Together for Adoption | Sessions 1 and 2

I’ve been thoroughly blessed thus far by the Together for Adoption 2009 Conference.  Below are a few highlights:

Session 1 – Dan Cruver

Dan preached from James 1:27-28, arguing that there are three facets to “pure and undefiled religion”, namely controlling the tongue, visiting orphans and widows, and keeping unstained from the world.  His basic argument was that focusing on one of the three at the expense of the other two does damage to all three and in effect creates something other than the pure and undefiled religion that James speaks of.

The hope that we have comes solely from the gospel, and when we look at the gospel, we have true religion:

  • The gospel bridles the tongue because it is good news for us
  • The gospel allows us to visit the orphan because we were visited by Jesus in our orphaned state
  • The gospel keeps us unstained from the world by freeing us from our righteous deeds AND sinful rebellion

In summary, Dan did a fantastic job of highlighting the essence of the gospel and the centrality of Jesus in orphan care.  I’m grateful for the call to focus on Christ!

Session 2 – Scotty Smith

Scotty’s talk had a great outline in three parts:

The Freedom of Legal Rights – adoption secures us in a state of objective blessings

This portion of the talk focused on our theological identity as the children of God, legally adopted into His family.  One of his best points was understanding that our legal identity is NOT a metaphor, rather an actual reality of our identity.  Additionally, he focused heavily on the idea that as legally adopted sons, we are no longer subject to God as sons, and yet the default mode of the human heart is to behave as a subject of judgment rather than son.  Great stuff to ponder!

The Freedom of Personal Delights – adoption calls us into a realm of subjective wonder

This section of his talk focused primarily on the idea that theological understanding alone is an insufficient view, because the theological perspective on our adoption necessarily leads to enjoyment of God and wonder at his grace.  This also empowers us to stop behaving as orphans, who often pine after the life of abandonment in spite of the current existing reality of our inheritance as sons.  One of the great quotes came from this section:

The quintessential action of the sinful human heart is to act as an orphan.

We act this way either through a rejection of our Fatherly love by returning to squalor, or by vigilantly pursuing the love of the Father through our own action.  Again, some great imagery that caused me to reflect on my own life.

The Freedom of a Missional Life – adoption propels us into the world with sacrificial hope

Finally, he focused on the idea that as sons, we have hope that God will indeed bring to fruition a new heaven and new earth, and it is purely our pleasure to participate in that work.  The work of the gospel in adoption is not a job to get done, but a privilege to be entered into.

Scotty did an excellent job of focusing on the full implications of a theological understanding of adoption, and I am blessed to have been able to listen to him!

I am excited for tomorrow to say the least…already tons of great stuff!  Check out Take Your Vitamin Z for live blogging, and go here for all the Twitter chatter.


Together for Adoption Conference

I’m headed out tomorrow to make the trek to Franklin, TN for the Together for Adoption conference.  I’m really looking forward to spending time with some of our TASCC staff processing through God’s movement in our hearts for adoption, as well as connecting with some new friends in the adoption world.

Please keep us in prayer, and you can see what we are hearing at the schedule below:


Launching a Church Adoption Fund Webinar | ABBA Fund Blog

My friend Jason Kovacs from The Abba Fund is doing a webinar on setting up an adoption fund at your church (something we have done recently at The Austin Stone).  ThE webinar will provide an overview of how to establish a simple yet effective church adoption assistance fund.

The webinar is happening September 15th, 2009, 1pm EST.

To register please email

(from Launching a Church Adoption Fund Webinar).

adoption books

Book Review | Adopted for Life

The third book I had the opportunity to read through was Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches by Russell Moore.

As a short synopsis, Moore paints the theological foundations of adoption in the first portion of the book, asking the church and Christians to consider our calling to serve and minister to orphans.  The latter half of the book focuses on specifics of adoption, including the challenges of the adoption process and engaging the church after you have adopted.  He uses his personal testimony of adopting two boys from Russia as the narrative thread of the book, providing personal insight into a variety of topics.

