentment. We find out contentment in God and he is our model.

Why is contentment so elusive?
Adam and Eve are our model. She never had a discontented thought until the devil attacked. He attacked the clarity of what God said, the truthfulness, and the motive. He packaged death in a shiny wrapper.

Divine Contentment is
1. A silent spirit not complaining.
2. A cheerful spirit.
3. A thankful spirit.
4. Not bound by circumstances.
5. Not avoiding trouble that comes.


Book Review: Tactics

I have recently been reading and loving the book Tactics by Greg Koukl.

Koukl is a skillful questioner and has honed his “Columbo Questions” as a way to cause people to question what they believe. His desire, he tells us, is to “put a pebble in a person’s shoe.” In other words, he just wants to get them to doubt things they hold to be true.

Basic to his strategy is adopting an attitude like Columbo. The famous TV detective appeared inept but he would constantly ask one more question to help him gain understanding and tighten the noose. Eventually Columbo got his killer.

The Columbo Questions
Similarly, Koukl’s encourages us to ask Columbo like questions. His two basic questions are:

1. “What do you mean by that?”
This question causes the person you are talking with to define their terms. For example, when a person says that “Everything is relative,” ask “What do you mean by relative. Is everything relative? Even your own statement?” People will often have a hard time defining their own terms or applying them consistently.

2. “How did you come to that conclusion?”  If the first question helps us understand what they believe, this statement helps us understand why they believe it. This second question reinforces the burden of proof rule. The burden of proof rule is this: the person making the statements must defend their position. For example, if a person says “The NT is full of error,” we can ask “What research led you to this conclusion?” Or we can ask, “What are your reasons for holding this view?”

After expanding on these two questions giving numerous examples, Koukl then also gives us examples of how he handles different objections. With his sharp mind he shows us how some questions refute themselves. (“There is no truth.” “So this statement is not true?”). Other questions help the person we are talking with realize that they cannot live consistently with the position they hold.

My Take
On the positive side, this book is filled with wise advice about asking questions. And as you know I love collecting questions. Tactics shows the assumptions underneath questions and helps Christians become more skilled in responding. In particular, I think every college student ought to be required to read Chapter 2 where Koukl talks about how to put the burden of proof back on the hostile classroom professor. Reading this book, you will be better equipped to ask good questions of those who might be hostile or indifferent to the faith.

Tactics is a helpful book to round out your knowledge of sharing our faith. But on the negative side, we should realize that showing someone what they are believing is not true is very different than having them receive Christ. Winning an argument is not the same as embracing Christ. Sharing our faith and seeing someone place their faith in Christ will require a fuller explanation of the gospel and the loving witness of the church. But what Koukl sets out to do, he does well. We are equipped to guide the conversation using questions. 

So Why a Review Here?
So why a review on this site? I think a number of families could be helped by reading this book.

First, parents of teens and parents of prodigals could learn a lot from Koukl. As our children grow into teens we must become better at asking question out of a genuine desire to understanding. In addition, if they have some ideas that we don’t agree with (and they will!) we can ask questions rather than lecture. We don’t want to have a “gotcha” attitude but we do want to help our teens think clearly.

A second use would be to equip our teens to live wisely. As our world becomes increasingly hostile to Christianity, we want to teach our children to be wise as serpents. Teaching them to ask questions and see the underlying assumptions is also part of our discipleship of our children. Again, I highly recommend Chapter 2 for interacting with professors. Koukl has some wise ideas about interacting with hostile teachers.

Below you can find some quotations from Tactics.

Quotations from Tactics

The ability to argue well is vital for clear thinking. That’s why arguments are good things. Arguing is a virtue because it helps us determine what is true and discard what is false. p. 33

All I want to do is put a stone in someone’s shoe. p. 38.

“I understand that many of you think Christians are stupid. Well some of them are. But many nonChristians are stupid too so I don’t know how that helps you. What I want to do this evening is to show you that Christianity is not stupid.” p. 40

There is a difference between an argument and a fight…Arguments on the other hand are good things. Indeed, arguing is a virtue because it advances clearer thinking. If done well, it helps refine our understanding of truth. p. 40

In his wonderful little book, In But Not Of, a primer for Christians on thoughtful engagement with the culture, Hewitt advises asking at least a half-dozen questions in every conversation. p 47

Sometimes the little things have the greatest impact. Using simple leading questions is an almost effortless way to introduce spiritual topics to a conversation without seeming abrupt, rude, or pushy. Questions are engaging and interactive, probing yet amicable. Most important, they keep you in the drivers seat while someone else does all the work. p. 48.

