“Farewell, 2013”

As I come to the end of another year I am reminded of what Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14)

Now this verse does not mean we should never look back for John wrote to the Ephesian church to “remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first,” (Rev. 2:5) and Paul told that same church to remember how it was when they were “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” But, Paul’s statement does tell us to let neither the victories nor failures of our past keep us from “pressing on to know the Lord.” We cannot change the past, but by God’s grace, we can trust Him today to finish the work that He has started in each of us.

So, on this last day of 2013, I would encourage you to stop looking over your shoulder at what “might have been” and instead “by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” and to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12)

May the Lord bless each and every one of you with a fruitful and Christ-centered New Year!

Merry Christmas to all (if the Fedex truck gets here)!

December 24, 2013

As I sit here on this Christmas Eve, waiting for the Federal Express truck to show up with the last Christmas gift (and they had better get here or life may be difficult around the Rankin house), I thought I would give a general idea of how 2013 went for the Rankins. It has been a challenging year (which is one reason why we just couldn’t get around to sending out Christmas cards…of course other reasons include laziness, procrastination, and other various and sundry character flaws that lie deep within this Scottish countenance).

During difficult times it is possible to learn quite a bit. We learned a new vocabulary word: Hidradenitis suppurativa: noun, a condition that made it necessary for Reed to undergo two surgeries and two protracted recovery periods (we are still in the midst of the last) which required some time on a wound vac (forgive me for using that seven-letter word, which is worse than a four-letter word). Full disclosure: the wound vac can be helpful in bringing about a quicker recovery than one would have under normal conditions. It has been very successful with people struggling with wounds caused by diabetes. However, we are thrilled that the wound vac is now in our rear view mirror.

We also learned this year that when politicians say that if you like your insurance plan that you can keep your insurance plan, it is similar to Dwight Eisenhower saying, “We have no spy planes over the Soviet Union” or Senators and Congressmen running for reelection saying, “We are going to cut spending. This time we mean it,” or, former President Bill Clinton saying anything. We have spent the last two months searching for new policies, and the required new doctors that are in our network, and, sadly, it is still in flux, but we are closer to having the issue resolved than we were when we began.

But we have learned other more positive lessons. God has given us His church as a place of safety, support, protection, nourishment, and a wonderful place to grow in grace with like-minded people whose lives have been changed forever by the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have learned that God’s Word is true and is the final authority for our lives no matter what the general spirit of the age has to say about any subject. We have learned that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18) in the new heavens and the new earth. We have learned that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” (Proverbs 18:24) and that we have an invitation to “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) But most importantly, Clifton, Dixie, Reed, and Caleb have learned that God’s “grace is sufficient for you, for [His] power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Merry Christmas to all our friends (and enemies, too), and may 2014 bring us closer to the day of His appearing.