Links I like

Bad Reasons to Switch to Expository Preaching

Eric McKiddie:

It’s never good to do the right thing for the wrong reason. This is because your heart is with the wrong reason, not the right thing to do. And as soon as the right thing to do no longer gets you the results you wrongly desire, you’ll ditch doing that right thing and either do a different right thing or a wrong thing.

This rule applies to expositional preaching: you must not take it up for the wrong reasons. I wouldn’t say that there has been a revival of preaching in our country (I hear of too many people looking for churches without an expository preacher within 45 minutes), it is gaining momentum. But in order for that momentum to be sustainable, pastors need to commit to it for the right reasons.

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Four volumes from Crossway’s A Student’s Guide series are 99¢:

Also on sale:

Misconceptions about adoption

This is a really good two-part series on some of the misconceptions people have about the adoption process (here’s part two).

When Suits Become a Stumbling Block

Good satire is hard to come by, but when I find it, I’m always glad to share it:

There has been a lot of talking, debating, and hand-wringing among Christian bloggers lately about modesty; particularly yoga pants, making men uncomfortable by being attractive, and in general, ways in which to combat everyone’s favorite “evil”: lust.

Well, I’d like to hop on the modesty bandwagon and discuss something that I have personally struggled with for many, many years.

[deep breath]

Specifically, men in suits.

Want to get an education? Work at Starbucks.

This is a great example of a company investing in its employees.

Called to be uncool

ND Wilson nails it:

The power of the zeitgeist helped propel the agonies of race-based slavery, and the zeitgeist threw it away in a bloodbath. The zeitgeist gave us institutional racism, and when enough shame had been applied, the zeitgeist (at least officially) struck it down. The zeitgeist set the Medes and the Persians praying to Darius, and threw Daniel in the lions’ den (Dan. 6). The zeitgeist can kick up the fervor of ungodly war, and it can hang its head in cowardice when a true challenge comes.

The zeitgeist is a fickle master, because the zeitgeist is us.

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...]

Around the Interweb (10/17)

A God Story

From Together for Adoption:

Mark and Kristen Howerton tell their family’s stories of adoption. While in the process of adopting from Haiti, Kristen was in Haiti visiting their son when the earthquake hit. Their story is a God story. Let it be an encouragement to you that although we most often do not see God at work in our stories, He most certainly is.

HT: Challies

In Other News

Language: The origins of common English expressions

Spiritual Growth: Dealing with Unanswered Prayers

In Case You Missed It

Here are a few of this week’s notable posts:

A review of Shannon O’Dell’s new book, Transforming Church in Rural America

Sermon audio from last week’s message, Bold Intercession

On parachutes and pineapples

Spurgeon on the wheat and the tares

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

147 Million

147-million

On Monday night, Russell Moore posted the following on Twitter:

147 million orphans are out there tonight. 147 million.
Where are you?

It’s a provocative challenge, isn’t it? 147 million children without a mom and dad.

I think about my two year old girl sleeping in the other room, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like for her to not have her parents, and it breaks my heart to even try.

Something Emily and I decided to do a few years ago was adopt; after we saw how the foster system affected our extended family, we knew it was something we wanted to do. And after we became Christians, that desire as we read and began to understand passages like James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” For us, it was really encouraging to see throughout Scripture how God shows how much He cares for those who desperately need it. And so we want to do the same.

Now, here’s what I’m not doing: I’m not pointing my finger at anyone and saying “You’re not doing enough!”

I’m also not saying that everyone who is a Christian should adopt. But, maybe some of us should.

Maybe we need to open our homes to children living in the foster system and be a family—even for a few weeks—to a boy or girl who needs one.

Maybe we need to sponsor a child with Compassion, and provide an opportunity to have his or her life transformed by the gospel, as the church proclaims it in word and deed.

Maybe we need to volunteer with an after-school program in our community and be a positive voice in a child’s life.

There are so many things we can do. And there are a lot of who are doing these things, to the glory of God. In an act of obedience, an act of worship, they’re reaching out to care for those who are in need. Regardless of our feelings on social justice, it is a fruit of the gospel. It is a part of living out our faith. A part we’d all be wise not to ignore.

“[B]e doers of the word, and not hearers only,” James tells us.

How will we respond today?