Columbo Tactic Question 1: What do you mean by that? p. 50.

The burden of proof is the responsibility someone has to defend or give evidence for his view. Generally, the rule can be summed up this way: Whoever makes the claim bears the burden. The key here is not to allow yourself to be thrust into a defensive position when the other person is make the claim. It’s not your duty to prove him wrong. It ‘s his duty to prove his view. p .59.

Our second Columbo question is, “Now, how did you come to that conclusion?” is designed to enforce the burden-of-proof rule. Remember this is our model question. You might also ask, “Why do you say that?,” “What are your reasons for holding this view.”…”How did you come to that conclusion?” p. 61, 65.

If you are placed in a situation where you suspect your convictions will be labeled intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded or judgmental, use Columbo to turn the tables. When someone asks for your personal views about a controversial issue, preface your remarks with a question that sets the stage in your favor for your responses. Say, “You know, this is actually a very personal question you’re asking. I don’t mind answering, but before I do I want to know if it is safe to offer my views. So let me ask you a question: Do you consider yourself a tolerant person or an intolerant person on issues like this. Is it safe to give my opinion, or are you going to judge me for my point of view. Do you respect diverse points of view, or do you condemn others for convictions that differ from your own? p. 77-78.

The quickest way to deal with a personal attack is to simply point it out with a question. When someone goes after you rather than your argument, ask, “I’m a little confused about your response. Even if you were right about my character, could you explain to me exactly what that has to do with the issue.” p. 79.

One of the advantages of the Columbo tactic is not having to assert something you want someone to believe. You aren’t taking the burden of proof on yourself. Instead, you accomplish your goal in an entirely different –and more powerful—way. You use questions to make the point for you. p. 82.

We may spend hours helping someone carefully work through an issue without ever mentioning God, Jesus, or the Bible. This does not mean we aren’t advancing the kingdom. It is always a step in the right direction when we help others think more carefully. If nothing else, it gives them tools to assess the bigger questions that eventually come up. p. 83.

Since my goal is usually to persuade, in most conversations I adopt a genial approach of Lieutenant Columbo himself. I soften my challenge by introducing some questions with phrases like, “I’m just curious…..,” Something about this bothers me….,” “Maybe I’m missing something…..,” or “Maybe you can clear this up for me…” p. 99.

When statements fail to meet their own criteria of validity, they are self-refuting:
There is no truth. (Is this statement true?)
There are no absolutes. (Is this an absolute?)
No one can know any truth about religion (And how, precisely, did you come to know that truth about religion?) p. 108.

Some points of view fail the pragmatic test. They simply cannot work in real-life application. There is no logical contradiction, strictly speaking, just a practical one. In this type of suicide, you can hold the view but you can’t promote it. p. 121.

“You shouldn’t force your morality on other people.” I always ask, “Why not?” What will he be able to say? He certainly can’t respond by saying, “Its wrong.” That option is no longer open to him.” p. 124.

Surprisingly, instead of evil being a good argument against God, I am convinced it is one of the best evidences for God…As C.S. Lewis notes, “My argument against God was that the universe seemed cruel and unjust. But how had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call something crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” p. 137.

I first learned the tactic of Taking the Roof Off from Francis Schaeffer. The tactic itself is simple. First adopt the other person’s viewpoint for the sake of argument. Next, give his idea a test drive. Try to determine where you will end up if you follow his instruction faithfully. If you arrive at an odd destination, point it out and invite the person to reconsider his starting point. p. 143.

Why do we all feel guilty? “Maybe guilt is just a cultural construction. I guess that is possible. But there’s another possibility. Maybe you feel guilty because you are guilty….The answer to guilt is not denial. The answer to guilt is forgiveness. That is where Jesus comes in.” p. 145.

Since oppression and mayhem are neither religious duties for Christians nor logical application of the teaching of Jesus, violence done in the name of Christ cannot be laid at his door. This conduct might tell you something about people.. It tells you nothing about God or the gospel. p. 177.

Buy Tactics here.

While here, check out The Disciple-Making Parent and The Donut Date Journal.

