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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - May 21, 2007

  • 2007 May 21
  • COMMENTS
 

JOY OF A WORD FILLED FAMILY SERIES

 

 

 

Joseph a Model Dad

 

The key to Joseph's parenting was that he led his family to worship God. It was nothing spectacular; nothing superhuman; just regular and consistent. But the results were extraordinary. A modern illustration of this type of consistency can be found in the upbringing of John Paton[1].

John Paton was a Scottish missionary to the New Hebrides, islands that are today called Vanuatu, located one thousand miles north of New Zealand and four hundred miles west of Fiji.  Paton arrived November 4, 1858, on the island of Tanna at the age of thirty-four, with his wife, Mary Ann.  A son was born February 12, 1859.  "Our island exile filled with joy," Paton wrote in his autobiography[2] (page 79), but  "the greatest of sorrows was treading hard upon the heels of that joy!"  First came the fever, then diarrhea, then pneumonia and delirium.  On March 3 Mary died.  "To crown my sorrows, and complete my loneliness, the dear baby boy, whom we had named after her father, Peter Robert Robson, was taken from me after one week's sickness on the 20th of March (page 79).

Paton buried both of them with his own hands and "with ceaseless prayers and tears…claimed that land for God."  He confessed, "But for Jesus, and the fellowship He vouchsafed me there, I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave! (page 80). 

What kind of father prepared John G. Paton for that kind of perseverance -- another fifty years of rugged, faithful missionary labor?

Paton's father, James, was converted at seventeen and immediately convinced his mother and father that the family should have morning and evening prayer together.  Paton writes about his father:

"And so began in his seventeenth year that blessed custom of Family Prayer, morning and evening which my father practiced probably without one single avoidable omission till he lay on his deathbed at seventy-seven years of age…None of us can remember that any day ever passed unhallowed thus; no hurry for market, no rush to business, no arrival of friends or guests, no trouble or sorrow, no joy or excitement, ever prevented at least our kneeling around the family altar, while the High Priest led our prayers to God, and offered himself and his children there. (page 14)"

The place of the Lord's Day was just as crucial in shaping the children in their relation to God and the joy of his fellowship.  Paton writes:

"Our place of worship was the Reformed Presbyterian Church at Dumfries…four miles from our Torthorwald home; but the tradition is that during all these forty years my father was only three times prevented from attending the worship of God…Each of us, from very early days considered it no penalty, but a great joy, to go with our father to the church; the four miles were a treat to our young spirits, the company by the way was a fresh incitement… A few other pious men and women, of the best Evangelical type, went from the same parish…and when these God-fearing peasants 'foregathered' on the way to or from the House of God, we youngsters had sometimes rare glimpses of what Christian talk may be and ought to be.  They went to church, full of beautiful expectancy of spirit -- their souls were on the outlook for God, and they returned from church, ready and even anxious to exchange ideas as to what they had heard and received of the things of life." (pages 15-16)

"There were eleven of us brought up in a home like that; and never one of the eleven, boy or girl, man or woman, has been heard, or ever will be heard, saying that Sabbath was dull or wearisome for us. " (page 17)

Such was the father and the family that fit John G. Paton to suffer, to survive, and rejoice in the glorious work of the gospel among the cannibalistic tribes of the New Hebrides.

So I ask you, and myself

(1)   Dad, Is your family altar established?  Is there a place and a time for family focus on the Word and prayer that takes priority over less important things?  Do you lead it when ever possible?

(2)   Dads, do you come to corporate worship here at our fellowship with a beautiful expectancy of spirit on the lookout for God?

A great secret of rearing children who endure for fifty years in the New Hebrides is to be a disciplined, Bible-saturated, worshiping, and joyful dad.

Is that true? Listen to the world, they have taken note of it. Marion Levy in her societal critique has written,

“for the first time in the history of humankind the overwhelming majority of little boys and little girls continued under the direct domination and supervision of ladies until they reached maturity. This has never happened before in history. Crusades, wars, migrations, pestilence - nothing for a people as a whole ever before took so large a percentage of young adult and older adult males out of the family context for so much of the waking time of the children. Most of us have not even noticed the change, nor do we have any idea of its radicality.”[3]

How bad is it? U.S. News and World Report states these facts: 1 in 4 children born have no father to welcome them at birth. Only 40% of children grow up in 2 parent families. A million children each year go through divorce, 9 out of 10 will stay with their mothers.  And when he is present a normal dad gives his children only 3 minutes of time to them with his undivided attention!

GODLY DADS:

1.              know their job is important but their home is essential

2.              express deep love for their wives but always save some for their children

3.              pay attention and respond to their children but even more to God

  • Often bouquets are thrown to moms on Mother’s Day and dads get a shot between the eyes on Fathers Day. Amazingly every one of the 27 references to fathers in Proverbs is POSITIVE! And, when we get to the New Testament the pattern continues. A model dad is Joseph. Everything we see him do is right on.

