What Is Happening in Your Daughter’s Life?

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What is happening in your daughter’s life? I think this is a particularly good question for fathers. Stop and think about that question for a moment. How would you answer? Do you feel like you know? Now think of all the texts, video chats, social media, and hours spent with friends. Are you sure you know?

This is a good question for both fathers and mothers, for both sons and daughters. But I’d like to focus on fathers and daughters. The father-daughter relationship is the context of a great Bible story that provides a wonderful lesson for dads.

In the book of Esther, we learn that as a child Esther lost both her mother and father. Mordecai (who was her cousin) adopted her as his own daughter and raised her. The nature of this father-daughter relationship manifests itself as Esther becomes a young adult and is taken by the King to be considered as a wife.

And every day
Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem
to learn how Esther was
and what was happening to her.
Esther 2:11

I doubt Mordecai’s interest and involvement in Esther life was a new development. This was his fatherly way. Every day. What a wonderful example for us as dads. Express daily interest and involvement in your daughter’s life. Find out what she is thinking and feeling. Ask about what she loves and about her conversations. Inquire about her relationship with God.

Another aspect of the relationship of Mordecai and Esther is that

Esther obeyed Mordecai
just as when she was brought up by him.
Esther 2:20

Again, Mordecai’s influence in Esther’s life, and her response to him, was not a new development. This was the nature of their relationship. The story does not make a direct connection between the ongoing influential role of a father in a daughter’s life and his ongoing interest and involvement in her life. But it sure does make sense.

It is certainly possible for a daughter in faith to follow the leadership of her father, no matter what her relationship to him is. But it is a natural outflow of the relational investment that has been made when the father has chosen to be interested and involved in her life. He has her heart. He has earned her trust.

I am not sharing this lesson with you because I have done such a great job with my own family. In fact, I can see ways that I have failed to be interested and involved in my daughters’ lives. But I certainly plan to follow the example of Mordecai’s fatherly ways. I want to connect daily with my daughters, discovering how they are and what is happening in their lives. And I pray that they will receive godly, fatherly guidance as they grow into young ladies.

How to Read More Books This Year

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I am currently reading Michael Hyatt’s new book Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals. I love this book and look forward to telling you more about it later.
 
In chapter 13, Hyatt describes how to plan out specific steps to accomplish your goals. He encourages his readers to seek outside help when figuring out how to accomplish their goals. He writes, “The good news is, for almost every goal we want to accomplish, someone else knows how to get there.” 

So, when I began to write out goals for reading books, I decided to look up some articles about setting book reading goals. I found this article by Joel Miller, 10 Rules to Read More Books This Year.  This is definitely worth a read if you’d like some encouragement on how to read more books this year. Here are my favorite tips:

  1. Keep track of the books you read. I have not done this consistently, but when I do, I have used the Goodreads mobile app and website.  
  2. Follow your whims. Miller suggests that we should read what we want. Don’t keep trudging through something that is boring or unhelpful. This leads into the next tip. 
  3.  Quit at any time. I also learned this principle from Mortimer Adler in How to Read a Book. There are simply too many great books to read to waste time on mediocre books. 
  4. Vary genres. And I will add, vary topics. This keeps things interesting. This also fits into the next tip. 
  5. Read several books at once. This way you can read whatever suites you or fits into the time you have.  

I hope you find these tips inspiring. Check out the article as well. OK, time to go read a book! 

Is It Our Job to Purify Our Souls?

In 1 Peter 1:22, Peter writes,

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love,
love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”

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Today I have been focused on the phrase “having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth.” Bible scholars disagree on what this means. Some believe this “obedience to the truth” refers to faith in the Gospel and thus the purification of one’s soul refers to justification and salvation. Others understand the purification to refer to the removal of sin from the inner man as a result of obedience. Which one does Peter mean and why does it matter?

First, it is important to point out that both of these possible meanings are generally biblical. In other words, we know that God purifies our souls based on our faith in the Gospel (1 Cor 6:11 - just as we are sanctified and justified). We also know that as Christians we should choose to purify our bodies and souls by removing sin from our lives (2 Cor 7:1).

