We really should think of God as Father

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The other day, I was asked about what faith in Christ has really given me—specifically in terms of a sense of fulfillment, or completeness. What has believing in Jesus changed in me. I thought about this for a moment, and gave my answer: God.

As a non-Christian, I didn’t really recognize any sort of need or emptiness that I might have had, spiritually speaking. I was probably too hardhearted for that. But after coming to Christ, I came to realize how much I had to be thankful for. And not just that I was being saved from judgment and hell, but what I was being saved into—a family. Christ’s family. A family I could not be a part of on my own. And I get to call God my Father. I get to spend eternity with him. And that is a wonderful, glorious gift.

This is something that I have on occasion taken for granted. But I shouldn’t. My adoption into the family of Christ, to be able to call God my Father, was incredibly costly. It is a “sonship” that comes not by my merit or my birthright. It is a gift—a “sonship”, an adoption that comes by promise. I love how Charles Spurgeon explained it in a sermon on Galatians 4:6:

We have a sonship which does not come to us by nature, for we are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Our sonship comes by promise, by the operation of God as a special gift to a peculiar seed, set apart unto the Lord by his own sovereign grace, as Isaac was. This honour and privilege come to us, according to the connection of our text, by faith. Note well the twenty-sixth verse of the preceding chapter (Gal. 3:26): “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

As unbelievers we know nothing of adoption. While we are under the law as self-righteous we know something of servitude, but we know nothing of sonship. It is only after that faith has come that we cease to be under the schoolmaster, and rise out of our minority to take the privileges of the sons of God.[1. Adapted from “Adoption—The Spirit and the Cry,” as published in The Sermons of Charles Spurgeon: Sermons 1-200 (Vol 1 of 4)]

As believers, we have been all made sons and daughters of God. And our Father is a good father—the best father. But there’s something in a great many of us that gets nervous about calling him our Father. But we can’t do that. He is our Lord, yes, and should be addressed as such. He is our God, yes, and should be addressed as such. But he is also our Father. Because of Christ, we are his children, and with us, he is well pleased as we become more like Jesus. And he delights in us addressing him as such. So do not hesitate to do it.

7 books Christians should read on abortion and adoption

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One of the most frequent charges laid against Christians who oppose abortion is that we care about a child’s life before they’re born and once they die, but don’t really give a rip about anything in between. This, of course, is absolute bunk, especially when you consider the number of Christians who are passionate adoption advocates, who are assisting those in need through organizations like Compassion International.

But even though the charge is bunk, it persists. And Christians would do well to educate themselves about the realities of abortion and its alternatives. Here are a few books I’d recommend to help in this area:


Innocent Blood by John Ensor

Here’s what I wrote about this book in my review from 2011:

Innocent Blood is perhaps the most personally convicting and challenging book I’ve read—so much so that I’m still wrestling with what needs to change, of what I need to repent and how to move forward. You will not enjoy reading this book, but you would do well to do so.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon | Cruciform Press (download half the book)


The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf

The Case for Life provides intellectual grounding for the pro-life convictions that most evangelicals hold. Author Scott Klusendorf first simplifies the debate: the sanctity of life is not a morally complex issue. It’s not about choice, privacy, or scientific progress. To the contrary, the debate turns on one key question: What is the unborn? From there readers learn how to engage the great bio-tech debate of the twenty-first century, how to answer objections persuasively, and what the role of the pro-life pastor should be.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon


Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue by R.C. Sproul

In this book, Dr. R.C. Sproul employs his unique perspective as a highly experienced pastor-theologian and a trained philosopher to provide well-considered and compassionate answers to the difficult questions that attend termination of pregnancy.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon


Adopted for Life by Russell Moore

The doctrine of adoption—God’s decision to adopt sinful men and women into his family—stands at the heart of Christianity. In light of this, Christians’ efforts to adopt beautifully illustrate the truth of the gospel. In this popular-level and practical manifesto, Russell Moore encourages Christians to adopt children and to help other Christian families to do the same. He shows that adoption is not just about couples who have struggled to have children. Rather, it’s about an entire culture within evangelicalism—a culture that sees adoption as part of the Great Commission mandate and as a sign of the gospel itself.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon


Reclaiming Adoption by Dan Cruver

Here’s what I wrote about it in my review:

Reclaiming Adoption packs a convicting punch. As Cruver unpacks the importance of the doctrine of adoption over his four chapters, he shows readers just how much it impacts everything. To understand the love of God for His people—those He chose to adopt before He even created the universe—completely transforms how we think, live, feel and act.

