Talking Stones

“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:40

Do you know what this verse means? What does it mean when Jesus told the Pharisees that if these people were silent stones would cry out? It means that King Jesus is going to receive the praise he deserves. If these people were silent in giving praise to him, he holds the authority to command the rocks to spring to life and sing praises to him.

What does that mean for us as we come before him in worship this morning and confess our sins? It means that we are free to come before God, through Christ, because of the Palm Sunday road that led to the cross a few days later. Your ability to come before God in worship this morning is not dependent on your ability to measure up.

Our Fighter Verse says it- by grace we have been saved through faith. It is not dependent on our own doing. Not of works. We can’t boast. If we did not worship God he could command these chairs we are sitting on to spring to life and worship him.

Yet if you are trusting in Jesus as your only ability to be acceptable to God, you have received new desires and a love for God to praise him for all the mighty works he has done. Any good things you have done this past week are because of God preparing them before the foundations of the world were established. Any sin you committed this past week can be forgiven because Jesus road into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, was slaughtered like a lamb on Thursday and rose victorious over your sin on Sunday.

I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.


Police Work

This is the best description of police work that I’ve come across to date. It is from a book I am working through right now called Effective Police Supervision by Harry More and Larry Miller. Some of it is praise for cops and some of it is a sobering reality.

The job is complex; it lacks clear-cut boundaries and is frequently underrated, unappreciated, and unpleasant. Even though policing is a rewarding career, it is often dull, monotonous, dirty, and dangerous. 

Police officers work at the critical pressure point where law, human tragedy, and society’s expectations (for safety and a sense of security) come together. The police represent the fine line that separates freedom from chaos and legitimate social control over tyranny. American police officers are inundated with complexity and buffeted by change, ambiguity, stress, and radically different demands coming from various segments of the community. While they also come from the community, police officers are isolated from it in terms of their power, formal authority, occupational role, and distinct subcultural orientation. American police personnel exercise virtually unlimited discretion in low-visilibity transactions with all sorts of people. They are constantly bombarded with reality as they grapple with uncontrolled passion, brutality, and the evil side of human nature. Men and women who wear the badge see crime, predatory violence, human degradation, insanity, corruption, and bizzare behavior on a daily basis. They are often confronted with grisly reminders of man’s inhumanity and mortality. Mark Baker has observed that police officers are a composite of their unique experiences and a reflection of the people they police. Many police officers perceive themselves as society’s “garbage men.” 

 


Exhortation on Psalm 100:4-5

The past two weeks we have been memorizing and meditating on Psalm 100. Last week we were on verse one through three and this week we are finishing up with verses four and five. If you spent time in this chapter I hope you saw the depth of who God is and how our joy should rise in response to that reality.

There are commands and then there are reasons for us to obey those commands. Verse four commands us to give thanks to God, to lift our praises to God and to bless the name of God. Thanks, praise and blessing. These are to be the marks of a God-follower.

Verse five gives us the reason we are to do these three things. Because God is good, because his steadfast love has no expiration and because he shows himself faithful to every single generation. God’s goodness, God’s love and God’s faithfulness.

So God shows his goodness, his love and his faithfulness and we are to respond with thanks, praise and blessing. Our thanks, praise and blessing are therefore not dependent on our circumstances but are rather dependent on the unfailing, never-changing, always-and-forever reality that God is good, loving and faithful to his children.

Yet God didn’t have to show this side of himself to us. Psalm 100:5 could have been written, “For the Lord is wrathful, his steadfast anger endures forever, and his judgement is to all generations.” Now that is true, but it is not true for those who are trusting in the gospel. For believers, those who have been saved by grace, there is no condemnation. We are no longer under God’s wrath, anger and judgement. We are under his goodness, love and faithfulness.

If thanksgiving, praise and blessing oozed out of your spiritual pores this week in all circumstances, give all glory to God. If  grumbling, complaining and backbiting slid off your tongue and found a cozy place in your heart, repent and look to the forgiveness of God that only comes through the cross that Jesus bore.

Even right now, ask God to give you a heart of thanks, praise and blessing because of his goodness, love and faithfulness. “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” What a Savior we have in Jesus Christ.