Book Reviews|

Principles of Discipline From Hebrews 12

As a parent and pastor, I love seeing when someone I teach lights up with understanding. This past Saturday, I taught my Parenting with Confidence seminar and that “light bulb moment” happened when we talked about discipline.

Specifically, we talked about the reason we discipline. As a parent it can be difficult to impose pain on one we love. But our chastisement is rooted in the nature of God. We learn to deal with our children by looking at how the perfect Father loves his.

In The Disciple-Making Parent, I talk about why we discipline from a discipleship point of view. In this post, I want to look at a more specific Scriptural basis for discipline.

The Father Disciplines Us

Ultimately, we discipline because the Father disciplines us. We understand how to relate to our child by looking at our Heavenly Father. God created the earthly relationship to understand the heavenly one, not the other way around. So our discipline of our children is rooted in the perfect character of God.

Let’s look at Hebrews 12:6-11 for some clues on heavenly and earthly discipline.

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

As a young father seeking God’s wisdom, this passage was extremely helpful to me. What are some principles that fall from this passage?

Some Guiding Principles
1. Discipline is from God. the discipline of the Lord – The Lord disciplines us. We are like him when we discipline. It is an outworking of his love toward us. This is an action of God toward his people.

2. Discipline is an act of love. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves. – He is love and yet he disciplines us because he loves. Proverbs tells us that to not discipline is to hate. The motive is love. Jesus said, “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline.” So if a parent says, “I love him too much to discipline him,” Scripture would tell us you are hating him and loving yourself.

3. Discipline starts with fathers. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. –Fathers should take the lead in disciplining. This agrees with Ephesians 6:4 where fathers are commanded to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord.

4. Discipline results in respect toward parents. and we respected them. – Proper discipline results in respect not alienation. There is a reason God gives us little children. When they disobey our commands, they know there should be a consequence. When there is no consequence, they start to lose respect for us. It is similar to the classroom teacher that cannot control his or her class. There is no respect for the teacher. Too many parents want their children to like them. Our children will like us when they are adults if they respect us when they are children.

5. Our discipline is for a short time. For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them. – Believe it or not, you will not always be correcting your children. In the broad span of their life, our discipline is really only for a very short time.

6. Our discipline is Imperfect. For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them. – What a sweet relief this verse is! As it seemed best to them. That means that my discipline will be imperfect and they will survive! This is not to endorse uninformed thinking. Parenting with Confidence does help here. Nevertheless, I only have to do my best. We should not hold back out of fear of “messing up” our child. They come messed up already!- I know I did not discipline perfectly. They will survive. Loving, thoughtful discipline will not always be executed perfectly. But in a house where there is love and affection our children will “survive” our mistakes.

7. Discipline is painful. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, – Now we come to our foundational verse. Discipline is painful. The pain of the discipline we impose should be more than the pleasure of disobedience. It is hard to inflict negative consequences on our children but it is necessary. God, our loving heavenly Father, has a plan for your life this year that includes pain. One reason he brings that pain is for your growth.

8. Discipline results in righteousness/peace. but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Though it may not seem like it, discipline actually brings the fruit of peace and practical righteousness (or uprightness). Where there is not self-control, there is a lack of peace. The home is filled with conflict and lack of order. Where there is self-control there is peace in the home, peace in the heart, and a godliness.

9. Discipline has a purpose of trainingbut later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. – Training is not words. Training is action with teeth, with consequences. The final step in righteousness is training (2 Timothy 3:16). We hope our children have habits of godliness.

10. Discipline is heart oriented My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord… for those who have been trained by it. – This observation might surprise you but the writer aims his comments at the heart of the one being disciplined. One can accept discipline and be trained by it or one can refuse to learn from it. Proverbs calls that refusal to learn the actions of a fool. Similarly, as parents we want to aim not just at behavior but at the heart. We don’t want just obedience when we are looking for fear of punishment. Rather we are hoping for and pleading for a heartfelt orientation toward wisdom and obedience.

When we think about disciplining our children, our primary text is not Proverbs but the New Testament. When combining Ephesians 6:4 and Hebrews 12:6 and following, we see that our parenting flows out of the character of God. We parent like he does. The world now sees discipline has abusive. Scripture and experience would argue that loving, careful, and proper discipline brings the “fruitful peace of righteousness.”

Want your children to love and follow Jesus Christ?

In today’s hostile world you need a strategy.

These resources will give you confidence.