Buy it at: Westminster Bookstore | Amazon


Orphanology by Tony Merida and Rick Morton

Orphanology unveils the grassroots movement that’s engaged in a comprehensive response to serve hundreds of millions of orphans and “functionally parentless” children.

You’ll see a breadth of ways to care with biblical perspective and reasons why we must. Heartwarming, personal stories and vivid illustrations from a growing network of families, churches, and organizations that cross culture show how to respond to God’s mandate. The book empowers:

  • churches—to plan preaching, teaching, ministering, missions, funding adoption, supporting orphans;
  • individuals and families—to overcome challenges and uncertainties;
  • every believer—to gain insights to help orphans in numerous ways.

Buy it at: Amazon


After They Are Yours by Brian Borgman

Christians considering adoption should also be aware that not everything is smiles and sunshine.

After They Are Yours: The Grace and Grit of Adoption talks transparently and redemptively about the often unspoken problems adoptive parents face. Combining personal experience, biblical wisdom,  and a heart for people, Borgman recalls the humbling and difficult lessons God has taught him and his wife. This is not a success story, rather it’s a story of struggles and failures set in the broader context of a God who is gracious and continually teaches us the meaning of adoption.

Buy it at: Amazon

All Who He Has Saved Are His Brothers

The second connection in which the New Testament speaks of God as Father has to do wiht the believing sinner’s adoption into the life of God’s family. This is a supernatural gift of grace, linked with justification and new birth, given freely by God and received humbly by faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. “To all who received him [Jesus], who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born . . . of God . . .” (John 1:12ff). The message Jesus sent to his disciples on rising from the dead was: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). As disciples, they belonged to the family; indeed, in that very sentence Jesus called them “my brethren.” All whom he has saved are his brothers.

When the Christian says the first clause of the [Apostles’] Creed, he will put all this together and confess his Creator as both the Father of his Savior and his own Father through Christ—a Father who now loves him no less than he loves his only begotten Son. That is a marvelous confession to be able to make.

J.I. Packer, Growing in Christ, p. 29

Book Review: Reclaiming Adoption by Dan Cruver

What comes to mind when you hear the word “adoption”?

If you’re like me, your mind first goes to adopting a child. Giving a safe home and a loving family is one of the greatest gifts that one can give to a child. Yet, if we read the Scriptures, it’s clear that this term “adoption” carries with it so much more than the (very important) gift of a family to an orphaned child.

That’s because adoption is not only horizontal, but also vertical. Interestingly, though, we’ve not spent a great deal of time articulating the theology behind it. Indeed, over the course of the first 1900 years of Christian history, there are “only six creeds that contain a section on theological adoption” (p. 8).

That’s what inspired Dan Cruver to write Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living through the Rediscovery of Abba Father. In this book, Cruver (along with contributors John Piper, Scotty Smith, Richard D. Phillips and Jason Kovacs) explains what it means to be adopted by God the Father, its implications for orphan care and how it transforms our witness in the world.

Reclaiming Adoption packs a convicting punch. As Cruver unpacks the importance of the doctrine of adoption over his four chapters, he shows readers just how much it impacts everything. To understand the love of God for His people—those He chose to adopt before He even created the universe—completely transforms how we think, live, feel and act. Cruver writes,

Christians who doubt God’s love for them will not mobilize for mission. Unless we know the Father delights in us even as he delights in Jesus, we will lack the emotional capital necessary to resist complacency and actively engage in missional living. The only people who can truly turn their eyes outward in mission are those who knowingly live within and enjoy the loving gaze of their heavenly Father. . . . If we are not confident of his love, our eyes will turn inward, and our primary concerns will be our needs, our lack, our disappointment, rather than the needs of those around us. (p. 18)

