A Hope Deferred: Adoption and the Fatherhood of God is a valuable new contribution to the small, but growing number of books that address the topic of adoption from a biblical perspective. Clearly written by someone who has “been there” this book is the fruit of two decades of thinking and praying. From the earliest days of their marriage, to their flight home from China with a baby girl, J. Stephen Yuille and his wife have walked down a long faith-road together.
A Book for Every Christian
A Hope Deferred is not just a book for couples who are thinking about adopting children or praying for the Lord to reveal to them His will for their family; it is a book for every Christian. Yuille defines adoption as “the permanent placement of a child in a family with all the rights and privileges associated with that family.” This definition adequately covers both earthly adoption and the believer’s spiritual adoption by God in Christ. Even if adopting a child has never been, or never will be, on your personal radar, this book’s development of a biblical theology of adoption will stimulate spiritual growth and heart-felt worship of your heavenly Father.
A Book for Infertile Couples
Couples who are working through the trial of infertility will especially find spiritual encouragement on the pages of this book. It is written from the heart, to the heart. A Hope Deferred is not a how-to-adopt kind of book; other books suit that purpose well. Instead, this is a book that ministers to the soul as it overflows with tender comfort and biblical hope.
A Book for Adopted Adults
Those who have been adopted, but who have not thought through their adoption from God’s perspective, will benefit greatly from this book. Contemplating the fatherhood of God to all who have been adopted in Christ Jesus will generate a whole new appreciation for their own earthly adoption.
Three Reasons to Use this Book in One-Another Ministry
Let me give you three characteristics of the book, which also serve as reasons you should use this book in your personal one-another ministry, counseling, and pastoral care.
- Refreshingly Personal: First, A Hope Deferred is the account of a very personal journey. The even-numbered chapters are dedicated to tracing the personal experience of the Yuilles as they are confronted with the reality of infertility, surprised by pregnancy, and wrestle with God through a long, 15-year pursuit of adoption. These chapters effectively bring the reader into their story. Their journal entries are honest as they reveal their pain, struggle with their doubts, and find no reason to hide their emotions.
- Richly Theological: Second, this book beautifully presents to us the riches of our adoption in Christ. The odd-numbered chapters are dedicated to expounding a theology of spiritual adoption from the eighth chapter of the book of Romans. But don’t let the word “theological” scare you away. While Yuille clearly has a sharp theological mind he effectively teaches us in language that we all can understand.
- Warmly Pastoral: Third, A Hope Deferred is written by a pastor who has a pastor’s heart. Yuille skillfully brings the balm of God’s grace and truth to bear upon the brokenness of infertility. And, as stated earlier, he also delivers biblical truth to all of us for the benefit of our soul’s relationship with God.
As a pastor and counselor, I enthusiastically recommend to you A Hope Deferred: Adoption and the Fatherhood of God. In it you will find food for your own soul and a rich resource for your one-another ministry.
Just as God marvelously designed the human body to heal a broken bone, so He has equipped the body of Christ with all that is necessary for every member to be involved in the process of restoring broken parts damaged by sin. As with the human body’s reaction to broken bone, restoration of sinning brethren should be the “normal healing cycle.” The goal of restoration to the Lord, which includes reconciliation with the family of God, is consistently taught by other Scriptures:
- “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matt. 5:23–24).
- “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matt. 18:15–17).
- “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19–20).
- “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:7–11).
In all of these passages, the goal is the same. It is always restorative and never punitive. In particular, we conclude from the passage in Hebrews that God does not punish His children—He disciplines them. There is an enormous difference between punishment and discipline.
Punishment casts away, while discipline restores. Punishment is for subjects of wrath, while discipline is for children of God. Punishment requires payment for sin, while discipline corrects to protect and bless, because sin has already been paid for by Jesus. Punishment focuses on past sins, whereas discipline, while still dealing with sin, looks to the future blessing of obedience that follows true repentance. This is why punishment often provokes believers to wrath while biblical discipline works to produce sorrow leading to repentance.
Understanding the difference between judicial punishment and parental discipline is crucial to being effective in the discipleship process. God is our example. He never punishes His children. He does not give us tally marks for misconduct. Instead, He does the harder work of coming alongside offenders, confronting them in love, leading them to repentance and biblical confession, and restoring them to fellowship so that they may continue to be sanctified. The main reason why a punitive approach to sanctification does not work is because it fails to adequately address the issue of the heart—where true change begins. Most seriously, it risks undermining one’s comprehension of and confidence in the atonement of Christ, who took all our punishment on the cross. This is more than semantics! How discipline is handled in the discipleship process either affirms the theology of the cross or subtly replaces it with a performance-based approach to godliness that may feed a fear of man as the motivation for holiness rather than the infinitely superior drive of love for Christ: “and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Cor. 5:15).