In his own words, Moore aims to:

In this book I want to call us all to consider how encouraging adoption–whether we adopt or whether we help others adopt–can help us peer into the ancient mystery of our faith in Christ and can help us restore the fracturing unity and the atrophied mission of our congregation.

Below is the table of contents:

  1. Adoption, Jesus, and You: Why You Should Read This Book, Especially If You Don’t Want to
  2. Are They Brothers? What Some Rude Questions about Adoption Taught Me about the Gospel of Christ
  3. Joseph of Nazareth vs. Planned Parenthood: What’s at Stake When We Talk about Adoption
  4. Don’t You Want Your Own Kids? How to Know If You—or Someone You Love—Should Consider Adoption
  5. Paperwork, Finances, and Other Threats to Personal Sanctification: How to Navigate the Practical Aspects of the Adoption Process
  6. Jim Crow in the Church Nursery: How to Think about Racial Identity, Health Concerns, and Other Uncomfortable Adoption Questions
  7. It Takes a Village to Adopt a Child: How Churches Can Encourage Adoption
  8. Adopted Is a Past-Tense Verb: How Parents, Children, and Friends Can Think about Growing up Adopted
  9. Concluding Thoughts

This book is a worthwhile read for anyone, regardless of your interest in adoption.  It contains a great deal of material associated with the adoption process, and certainly some practical insight into the realities of adoption, but the book goes so much beyond the mechanics of adoption.  Through his excellent presentation of the nature of the family of God, to examining particular individuals in Scripture, Moore did an excellent job of articulating the character of God and the heart of the Gospel through the lens of adoption.  You will be blessed theologically, should you pick up this book, as well as pastorally and practically blessed with respect to adoption.

One of the particularly poignant portions of the book for me was chapter 2: Are They Brothers?.  Moore does an excellent job of working through the issue of our identity as children of God, and the practical outflow for us as a body of Christ.  I loved his articulation that we as believers ought to view the Old Testament as OUR family history, not just a family history, as we are indeed the spiritual children of Abraham.  He also has an excellent section about our relationship to Christ as our brother, which began a series of excellent thoughts for me.  You can read the chapter here.

I thoroughly enjoyed Chapter 3, which is a biblical and historical understanding of how adoption is actually spiritual warfare and battling against the very heart of evil.  He does an excellent job of highlighting the major attacks on defenseless babies throughout the Bible (using the genocide of Pharoah in the time of Moses and the genocide of Herod in the time Jesus as primary examples) and history.  This chapter did more to elevate my view of the spiritual reality of adoption than the rest of the book combined.

The practical sections of the book are useful in that they are a good first-hand account of Moore’s adoption, but they deliberately do not provide much in the order of details for adoption.  If you are looking for a pragmatic book, I’d suggest going elsewhere.

I urge you to pick up this book and read, even if you have no interest in adoption, because you will absolutely be blessed by its depth, and convicted by the call of God to care for the orphan.

adoption college ministry

College Ministers and Adoption

As many of you have read, my wife and I have really been praying through adoption and how God would have us advocate for orphans in our city.  Connecting with another college minister (Michael Mears at FSU) via Twitter who was in the adoption process got me to thinking…

For many college students, there perspective of normal family life is driven by the foundation laid by their parents primarily, but secondarily by the relationships they see closest to the time when marriage and family becomes a reality.

There is enormous potential for college ministries to create a culture of adoption which shifts the coming generation’s perspective of “normal family planning”.

Reflecting on my own journey, I didn’t really consider adoption honestly because I had never really thought about it.  I had no real example of adoption as a tangible display of the gospel, and at best in my mind it was an alternative for people who could not conceive naturally.  I’m wondering if I had encountered it in college, when the idea of family became somewhat of a reality in the not-too-distant future, if I might have considered a different path for our family (sovereignty of God issues aside…).

All this to say that people ministering to college students have an enormous potential to create a gospel culture in an emerging generation preparing to have families, and I hope and pray that God would use men like Michael to cultivate a heart for the orphan amongst students.

Pray with me that God would breath a spirit of adoption into the hearts of college ministries across the globe!