Category Archives: Family

Fathering

In my reading the other day I came across 1 Thessalonians 2:11–12:

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

Here Paul is communicating with the church in Thessalonikē. It was a new church he had recently founded and a church he found himself quickly detached from. Here he writes to exhort, encourage, and charge the church toward godliness in the same way a father would care for each of his particular children. This passage is deeply personal and affectionate.

Paul is not primarily seeking here to instruct fathers, yet it seems to me there are implications for those of us who are fathers. Note the three paralleled participles:

  • Exhorted (παρακαλοῦντες). Writes one commentator, “In some contexts the verb may signify ‘to console’ or ‘to comfort’ (1 Thess. 3.7; 4.18; 2 Thess. 2.17), but in the context of moral instruction, such as here in v. 12, it conveys the meaning of ‘to exhort’ or ‘to urge’ a person to follow a certain mode of conduct” (Green 135).
  • Encouraged (παραμυθούμενοι). Or to “comfort” (NIV84). The first two verbs overlap. “Both verbs indicate the act of encouraging or cheering someone. The first word more frequently than the second carries the connotation of exhortation, yet both are also used in contexts of admonition. The combination in Paul seems to indicate a positive encouragement to Christian living” (Martin 84).
  • Charged (μαρτυρόμενοι). This is the most authoritative of the three verbs and it means to “implore” (HCSB) or to “urge” (NIV84) a matter of great importance. Paul uses the same term in Ephesians 4:17, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.”

In this passing paternal metaphor Paul gives us a brief picture of godly fathering that is tender, personal, hopeful, encouraging, and yet firmly uncompromising.

Deadbolting the Idols Out

While intermarriage appears to have been tolerated early in Israel’s history (Abraham, Joseph, and Moses married foreign women, perhaps for political reasons), this later changed. In fact, intermarriage was especially forbidden when Israel was at its weakest, according to John Goldengay. “Ezra and Nehemiah assume that the little Second Temple community living among other peoples is too weak to risk the loss of its identity by absorption into the wider group through intermarriage” (OTT1:747–748). But the concern was larger than identity, and it’s not hard to imagine why. A foreign wife carried her foreign-deity-baggage into a marriage, and likewise, a foreign husband carried his foreign-deity-baggage into a marriage. The addition of these deities into an Israelite home invariably shaped the spiritual devotion and worship practices of a family, making any wholehearted worship of the living God impossible (see 1 Kings 11:1–13). Goldengay takes this one step further by suggesting that Israelites may have been tempted to intermarry to secure divine insurance, a way to broaden one’s base of collected gods to better ensure personal blessing, peace, and financial prosperity. Whatever the motive, intermarriage with a non-believer, he writes, “compromises the principle that Yhwh alone is the one from whom the community must seek help and guidance for its life concerning matters of a moral and religious kind and concerning the future” (Ex. 34:12-16, Deut. 7:1-4, Ps. 106:34–36). Thus, the forbidding of intermarriage in Old Testament history was not a matter of racial preference, a point made especially clear with the Moabite people. It was faithless Moabite women who led Solomon’s heart astray and it was the faithful God-fearing woman named Ruth, also a Moabite, who became the great-grandmother of King David, thus finding herself in the lineage of the Savior. The bottom line: intermarriage was forbidden to preserve undistracted devotion to Yhwh. John Piper summarizes the point well: “The issue is not color mixing, or customs mixing, or clan identity. The issue is: will there be one common allegiance to the true God in this marriage or will there be divided affections?” God wants our homes to be places of guarded worship for Himself alone. There’s application in there for us all.

Grave Digger

You may remember that my kids are rednecks who love monster trucks. Well, one of the discoveries that awaited us as we traveled through North Carolina was the home of monster truck Grave Digger in the town of Kill Devil Hills—a fittingly named hometown for a fierce monster truck. Outside on the property four old models of the monster truck were spread out (the Grave Digger legacy is now 22 models deep). The public was invited into the workshop and the gift shop. While we were there I grabbed this picture of the kids:

And here is video of a run by GD in the 2007 freestyle competition in Atlanta. Having watched this 20 or more times I think this is the family favorite YouTube clip:

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