·         If you are a dad, follow his lead.

·         If you want to be a dad, listen up and learn.

·         If your children are grown, listen and share. Let’s all commit to be fathers of the Word 

Joseph

1.   Godly dads like Joseph are full of compassion. Matthew 1:19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just [man,] and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. (NKJV) he planned to put away Mary privately

2.   Godly dads like Joseph listen to God Matthew 1:20-24 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us." 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, (NKJV)

3.   Godly dads like Joseph stay in touch with God Matthew  2:13-19     Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son."16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: 18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping [for] her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more." 19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, (NKJV)

4.   Godly dads like Joseph demonstrate love to their families. Matthew  2:13-16     Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him." 14 When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son." 16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. (NKJV) Joseph was a leader in Caring. He was a protector of his family: he made decisions for the future of his family going to Egypt.

5.   Godly dads like Joseph work hard to provide for their families. Matthew  2: 19 After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt 20 and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead." 21 So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, 23 and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." (NIV)  Joseph was a leader in God's order for the home. He was a provider: he went to Nazareth and worked.  Proverbs 19:14 Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD. (NIV); Proverbs 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance for his children's children, but a sinner's wealth is stored up for the righteous. (NIV)

6.   Godly dads like Joseph give their children lessons in living. Mark 6:3 "Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" And they were offended at Him. (NKJV). He was a modeler: Taught Jesus his trade and that took time side by side Mowing, driving, care for the car, finances, etc. Men just put some time in them each week.

7.   Godly dads like Joseph follow God's Word for raising children. Luke 2:27-33 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: 29 "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, According to Your word; 30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation 31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, 32 A light to [bring] revelation to the Gentiles, And the glory of Your people Israel." 33 And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. (NKJV)

8.   Godly dads like Joseph  lead their family in worship. Luke 2:41  His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. (NKJV)

·         He was a worshiper, he took them to the feast Joseph was a leader in godliness.

·         He was a Maintainer: Pr. 22.28 keep family boundaries

9.    Godly dads like Joseph see children as the Lord does!  Mark 6:3 "Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" And they were offended at Him. (NKJV)

·         Joseph had 7 children, he loved his wife and family and paid the price for them! Children are an eternal blessing. Children are gifts from the Lord. Children are a reward from the Lord. Psalm 127: 3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate. (NIV)

WHY IS HAVING CHILDREN SO VALUABLE TO A GODLY DAD?

·         Children teach dads to sacrifice: Having children limits: toys (boats, off road vehicles, fancy cars, exotic vacations, excessive sports, discretionary spending), time, flexibility, mobility. . . it diminishes financial savings, it takes a great deal of emotional and spiritual energy. But it is one of the only investments you can enjoy both here and in heaven. It provides one of the only investments that will honor you here and in heaven.

·         Children multiply blessings: Children are a direct physical, visible, tangible blessing from the Lord. Children are unique because they are your very own plus they are brothers and sisters in Christ plus best friends for life. Nothing is more precious as the years pass than to see your children following Christ. Nothing is more heart renching than to not see them follow Him. In the world today there is a myth that children are expensive. The truth is they are rich and precious treasures sent from God Himself. Happy is anyone who has many!

·         Children keep us alert to danger: In an age characterized by 2 Timothy 3:2-4 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- (NIV)

THE POWER OF THE FATHER IN PAUL'S DAY

In Paul's day, certain attitudes existed that made life perilous for children.  One of these was a Roman law called the patria potestas, which literally meant "the father's power."  This particular law allowed the father to have absolute power over every single member of his family.  For example, he could sell them all as slaves; he could make them work in his fields in chains; and he could even take the law into his own hands and punish any member of his family as severely as he wanted, even to the point of inflicting the death penalty.  And he had that power as long as he lived.  When a child was born, for example, the child was taken and placed between the feet of the father.  If the father reached down and picked up the child, the child stayed in the home.  But, if the father turned and walked away, the child was literally thrown away.

A letter of 1 B.C. from a man named Hilarion to his wife, Alis, gives us some insight into how children were viewed.  It says, "Hlarion to Alis his wife, heartiest greetings.  Know that we are still, even now, in Alexandria.  Do not worry if when all others return, I remain in Alexandria.  I beg and beseech you to take care of the little child, and as soon as we receive wages, I send them to you.  If---good luck to you---you have another child, if it is a boy, let it live; if it is a girl, expose it" (Papyri Oxyrhynchus IV, 744).

Seneca, a philosopher during the Roman Empire, said, "We slaughter a fierce ox, we strangle a mad dog, we plunge a knife into a sick cow, and children who are born weakly and deformed, we drown."

When children were thrown out by their parents, they would often be taken, if they were still alive, and left in the forum.  People would then come by at night and collect the boys to nourish them and make them slaves, and the girls to raise as prostitutes.

So, Paul was speaking to a world where the children were severely abused.  The parent-child relationship was a sick as it is in our society--and by the way, no worse!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

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