A Cop Psalm

Many nights before I begin my shift at 6PM I recite Psalm 144:1-2 in my mind and say it as a prayer to the One who controls all circumstances I come across.

Blessed be the Lord, my rockThere are countless things that I don’t have control over from the people I meet to the calls I am dispatched too. Yet one thing remains always true- never changing. The Lord is my rock through it all. He does not shift or change and no matter what happens, whether I see it as good or bad, I am standing on the rock solid sovereignty of God.

Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battleWe train for all sorts of circumstances in all kinds of ways. We train on takedowns, firearms skills, tactics, case law, and driving. Through all this training and in all this effort ultimately it is God who is working through me as an avenger of God’s wrath (Romans 13:4). I lean on that big time.

He is my steadfast loveI have good days and bad days. I have days that I perform to the level I’d like and days where I fail miserably and embarrassingly. Law enforcement can be a cutthroat profession filled with critics and backbiters. We tend to eat our own in this job. We are good at it. When I am feeling the brunt of that and my fear of man rises I can remind myself that God’s steadfast love is always there. God does not show me steadfast love. He is my steadfast love. His very presence is love.

…and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge….There are days when I wonder if this job is worth it. Victims who don’t cooperate. Suspects who get off on technicalities. A judicial system that appears unjust. Long nights on weekends and holidays. Yet in it all I remember that this verse tells me the kind of God that is always with me. I am not a fortress, stronghold or deliverer. God is that for me. I may represent the shield to the public yet God is the eternal shield of my soul.

…who subdues people under me. God is fighting for me every night. The people that I see escaping justice will either meet it in this life or the next for no one can escape the justice of God that rolls down like a waterfall. He is using me to subdue bad guys and keep evil at bay. I’m only a Band-Aid.

This job would be pointless if weren’t for the reality of the gospel. Psalm 144 reminds me of whom I am in relation to God and keeps me centered on what is important now.

 

 


Adoption and Money

Deciding to embark on the adoption road brings a seemingly unending stream of questions. There is an entire learning curve of simply wrapping the mind around what the process of adoption is and learning what terms mean (home study, dossiere, and Hague or non-Hague). Also, we have been reading, thinking and praying about what it means for our family to be multi-ethnic. The answers are not easy and the pitfalls seem to always loom.

The question we have currently wrestled with is how should we think about how much money we should personally contribute to our adoption fund and how much should we seek to come in from the outside. Through discussions with Johanna, prayer and talking with my pastor about it, these are the three things that will govern how we answer that question.

1. Don’t rob God’s people from the chance of helping. God’s Word commands all Christians to care for the widow and orphan. Asking other Christians to contribute to this is an invitation to obey God, invest in eternal rewards and receive more of God’s grace through sacrificial obedience. While it would be nice to have $30,000 sitting in an account just waiting to be used for an adoption, raising these funds slowly over time gives God more glory and us more joy in him as we see God’s people come alongside us with help.

2. We should feel the financial hurt personally and use it as an opportunity to evaluate our spending. The first reason does not absolve us from our personal contribution to this. If God has called us to this (which he most certainly has) we should be putting more money and feel more financial pain than anyone we are asking for money, and that is what we are doing. Savings are being delayed, extra mortgage payments are being put on hold and extra money is being put towards this adoption. None of it feels like a sacrifice because each dollar brings us closer towards having a son or daughter in our home that is right now in pain and needing a family.

3. Have a sense of urgency. We will do whatever we can to keep this train chugging down the adoption tracks and if it means we have to do some radical things to keep it going, we should be prepared to do that. I’m not entirely sure what that means right now, but our prayer is to remain sensitive to God’s leading and not have a lackadaisical approach to this.

I wanted to write this down for our sake and for those who have and will support us to know what our thinking is on the financial side of adoption. Also, maybe others will be helped as they consider adoption and begin wrestling with the same questions we are.

http://www.adopttogether.org/thepuelstons


Which Is Better?

There are two books that have been quite helpful in shaping my thinking about trans-ethnic adoption. The first one has little to do with adoption and everything to do with racial reconciliation through the cross. That book is Bloodlines by John Piper. The second one has everything to do with adoption and that is Adopted For Life by Russell Moore.

