Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: Children (page 2 of 3)

My Identity as God’s Child

** This is written as part of the series 30 for 30: Reflections on Life at My 30th Birthday **


A father's hands

One of the grounding realities to all of life is identity. Who am I? Where have I come from? What is my value? Am I loved? What is my purpose? As I look back on my life to this point I realize that much of the reason why I have been so easily swayed in my affections is because I haven’t fully grasped and applied truth to these basic questions of identity.

As I reflect on the significant seasons of growth and change in my life I see a consistent pattern: these were always times when I was beginning to connect the dots between the gospel that has saved me and my current identity. In other words, the most life-changing seasons have been those times when I realized that the gospel was not just God’s means of giving me a ticket to heaven on some future day, but rather, the gospel is God’s means of grace to me now. In the gospel I find every comfort and every assurance of God’s love for me. In the gospel I find my identity, my value, my purpose.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of how God’s True Son was killed in order that we might become adopted sons & daughters, indwelt by the very same Spirit who was in Jesus. The same Spirit who was in Jesus, moving him to pray, filling him with compassion, giving him direction, comforting him through the weakness of his humanity, reminding him of his mission, empowering his miraculous works — that same Spirit is in me. He’s in every Christian, every son and daughter of God.

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4.4-6)

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…. (Romans 8.14-17)

I’m not alone, I don’t think, in coming to see just how important the doctrine of adoption is and how essentially it is bound up with the gospel. JI Packer was once asked to sum up the gospel in three words. Here was his response:

“… My proposal would be adoption through propitiation, and I do not expect ever to meet a richer or more pregnant summary of the gospel than that.” (J.I. Packer, Knowing God [Downers Grove, IL: 1993], 214)

Here’s the thing: while, like any Calvinist, I see that the gospel is about God making much of God and acting for his righteousness’ sake, I have now come to see that his righteousness (shown in the propitiation accomplished by Jesus (Rom 3.23-26) means a lavish display of fatherly love towards his adopted sons & daughters. His covenantal promises through all generations to be our God, and to have us as his people, is bound up in adoption — dwelling with us, in us, in our midst, as a father with his children:

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor 6.16-18)

If God is so committed to loving me and being with me (for his own righteousness’ sake!) that he is willing to bear all his wrath on his True Son to adopt me and have me conformed to his image (Rom 8.29), then I have a meaningful identity: I am a child of the King. I have a purpose: to reflect my Father. I have value: I have been purchased with the blood of Jesus. And I am loved (Gal 2.20; John 3.16; John 15.13; 1 John 3.16; Rom 5.8). I thank God that I can never undo that, no matter how much I mess up. No matter how much I fail, no matter how much other people value me or don’t, I know who I am in Christ. I am a son of God.

I have learned that the gospel takes care of the big questions of my identity. That gives great freedom to live with joy, hope, and expectation of God doing great things in me and through me… because he is my Father and I am his son. I pray that however many years I have left would be one continual season of growth in living in light of the reality that God has made me his child.

A Genuinely Moving Story

All of creation is groaning together, awaiting redemption. Praise God for the life of this little image-bearer and for the glory his life gives to God. Praise God for the faith, hope, and trust of his parents. Oh, how we await the consummation of all things when all that is wrong with this world will finally be made right!

Come, Lord Jesus!


Eliot was born with an undeveloped lung, a heart with a hole in it and DNA that placed faulty information into each and every cell of his body. However, that could not stop the living God from proclaiming Himself through this boy who never uttered a word.

In the midst of heartbreaking tragedy, the Mooney family found the presence of God strengthening, comforting, and guiding them. Their story reminds us to seek God and endure our struggles rather than blame Him for our hardships.

Too Cute

I just had to post these. They’re some pictures taken from the nursery of our church on a Wednesday night. The older kids in nursery are longingly watching the GraceKids classes outside playing games. It’s awesome. (At least I thought they were looking at the other kids playing… on second thought, maybe they were trying to catch a glimpse of celebrity blogger Tim Challies at play. If you look close enough, you can find him too!)

Parenting and My Heart

Sometimes it’s good to do what’s counter-intuitive. In fact, I’ve found that the longer I’ve been a Christian, the more I need to second-guess and examine every motive. Sure enough, there is deep-rooted sin in there somewhere. I’ve found God’s evaluation of humanity in Gen 8.21 (‘the inclination of their minds is evil from childhood on’) to be absolutely correct in my case every time I’m willing to consider for longer than 23 seconds.

This examining and cross-examining of motives and actions is almost nowhere more necessary than in parenting. What can on-first-blush appear to be ‘for the baby’ can really be simply for my immediate gratification (‘I made her feel nice, now I feel better about my ability to parent’). What is really sad about this, though, is that what is often for my immediate gratification as a parent will more often than not be to the child’s long-term harm.

So, for example, we’re in a store and Susie really wants something, but I already told her she can’t have it, I had not planned on buying it, we haven’t budgeted for it, and she doesn’t need it. What do I do as a parent? The ball is only $1.99 or something silly like that. She is sad if I don’t get it. She’s happy if I get it. Why not just ‘make her happy’ and get it? Wouldn’t it also make me happier to just buy something for my daughter that I know will make her happy?