Cruver proceeds to illustrate this truth by showing how the doctrine of adoption is tied to the Trinity, the incarnation and our union with Christ. Read More about Book Review: Reclaiming Adoption by Dan Cruver

Book Review: Hello, I Love You by Ted Kluck

Ted Kluck, writer of things sports- and church-related, is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. In Why We’re Not Emergent and Why We Love the Church, he offers the “everyman” perspective on why the emergent church movement doesn’t work and why the visible church deeply matters to the life of believers. But in his latest book, Hello, I Love You, he tackles a topic that’s perhaps closer to his heart than any:

Adoption.

In the last couple of years, adoption has been the topic of conferences, sermons, blogs, books… you name it. It’s been top of mind for many Christians.

While the resources that have been produced are no doubt beneficial, this book is different.

That’s because in Hello, I Love You, Kluck takes readers on a deeply personal journey into what he experienced becoming an adoptive father.

And a lot of the time, it’s not pretty.

Love Letters

Written in two parts, the first is based on notes taken during the adoption of his first son, Tristan. Kluck shares (with often hilarious results) the events leading up to Tristan’s adoption.

One of my favorite moments, strangely, is the painfully accurate description of the Detroit airport. While the Northwest side looks more like a mall than an airport, Kluck writes,

[T]he non-renovated Delta terminal looks like the world’s largest Greyhound station—a dimly lit hole strewn with garbage and smelling faintly of a mixture of Cinnabons, grade-school, and industrial-grade cleaning agents. (p. 34-35)

(If you’ve ever been in this airport, you know how true this is.)

What struck me most profoundly though was how the first half frequently broke from the traditional narrative model and became letters written to Tristan, sharing the events of the day, thoughts on life, music, sports and faith.

In this half of the book what comes across most clearly is how much Kluck loves his son, who at the time wasn’t even his son yet. In one letter, he writes:

I can’t stop looking at your picture on the digital camera. I feel silly, but I keep saying “lemme see Tristan.” And then your mom and I pull out the camera (again) and flip through the pictures (again).

And we prayed for you tonight, Tristan. We prayed that our Lord would keep you safe from evil and prepare your little heart to be loved by us… (p. 53)

Reading this, it’s amazing to see the love that God creates in the hearts of parents for their children—even those who are not biologically their own. Truly, it is inspiring.

Griping, Grumbling & Genuine Authenticity

Part two chronicles the Klucks’ adoption of another boy, Dima. Written more as a journal during the events of the adoption, the feeling is quite different.

The tone changes. It’s still funny, but there’s something else there.

It’s a struggle with despair.

The Klucks’ second adoption didn’t come out of, necessarily, the same kind of desire that their first did—it came out of necessity. In the time between the two adoptions, they learned that they were unable to have biological children.

Kluck doesn’t portray himself as a great man of faith or even a particularly great husband. He’s often painfully honest about his shortcomings.

He struggles with feelings of resentment toward his church and its extremely fertile congregation (pp. 95-101).

With a sense of failure as a man and a provider (p. 161).

He becomes a grumbler, and his complaining alienates him from his wife and blinds him to God’s grace in his life.

Kluck isn’t playing humble here. He doesn’t look to anything outside of himself as the source of his problems—he acknowledges his own sins and strives to move forward in repentance.

As the story of Dima’s adoption unfolds, he displays genuine authenticity.

A Refreshing Reminder

Reading Hello, I Love You gave me, as a husband & father who hopes to one day adopt, a refreshing reminder. Kluck’s honesty about the struggles he and his family faced during the process, to say nothing of the astronomical financial cost hit hard; but with every word of this book, he tells us, “It was worth it.”

It’s a reminder to me that every sacrifice I make for my daughters is worth it. And it’s a reminder that for Jesus, who paid the ultimate price for sinners like me to be adopted into God’s family—from His perspective, it was worth it. Not because I deserve it, but because He is so gracious.


Title: Hello, I Love You: Adventures in Adoptive Fatherhood
Author: Ted Kluck
Publisher: Moody (2010)

A galley copy of this book was provided for review by the publisher