Psalm 8 (ESV)
To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.
1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psalm 104:24–35 (ESV)
24 O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
25 Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.
26 There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.
27 These all look to you, to give them their food in due season.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
29 When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust.
30 When you send forth your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.
31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works,
32 who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.
35 Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more! Bless the Lord, O my soul! Praise the Lord!
Psalm 97 (ESV)
1 The Lordreigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
2 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
3 Fire goes before him and burns up his adversaries all around.
4 His lightnings light up the world; the earth sees and trembles.
5 The mountains melt like wax before the Lord, before the Lord of all the earth.
6 The heavens proclaim his righteousness, and all the peoples see his glory.
7 All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!
8 Zion hears and is glad, and the daughters of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O Lord.
9 For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.
10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to his holy name!
Psalm 47 (ESV)
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
1 Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
2 For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.
3 He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.
4 He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah
5 God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
7 For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!
8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
9 The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!
The idea that we can live undefiled before God on this earth at this time in any way is beyond impossible. There’s nothing that any of us can do this side of glorification that would qualify us as perfectly pure. This is because we are inescapably impure, banished to a body of death. Justified? Yes. Declared righteous by God’s amazing grace? Thank the Lord! But we are, as Martin Luther put it, simultaneously declared righteous by God and sinful by nature. It won’t be until we receive glorified bodies that we will be untainted. Thus, everything we do has a little death in the pot. It was a sinner who did it.
That is not to say, however, that there aren’t actions that in and of themselves, independent of us, are not good, pure, and right. Sinners can, by God’s grace, do good things. We can do what is right. We can perform pure acts. In heaven, I will do the perfectly right thing for the perfectly right reason. But here on earth, I can still make right choices and do good things, just nothing that isn’t done by a sinner.
Telling the truth is a beautiful and right act, even if a sinner does it. Yes, we are tainted by sin, and at some level of motive or desire, we all sin continuously. But telling the truth is, as an action, good. It conforms to the law of God.
Today, I witnessed some sinners do a really good thing. In fact, James calls it “pure and undefiled.” I witnessed the Jolly family “visit an orphan.” I was present, along with about 30 other family, friends, and NRBC members when Ankur and Corrinn swore before a judge to take Ethan as a son, responsible to care for him as if he shared the same genes as their biological children.
There were accolades from social workers, commendation from the judge, hugs, tears, hand shakes, and high fives. And according to God, it was pure. It was undefiled. This is a good step in the right direction for a church who wants to care for children with special needs. Thanks, Jollys (and Kidders and others!) for setting an example, for showing us that sinners can do pure and undefiled things on this earth.
Ok, ok! That doesn’t have the same ring as when Paul Revere made his famous midnight ride and alerted the people of Lexington, Massachusetts to the imminent arrival of their sworn enemies, the Brits. I admit. But it’s still an urgent call to those of us who might be impacted by the arrival of those who will, Lord willing, become sworn friends of NRBC.
I’m speaking, of course, to our entire church family, and I’m speaking of the Frederick family, Mark and Jenn and Sam and Joe. And Kristy Dunn too (you will get to know her if you haven’t yet). At this point, the only urgency I’m foisting upon you is the need to pray urgently, to ask that God would give our church family an understanding OF and a burden FOR children with special needs.
What are we going to do? The past two Sunday mornings, I’ve asked you to pray about this. Have you been praying? Nobody has asked me to write this. This is me thinking out loud as a pastor, a brother, and an uncle. I do know that some among us will have to step up to the plate that haven’t yet. I’m quite sure of that. These young guys with these special needs are going to bring God-given gifts and burdens out of the woodwork of our congregation that have heretofore gone unnoticed or unacknowledged. We already have some in our church family who are classified as “special needs” children, and there are families all around in our community in the same boat. You may not even be aware of that. It’s true, though. A church that served families like that would be more than a breath of fresh air to them.
I am praying about this, and I hope you are too. Several months ago, a young mother attended our church and asked me what our church does to minister to families with special needs kids. At that point, I didn’t know how to answer her except to say, “Not much.” At this point, I still don’t know how to answer that question except to say, “We’re thinking through that right now.” My prayer is that it becomes clear over the next several weeks, months and years. Hopefully, at the least, this will give us all a heart for those among us who can tend to be ignored, left behind, and even forgotten. Both parents and children. And hopefully, we’ll all be able to answer the question a little more clearly as a body, a family, a church.
So, the Fredericks ARE coming! This week. Friday night. We’ll all need to figure this out together, and at this point, I simply ask that you’d continue to pray that God would give us great wisdom and understanding on what we can best do when our friends arrive.