Because we teach by example, I’m teaching Susie something in that situation when I give in and buy it. I’m teaching her that it’s okay to make unplanned purchases, on an impulse, whether you have the money or not. I’m teaching her that when you complain and fuss in life, you get want you want. I’m teaching her to look for happiness in ‘stuff’ that can be purchased. I’m teaching her that it is okay to strive against an authority. In all these ways I’m doing my daughter tremendous spiritual harm by ‘making her happy’ in that moment.

If that’s true–and I know it is–then why would I give in to her? Why would I cave when she has a fit? Why would I leave her undisciplined when she breaks rules? Why would I let her go to bed late, get up early, eat what she wants, etc., when I’ve thought it through and prayed it through ahead of time? Why would decisions that my trusted counsellor (my bride) and I have talked through at length be discarded in a moment?

Because I love my daughter? Far from it. That’s the opposite of love.

Why would I be willing to ‘do whatever it takes’ to stop our baby from crying and make her ‘happy’? Because the inclination of my heart is evil from my childhood on. Because my heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all else and I cannot understand it. Because my near-sighted selfishness is willing to sacrifice the long-term spiritual welfare of my child for the immediate gratification I get from feeling like a good parent; or maybe so that I can congratulate myself on how gracious I am.

I believe it. Now all I need to do is continue to preach it to myself as I make the moment-by-moment decisions I need to make in parenting. God give me grace to be faithful!

Rich Man’s Vacation

Well this afternoon I’m back in the office, sorting through e-mails and trying to figure how to begin catching up after two weeks of vacation. The highlights were (among other things) a trip to DC to visit Covenant Life Church, and a trip to the cottage this past weekend.

More than just doing stuff though, this vacation was great because I got to spend time with my family. In a song called ‘Home‘, Paul Brandt says ‘Time just flies no matter what you do.’ That’s true. Especially when your kids are as young as ours are. I can’t believe how quickly they change. What a blessing to be able to have this time with them!

And then there’s my amazing wife. Stacey is so patient to put up with me and my schedule. Without a doubt one of the things in life that never ceases to amaze me is how my wife can just keep going, doing job after job (though it’s more like job-during-job, piled on top of job) around the house, and with the kids, yet she always seems to be able to do it well and do it with grace. She ministers to me in amazing ways, even though our schedule doesn’t allow me to be able to spend as much alone time with her as we’d like. So this vacation was a blessing in that regard as well.

I’ll post a few pictures from the vacation below, after the words of one of my favourite Paul Brandt songs. While our house is not ‘run down’ and our bills have yet to ‘pile up’, I can totally identify with what he’s saying.

Rich Man
I look in the mirror, don’t see much
Fashion sense a little out of touch
The house is run down as the bills pile up
But I’m a rich man

Breakfast table, morning rush
Sometimes it seems we barely have enough
But if it’s true that all you need is love
Then I’m a rich man

When she smiles or they call me Daddy
All the worries of the world just seem to fade away
I’m alive and I know what matters
If this is all I ever have
Well, that’s ok
‘Cause I’m a rich man

So every morning, and brand new day
With each and every single breath I take
I’m blessed and I’m thankful, yeah I’ve got it made
Oh, I’m so glad life turned out this way

I’ve loved, I’ve been loved,
Show me someone else with as much as me

Yeah, I’m a rich, rich man
Yeah, I’m a rich man
Oh, I’m a rich man
I’ve got it made
What matters, what matters
I know what matters
Oh, I’m alive

Don’t Believe Them

When people tell you that families are a drag, that kids are a sacrifice, that it’s too much work, or that you should wait and have fun before having kids… don’t believe them.

We’re heading to the cottage this morning, so I just thought I’d post some pictures from a couple of our cottage trips last year. Nothing but delighting in God through the bounty he’s given us. What an amazing blessing to have a family that enables you to worship God better! What a wonderful end to our vacation.




Passing It On

An old professor of mine used to say ‘The teacher’s questions become the students’ dogma.’ In other words, what the teachers fancies with, the students accept and develop.

Don Carson puts it a slightly different way. He relates the American Mennonite experience as somewhat paradigmatic of what can happen in any church setting. He says, roughly, that the first generation of Mennonites believed the gospel, and saw that it had certain social entailments. The next generation assumed the gospel and believed in the social entailments. The third generation denied the gospel, but was committed to the social entailments.

Every Christian parent and every Christian teacher I know wants to pass gospel-belief on to the next generation. But how do we do that? I would suggest, based on the above insights, that the way to pass the gospel on is to be excited about it.

As Carson has often related, he understands that as a teacher, most of what students hear will be forgotten. But what do students remember? Ultimately, students remember what excites their professors. Children will have impressed on their hearts and minds what was most important to their parents.

Do you want to pass gospel-belief on to the next generation? Then let me ask: What excites you? What occupies your thoughts? Your time? Your imaginations? Do you spend more time on hobbies than on developing gospel-passion and gospel-living?

Everyone laughs when children first begin to imitate their parents and do things we unwittingly do, but they clearly see. It’s funny. They are observant, they notice what we do, even when we don’t. Why would we expect any less when it comes to our spirituality?

What do you speak about most at home? What issues get you most passionate? What causes get you to get excited at the drop of a hat? What habits in your life are the most consistent? What priorities are evident in your home?

These are the things you will pass on… whether we are intentional about it or not.

So let’s be intentional! May it never be said of us that we passed on causes or diets or health-awareness or gender equality or views on parenting or anything that is less important and less eternally significant than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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