Two Tips for Connecting Your Children with Spiritual Mentors

Connecting Our Children to Spiritual Mentors

I was recently interviewed and asked how parents can connect their children with other mentors in the church. In The Disciple-Making Parent I quote Kara Powell who suggests trying to connect our children with a least five adults in an informal way.

But how can this happen? The church can certainly help but what can we do as parents?

I have written extensively on this in Chapter 6 of The Disciple-Making Parent. But in addition to that material I ended up adding several other things in this interview.

1. Teach your children to greet other adults.
Children can and should greet adults. Did you know that “Greet one another” is a NT command that is repeated four times?

Yet many parents never encourage their children to greet other adults and carry on a short conversation. We make excuses for them. We say they are “shy.” The reality is that children can be trained out of shyness.

Depending on the ages of our children, we can and should train them to interact with a few adults. Sunday morning worship or a meal at someone’s home is a perfect chance. We can help our children by giving them questions to ask. Prepare them by saying something like, “I want you to go and shake Mr. Bettis’ hand and say ‘Hello.’ And then ask him how his week was.” My adult children laugh now remembering that one of our standard get-to-know you questions for guests that we gave them to ask was always, “Did you have any pets growing up?”

Many adults want to connect with young people but don’t know how. By putting the responsibility on our children it helps break the ice.

Right now in my church, I have two young guys, around 5 and 7 years old, who come up and greet me on some Sunday mornings. Now that we know each other a little bit I will often say hello to them first. Out of the whole cloud of kids I know these two by name and they know me by name. They feel comfortable coming up and talking. They are learning the skill of greeting others and a foundation is developing for talking later in their teen years.

Are you training your children to interact with adults? Appropriate to their age they can do it.

2. Talk up your friends to your children.
If we want some of our friends to be spiritual “aunts and uncles” to our children we also need to be careful how we talk about them. Little ears are always listening.

I once watched a husband and wife have an adult conversation about issues in their friends (Don’t we all have those flaws?). Rather than save that conversation for another time, they had it in front of their children.

Apart from whether it is appropriate to have the conversation at all, it certainly is not helpful with their children present. It robs them of the respect they should have for all adults.

As we seek to connect our children with others let’s be careful of how we speak of them. Instead, it is much better to actively praise our friends to our children.

The rest of my suggestions start on page 55 of The Disciple-Making Parent.

What would you add? Shoot me an email and let me know.

Want your children to love and follow Jesus Christ?

In today’s hostile world you need a strategy.

These resources will give you confidence.

Power of Example|

Raising an Alien Child – Jen Wilkin

The ERLC Parenting Conference was impressive in terms of organization and content.

Jen Wilkin’s talk – Raising an Alien Child – sticks out to me. When we met several years ago,I realized how similar our values were. Here is her outline and some quotations. So much practical wisdom here.

We are going to ask our children to think and live differently than the world in five different areas.

1. Activities – An alien child will spend his/her time differently than to other children. 10:00
The author of Deuteronomy assumed families would sit, walk, lie down, and rise up together.
A high school counselor said the most common reason he sees kids is depression and anxiety due to exhaustion and overscheduling.
Children that have family dinners four times a week are in a lower risk category for risky behaviors. Family dinner might be the most countercultural thing you do.
So be careful in the activities you sign up for and think about how they impact the family.

2. Speech – An alien child will not sound like other children. 19:40
The alien child will use kind words. Sarcasm is a form of verbal bullying. Sarcasm always has a victim. Someone is always paying the bill. We need to train in kind words. We want to set ourselves up as the experts. We train a child in the language of reconciliation.

3. Possessions – An alien child will not own what others own when they own it. 26:25
We teach delayed gratification because we are a people of delayed gratification. This is a basic skill of being a Christ-follower.

4. Entertainment – An alien child will not watch, read, or listen to what other children do. 32:45
We too often choose entertaining over training. Long car trips are not a time for everyone to zone out in their own world. Entertainment is also ceasing to be a shared value. We don’t just enjoy entertainment but we should enjoy enjoying the entertainment together.

5. Friends – An alien child will not invest in the same kinds of relationships. 37:00 No drama is allowed. Train children to be friends with each other. When it comes to sibling rivalry, you cannot neutralize it but you should not normalize it. We can raise them to be friends with each other.

And of course the only way to hope to raise an alien child is to be an alien parent.

Want your children to love and follow Jesus Christ?

In today’s hostile world you need a strategy.

These resources will give you confidence.