[Excerpted from Counsel One Another: A Theology of Personal Discipleship]
One of the beauties of God’s wisdom is the way he uses our trials to equip us to counsel one another—just as it says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. As a result, many times the best counselors are those who’ve “been there.” When we encounter various trials it is a comfort to know there are others who not only care, but also understand and, therefore, can truly empathize with our struggle. That’s why, as a male counselor, I’m excited to make you aware of a new discipleship counseling booklet for women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer. By admitting her own fears and struggles, empathetic author Brenda Frields comes alongside frightened women to bring them comfort and hope:
“How did you react when you got the news? Even though I had entertained the thought that my biopsy would be positive, I still wasn’t ready when it turned out to be a fact. The words just seemed to hang suspended in space when my husband told me. Everything he said seemed muddled and fuzzy, almost as if spoken somewhere oﬀ in the distance. To be honest, I can’t tell you what he said after he said the word 'positive.' I knew that meant I had cancer. What about you?
- Are you full of fear?
- Are you in denial, trying desperately not to believe what you’ve been told?
- Are you depressed?
- Are you angry?
Angry, that was me! I wondered if God realized I had four very young grandchildren, all between the ages of four years and three months? Their moms needed my help, and, to be honest, I wanted to live to see them grow up. Didn’t God know that my sweet mother-in-law had Alzheimer’s and needed me to help care for her? What about my husband? His job was very demanding. I didn’t want to be the one to add stress to his life. Besides, I had always planned that we would grow old together. I was ashamed of my initial thoughts because I really did know that none of this came as a surprise to God, and I knew I should be trusting him.”
If you know a woman battling breast cancer be sure to give her the gift of another woman who truly understands. Give her the biblical counsel found in HELP! I Have Breast Cancer.
Here is what some others have said about Brass Heavens: Reasons for Unanswered Prayer:
“Some things in the Scriptures are conveniently ignored—such as the reality that there might be things in our lives that would cause a breakdown in our prayers being heard and answered by God. But this book will not let us continue to bury Scripture’s clear teaching, or continue to ignore the ongoing rebellions, unrelinquished resentments, and unconfessed sins in our lives that may be hindering our prayers.” [Nancy Guthrie, author, Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series]
“Few things vex the Christian more than unanswered prayer. Paul Tautges scatters the darkness of our doubts with six reasons for unanswered prayer. He blends biblical teaching with many practical illustrations to challenge and comfort us when the heavens seem as brass. Read this to revive your prayers, to melt the heavens, and to increase your answers.” [David Murray, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary]
“Paul Tautges has a lucid and practical style that helps the believer to deal thoughtfully with his prayer life. Both motivating and convicting, here is a very useful and biblical probe for examining and excising those sins that are hindrances to believing prayer. Read and obey for the sake of your future, your family, and the work of God in the world.” [Jim Elliff, founder, Christian Communicators Worldwide]
“In Brass Heavens, pastor-shepherd-author Paul Tautges addresses the age-old question: Why do some prayers go unanswered? Wisely, Pastor Tautges grounds his answer in the character of our Triune God whose very nature is to share generously his good gifts. Tautges builds a biblical structure upon that foundation, explaining scriptural reasons for unanswered prayer. Some of these are not easy to hear—because they call us to accountability—but all are important to understand. Like the Scriptures, Tautges does not leave us in the pit of despair, but shows that where sin abounds, grace superabounds—there are biblical pathways for dealing with our role in unanswered prayers and for responding humbly to God’s affectionate sovereignty in response to our prayers.” [Dr. Bob Kellemen, Exec. Dir., Biblical Counseling Coalition]
“One of the most painful things about the Christian life is waiting. What do we do while anguish piles up and God remains silent to our prayers? We don’t need platitudes or shrugs of theological ignorance. When we walk in darkness we need to cling to our God. Paul Tautges searches the Scriptures to unveil the character and purposes of the God who is always drawing the praying Christian deeper into faith and repentance. This book shows that unanswered prayer is an opportunity for rich spiritual growth—even when the heavens are as brass.” [Dr. Joel R. Beeke, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary]
“For over two decades I have been blessed to have Paul Tautges as my friend. His love for and dependency upon the Word of God, and his confessional way of applying its principles to the present realities of life, have given countless people encouragement and help. In my own life, I have come to the conclusion that the greatest work we do is on our knees. This book gives us practical ways of understanding and working through the things that hinder that indispensable work. You will be blessed as you read.” [Dr. Matt Olson, President, Northland International University]
“Paul Tautges opens our eyes to the mystery of talking and listening to God as he clearly communicates the reason God hears our prayers—and the reason(s) he is (or seems) silent. This short book is deeply saturated with Bible, gospel, and graceful application. It serves as a wonderful ‘hearing-aid’ of clarity, hope and understanding for all who have encountered brass heavens in the silence of God and have wondered, ‘Is God listening?’” [Greg Lucas, author, Wrestling With an Angel: A Story of Love, Disability, and the Lessons of Grace]
Get your paperback or Kindle version of Brass Heavens: Reasons for Unanswered Prayer.