Friday Book Pick: Abba’s Heart: Finding Our Way Back to the Father’s Delight
By Neal Lozano with Matthew Lozano
The central message of the Gospel put into one sentence is this: Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth to lead us back to the Father.
If you know God to be Goodness itself, Love, Gentleness, Tenderness and Kindness, then you might be eager to follow Jesus, even through a dark abyss, to arrive at such a Father in the end. But if your concept of “Father” is something other than loving, tender, generous, merciful and good, this is a journey you may be reluctant to make. And while you may set out on the journey, perhaps moved by fear or guilt, it will be much harder to stay the course. Your perception of God matters.
In Abba’s Heart: Finding Our Way Back to the Father’s Delight, authors Neal and Matthew Lozano introduce us to the truth about God our Father in a biblical, personal, and potentially life- changing way. This father and son team write with an aim of not merely convincing us of a theological truth, but rather of being a catalyst for you and me to enter into relationship with the One of Whom they write. Using examples from their own lives and from the many people they have ministered to, one feels the authenticity of experience in their words.
Acknowledging that much of our confusion about God stems from our imperfect relationships with man, the authors address the need for healing and forgiveness in order to move forward in a more authentic and healthy spiritual life. “Many people had fathers or father figures who were emotionally distant, violent, unpredictable, immoral, cold, absent or uncaring. This makes it difficult to relate to God as Father, because the association of that experience with the idea of Father God is hard to untangle.” Even in light of this sad reality, their message is filled with faith and hope: “Alienation from God the Father can be felt in the pain and emptiness left by your parents, no matter how hard they tried to fill the void…. No matter how your life began, or what was taken from you, the Father holds in His heart the healing you need.”
The story of the prodigal son was one of the means by which Jesus Himself gave His followers a glimpse into the heart of His Father, and the authors return to the parable throughout the book, highlighting two of the characteristics of the Father that shine forth from the parable: brokenhearted and full of joy. These become anchor lines for our understanding about God. If the Father didn’t love us, he wouldn’t be brokenhearted by our departure from Him (by sin); and likewise, if He didn’t love us, He wouldn’t be filled with joy at our return (by repentance). How unlike a stern judge or tyrannical ruler this Father—our true Father—is.
Perpetually realistic, and ever shining light on experiences familiar to every human heart, the authors acknowledge head-on the Enemy’s plan to usurp the rightful place of the Father in our lives. In so doing, they help the reader recognize and renounce lies that may have kept him from God in the past. With refreshingly clear language, the authors put it plainly: “As a seducer and liar, [the devil] will do anything to distort our view of the Father and who we are in the Father’s image. All the devil’s strategies work toward this goal.” Dedicating a whole chapter to “Overcoming the Counterfeit Father,” the authors give clear steps forward in defending yourself against our ancient enemy’s tactics.
In one particularly illuminating section Neal and Matt Lozano spell out three common lies that many people believe at the instigation of the Enemy: God is always angry with me; something is wrong with me; God is to blame for all the evil in my life. Neatly dismantling these destructive lies, the authors then teach the reader a means of defense against theses lies, and others, and they even lead the reader to take a stand against the Enemy on the spot with the italicized prayers that end every section.
Imagine what it would be like if you, all your family and friends, your neighbors, the whole city, even the whole state, the country and beyond, knew that they were deeply loved and delighted in by the Father. What if there was a deep sense of the Father’s personal love for you unshakably rooted in your heart? What if you truly believed that God our Father had good and beautiful plans for you, more than you could seek or imagine for yourself? It’s really true, and if you pray your way through this book, I think you will discover it.
Mother Clare, CFR