“The Market Day of the Soul”

The Sunday before Christmas, as I headed home from worship, I looked over at Parkdale Mall and noticed that there was nary a parking place to be had. The Sunday after Christmas (which was the day after), as I headed home from worship, the same parking lot was filled to the brim with automobiles, as people fought to get after-Christmas deals, use their gift cards, and return all those clothes that were too small.

However, on Christmas Day, I drove past the same mall and not a car was to be seen; except for a few news vans parked outside of KJAC channel 4. Granted, I realize that I live in a fallen world, and that I can’t expect non-Christians to reverence the Lord’s Day, but I could not help but wish that the same respect given to Christmas Day, would be given to the day each week that the Lord commands us to “keep.” Because we are “prone to wander,” it is imperative that at least once every seven days, we are reminded of our need to worship the Triune God, and to think about His grace that has been poured out upon sinners.

As 2011 draws near, may we as God’s people take seriously His day; for His eternal glory, and for our eternal good.

8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:8-11)

The Rankin Christmas Letter, 2010.

(Every year in our Christmas cards, we send out an information letter to let everyone know what has been going on in our lives over the last twelve months. This is a copy of that letter.)

Hello to all of our family and friends,

This is that famous (or infamous, if you prefer) Christmas letter that you get every year to catch you up on all that has taken place in the lives of the Rankin family over last twelve months.

Clifton (56 years old now) is still busy being the Associate Pastor at Reformed Presbyterian Church in Beaumont, Texas. This has been his calling since 2006 and he has never been happier. He enjoys serving with a godly group of men on the session, and appreciates seeing what God is doing in the life of each of the Christians who gather there weekly to worship and serve their Risen Lord. He has put his Master Thesis on permanent hold and hasn’t lost a moment of sleep over it.

Dixie’s year (who has reached the age of…never mind) has been quite an adventure. She discovered that she had protruding discs in her neck (C5 and C6) and went through physical therapy, then two epidural steroid injections, and finally a cervical laminectomy in December at Methodist Hospital in Houston. She is still in recovery mode (she gets to start driving again tomorrow) and hopes that this will solve the problem of pain in her neck (no, I am not that pain) and right arm.

This has been an eventful year for Reed (15), also. After being home schooled for the first eight years of his education, he has begun attending a private school in Port Neches which, along with the regular curriculum, teaches job skills, social skills, etc., for those which special needs. He loves going there, and has shown a great deal of progress in his ability to care for himself.

Caleb (13) is still being home schooled and enjoys wearing his “The Worst Day of Anything is Better than the Best Day of School” T-shirt at every possibility. He enjoys history (as of this moment, studying the Cold War), reading (almost through with The Two Towers), and tolerates math (though not very well), and wonders how any of that will help him to play Modern Warfare on Xbox Live. We did buy him a new shirt for Christmas that says, “Dear Math, I am not a Therapist, Solve your own problems,” which I am sure will be worn religiously (once he cuts the tag out of it).

Josh and Kera are still living in Ft. Worth with their three kids, Kesh (9), Koen (7), and Kya (5). She is a personal trainer at a health club there and he is the defensive coordinator (football coach for the uninitiated) at Haltom High School, and, as a necessary evil, teaches math also. They all love the Metroplex and were thrilled (as was I) with the Rangers finally making it to the World Series this year.

We continue to be amazed at the marvelous grace of God, who in the fullness of time sent His Son to take on human flesh, keep the Law on behalf of God’s elect, and die as the sacrifice for their sin, along with sending His Holy Spirit to bring to life sinners who were dead in their trespasses and sins, in order that they might repent and believe the Gospel and be saved (Wow, that was quite a sentence)!

We want to take this time to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year,

Clifton, Dixie, Reed, and Caleb

Tuesday Hymns: “Thou Who Wast Rich beyond All Splendor”

Last Sunday night we sang Frank Houghton’s hymn, Thou Who Wast Rich Beyond All Splendor, which is our Tuesday Hymn for this week. Houghton worked with the China Inland Mission and after a particularly trying few years went on a tour of mission points, and while on that tour wrote the words to this hymn. It reminds us that Christ left the glories of heaven to come to earth; that Christ, although fully God, took on human flesh and also became fully man; and, that love like Christ’s can never be comprehended by His creatures. It is sung to the French tune QUELLE EST CETTE ODEUR AGREABLE .

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becomes poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship thee.

Roger Nicole (1915-2010)

Since 1944 when Roger Nicole began teaching at Gordon Divinity School in Boston, he has been a great and godly influence for the building of the kingdom of God in the United States and abroad. On Saturday, a day after his ninety-fifth birthday, he became one of those “just men made perfect.” Justin Taylor has written an excellent article describing the influence this man of God had on evangelicalism in the second half of the twentieth century. I would encourage you to read the entire article here.

HT: The Gospel Coalition

Tuesday Hymns: “For Ever Settled in the Heavens”

Many of the hymns in The Trinity Hymnal were first found in The Psalter, 1912. “For Ever Settled in the Heavens” is one such hymn and it is our Tuesday Hymn for this week. It is based on Psalms 119:89-97 and speaks of the sovereignty of our Lord, the inerrancy and infallibility of His Holy Word, and the surety of His promises to us, His children. Although it has been sung to several tunes down through the years, the tune most closely connected to it is DUKE STREET.

For ever settled in the heavens
Thy Word, O Lord, shall firmly stand;
Thy faithfulness shall never fail;
The earth abides at thy command.

Thy word and works unmoved remain,
Thine every purpose to fulfil;
All things are thine and thee obey,
And all as servants wait thy will.

I should have perished in my woe
Had not I loved thy law divine;
That law I never can forget;
O save me, Lord, for I am thine.

The wicked would destroy my soul,
But in thy truth is refuge sure;
Exceeding broad is thy command,
And in perfection shall endure.

The God of All Comfort

It has been over a month since I posted on this blog so it is time for me to get back in the swing of things. I have been busy with church stuff and Dixie has been having some health issues. Over the last few weeks she has had two epidural steroid injections in her neck (C5 and C6), a myelogram, and last Monday a cervical laminectomy to relieve a pinched nerve. I took a week of vacation this week to be the “chief cook and bottle washer” around the house since Dixie is limited in her physical activity (including driving Reed back and forth to school since she is not allowed to drive for two weeks after her procedure). She is now on the mend although she will have lifting restrictions for a while longer.

Through all of this, I have been reminded once again that “God’s grace is sufficient” and that His “steadfast covenant love” endures forever. I have also been reminded of how precious Dixie is too me. She has been a loving wife to me for the past twenty years (has it really been that long?), and I hope and pray that the Lord by His grace will bless me with another twenty or more with her by my side.

Last of all, I have been reminded of the goodness of God’s people. It is never a pleasant thing to sit in a waiting room at a hospital while a loved one is undergoing surgery (even though the risks may be minimal), and it was a such a blessing to be aware that people were praying for us, and, afterwards, to receive the flowers, calls, food, emails, and other acts of kindness that came our way by the people of Reformed Presbyterian Church. I am especially grateful for Pastor Mark taking up my responsibilities this week on top of his own (and his constant show of concern for our welfare), and I look forward to things getting back to “normal” (if there is such a thing) in the weeks to come.

I would like to close by saying with the Apostle Paul, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)