“Don’t Tell Other People Your Business.” Well, Not Completely.

One never knows what, or how much of his life he should share publicly, let alone on the Internet (One would never want to offend its inventor, Al Gore). My Dad was one of those “Don’t Tell Other People Your Business” kind of guys, and the nut usually doesn’t fall far from the tree. However, over my fifty-seven years I have also learned that it is always good to have people praying for you, so I thought I would share a bit of what our family is going through right now.

Most of you know that after Dixie and I were married, we were not able to have biological children of our own, so we started the process of adoption. We decided we would put no parameters on the adoption: any race was fine, any sex was fine (I hate the word, “gender”), etc. The only request we made was that we preferred not to adopt a special needs child. We made that request, not because special needs children don’t deserve to be adopted, but because I wasn’t sure that I could emotionally handle the task. After caring for a daughter with cystic fibrosis for eight years (which I never regretted because Leah was so special to me), I just wasn’t sure that I was made of the “right stuff” to do it again. (Although if asked, I am sure we would have gladly received any child who needed a home.)

So when we adopted our two boys, we never dreamed that they would have issues of their own: Reed was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Caleb with Tourette Syndrome. Over the years, their lives have been filled with challenges, but we are convinced that all of this was in God’s will, particularly, that they might come from a home where the Gospel would be taught, and although having sinful parents, they would be pointed to Christ as the only hope for their lives. They have both been very special to us, and each has been a real blessing to us in his own special way.

However, the last few months have become even more challenging as Reed has begun to have more and more struggles. He has now been diagnosed with bipolar disease and schizoaffective disorder (a form of schizophrenia some experts say) on top of his other issues. So we are now in the middle of the complicated process of determining what medicines, and dosages of those medicines, will be best for him, which is at best, a “trial and error” routine. We are not sure what we will face down the road, but we know (in our minds anyway) that the Lord’s grace will be sufficient for us, no matter how difficult this trek turns out to be. I won’t go into all the details (after all, I am Carleton Rankin’s son, you know) but I would appreciate that those who are willing would take some time to pray for us that we might have wisdom, patience, endurance, and most of all, a trust that even in this, God is at work for His eternal glory, and our eternal good.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Clifton

Tuesday Hymns: “Almighty God, Your Word Is Cast”

John Cawood was an Anglican curate in the first half of the nineteenth century in England whose hymns are not well known in the twenty-first century, yet have been built on a Biblical foundation. Our Tuesday Hymn for this week, Almighty God, Your Word Is Cast, is based on the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. It speaks of the power of the Word in changing the hearts of people.

This is one of the reasons why the Word of God should have a prominent place in Reformed Worship. As Terry Johnson, pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church (Yes, I recognize that the preceding phrase is an oxymoron), Savannah, Georgia, has so wisely written:

The simple, spiritual, reverent worship of the Calvinistic heritage [is] worship in which we read, preach, pray, and sing the Bible. It alone can sustain and nurture Reformed faith and piety. Here we have order without suffocation, freedom without chaos, edification without entertainment, reverence without rote. Reformed worship aims Soli Deo Gloria, and in so doing provides a format in which true worship may take place. God is the focus and not man. God’s word determines the order of worship and not the inventions and traditions of man. The glory then goes to God alone!” (Reformed Worship, page 68)

The hymn is most often sung to the tune, Dunfermline.

Almighty God, Your Word is cast
Like seed into the ground;
Now let the dew of Heav’n descend,
And righteous fruits abound.

Let not the foe of Christ and man
This holy seed remove,
But give it root in ev’ry heart
To bring forth fruits of love.

Let not the world’s deceitful cares
The rising plant destroy.
But let it yield a hundredfold
The fruits of peace and joy

Nor let Your Word so kindly sent
To raise us to Your throne
Return to You, and sadly tell
That we reject Your Son.

Oft as the precious seed is sown,
Your quick’ning grace bestow,
That all whose souls the truth receive,
Its saving power may know.

Great God, come down and on Your Word
Your mighty power bestow,
That all who hear the joyful sound,
Your saving grace may know.

Front Porch Comfort

Please don’t take what I am about to say personally. “How Great Thou Art” is not one of my favorite hymns. There is nothing wrong with the lyrics or the tune, but for some reason it has never resonated with me (although I can hear George Beverly Shea singing it right now in my head, even as I type). However, as we sang this hymn last night at evening worship a part of the second verse jumped out at me:

“When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
I hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees;”

This week has been a challenging week in the Rankin household. We have faced some significant complications in our lives, and our future is uncertain (in our minds, not in the purposes of God). As these issues weighed on our minds yesterday morning before we started getting ready for church, Dixie and I sat on our front porch talking (okay, Dixie was talking, and I was listening). Suddenly, in the midst of the mockingbirds singing and the hummingbirds chirping, we heard a red-headed woodpecker squawk in a way that only a red-headed woodpecker can squawk, and Dixie mentioned how comforting it was to hear that sound. It was a reminder to us that the world will go on and that God was, and is in control, even though a tenuous future awaits us.

How true is God’s Word when it says in Psalm 50:

A PSALM OF ASAPH. The Mighty One, God the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. 2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. 3 Our God comes; he does not keep silence; before him is a devouring fire, around him a mighty tempest. 4 He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that he may judge his people: 5 “Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” 6 The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Selah.