So which meaning does Peter intend in 1 Peter 1:22? Here are the reasons that I believe Peter is talking about the removal of sin from the Christian’s life.

  • This seems to me to be the most natural and straightforward reading.
  • The only other two appearances of the word translated “purified” (hegnikotes) in the NT (James 4:8; 1 John 3:3) definitely refer to the cleansing of a Christian’s life from sin.
  • Here the purification is done by the Christian, not by God. Generally, if not exclusively, the cleansing of a person at salvation is described as something that God does.
  • While it is possible to refer to faith in the gospel as “the obedience of faith” (Rom 1:5; 15:18), the normal use of “obedience” in the NT refers to holy living.
  • The main idea of the preceding section of Scripture (1 Peter 1:13-20) is a call to live a holy life.
  • The imperative of this verse is to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” Just as believers are responsible for loving “earnestly,” they are also responsible for loving “from a pure heart.” This is not referring to justification, but to their choice to be holy in their hearts.
  • The next section, 1 Peter 2:1-3, explain the application of this verse: “So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.” These, of course, are issues of holiness in the inner man that would be the basis for loving from a pure heart.

In view of 1 Peter 2:1-3, we are able to discover the importance of inner holiness for loving others. The sins of our heart (or soul/inner man) are what hinders us from loving others. As Peter mentions, these include malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. When we are struggling to love others like God has called us to, then an important step to take, as Peter teaches here, is to remove the sin from our inner selves (purify our souls) in obedience to the truth. Then we are in a great position to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart”!

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[Added on April 14, 2018]

A friend asked me if the past tense of "purified" doesn't support the interpretation that the phrase "having purified your souls" refers to conversion.

This past tense is a perfect, which conveys the idea of a completed act that has ongoing results. Here is how a perfect tense fits into my suggested interpretation that the purification of our souls by obedience to the truth means that we are responsible for removing sin from our lives.

  • Even though this is something that we may do on an ongoing basis in our Christian life, that is not to say that a Christian cannot remove all known sin from their lives at any given point in time. For example, in James 4:8 Christians are commanded to purify their hearts. I think we should assume that this is possible to do (complete), not just something you are always doing.

  • This does not necessarily mean that a Christian who purifies their heart is therefore free from all sin. This is because there may be sin in his life that he is not yet aware of. God is gentle and faithful to give us what we can deal with. We can have a pure heart to the extent that we have confessed and repented of all known sin of the inner man.

  • A good example of a similar use of a past tense is Ephesians 4:25: “Therefore, having put away (aorist participle) falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor.” This doesn’t mean it may not have to be done again. It just indicates that something has to be and can be done in order to accomplish something else.

It's Not Bad to Be a Burden

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I just read a powerful article by Joni Eareckson Tada for pastors titled When a Member of Your Church Dying. It goes well beyond dealing with a dying church member and is not just for pastors. It is about how Christians can think biblically about suffering, end of life decisions, ministering to those who are suffering, and the importance of the family and church. I highly recommend it. Here is a portion of it about the role of family.

Families are not technical, mechanistic social contracts that we make with one another. Family members all have a moral responsibility toward one another. That’s what defines a family.

It might be a good thing to be a burden to your family. Think about it: Everybody else might reject you, but your family has to take you in. Family members are supposed to be a burden to each other, a way for other members of the family to learn self-sacrifice.

My grandmother was 81 years old when she came to live with my family. My mother and father expected me to stay home on a couple of Friday nights and be with my grandma and do laundry. I remember hating it at first, resenting the fact that Grandma’s presence in our home had made my life more challenging. But when I look back, I’m so glad my grandmother came to live with us. It taught my sisters and me self-sacrifice, compassion, and what it means to go the extra mile for someone you love. We learned that normal Christian service is extraordinarily sacrificial.

I don’t think we would have learned any of these things as young people had it not been for my grandmother coming to live with us. I desperately hope my grandmother didn’t pick up on my vibes as a kid, but that experience taught me what a family is supposed to look like. We’re supposed to be burdens on one another.
— Joni Eareckson Tada