Recently Dr. Moore participated in a debate in the New York Times which posed the question,  “Does transracial adoption harm children or communities? Is it ideal for children to be raised by parents who look like them?” The question stirs up strong opinions on both sides of the issue. I love what Dr. Moore says at the conclusion of his piece. It is simple and logical.

Right now there are untold numbers of children tied up in the foster care system, or languishing in orphanages and group homes all over the world. There is no place for racist bigotry or identity politics in solving this crisis. What matters is the welfare of children who need a Mom and a Dad.

Can any of us honestly suggest that it would be better for a child to remain in this bureaucratic limbo than to be a son or daughter to loving parents whose skin is paler or darker than his or her own?

I know enough to know that I don’t know enough in this area and there will be land mines to navigate. I’m thankful for a God who knows everything though. I’m thankful for the cross which has one bloodline that is greater than any ethnic gap. I’m thankful for a church that is supportive of our efforts. And I’m thankful for a wife that is willing to take this risky step in obedience to God.

We hope to host a silent auction sometime in April and we would love to have you join us for it. Details will be coming out in the near future. It is a humbling position to be in as we ask for people to help financially contribute to our adoption. Although, I believe it is a position that brings glory to God. Rather than us being able to plop down $30,000 God has allowed other people to come alongside us, support us, pray for us, give money to us and receive an greater, imperishable reward one day.

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 6.24.13 AM

 

 

http://www.adopttogether.org/thepuelstons


Jesus’ slaughter and 50 million slaughters

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6

Today, we as a church are recognizing Sanctity of Human Life Day. This recognition was begun in 1984 and coincided with the 11th anniversary of Roe V. Wade.  The purpose of this day is to recognize the value of human life that God gives.

I’ve been thinking on our Fighter Verse this week and contemplating the implications it has on this day; Sanctity of Human Life Day. It is a verse most of us are familiar with, have heard often, and can say with a fair amount of ease. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Consider that Jesus said he is these things rather than saying he leads us to these things. Jesus does not simply show us the truth, rather he is Truth in the flesh. Jesus did not say he will lead us to the way, rather he is the Way. Jesus did not say he shows us life, rather he is the Life. Any favor we have before God, the Author of our lives, is only because of Jesus Christ being the way, the truth and the life.

From 1973 to 2008 fifty million abortions have occurred in the United States. Fifty million children have had their lives snuffed out before they even had the chance to gasp their first breath outside the womb. How did this happen?

Because we have walked away from the truth of Jesus, we have walked away from the way of Jesus and thus have forsaken life in Jesus. There is no truth apart from Jesus and we as a nation have chosen lies over his truth. When the truth of Jesus is rejected we choose a different way than Jesus. When this happens we do not have true life. To walk away from the truth and the way of Jesus is to walk away from true life in Jesus.

The pro-life issue is not something that is external, outside of our concern as a church. We are implicit in this sin and ought to seek God’s face for repentance. The prophet Daniel, though a righteous man before God, confessed the sins of his nation, Israel, to God. “We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules…To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, we have sinned against you. Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake, O Lord, make your face to shine upon your sanctuary, which is desolate (Daniel 9).” 

Our nation has recognized a wicked law since 1973. You may be hear this morning and be broken underneath the guilt of an abortion. You be guilty from the sin of indifference; not caring about the slaughter of children that happen each day in our nation. Each of us are guilty before God on some account.

Yet there is good news. The gospel has implications for every corner of life and no sin is too wretched or heinous to not be forgiven. Jesus went through a slaughter. He experienced his body being ripped apart just as babies are ripped apart in the womb. He experienced this horrific injustice so that we could have his righteousness laid upon us. Jesus removed the wrath of God so that we can experience the grace of God and this is received by faith. When we embrace the truth of Jesus, we are shown the way of Jesus and thus receive life in Jesus. There is no true life apart from it being lived in his truth.

Let us go before God, confess our sin and the sin of our nation, and ask for his merciful face to shine upon our desolate nation for his sake.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 85 other followers