“Baby, the Rain Must Fall”

rain must fall

On this rainy Saturday morning my thoughts have wandered down memory lane. I think back on the many difficult times that I have experienced and also witnessed in the lives of those for whom I have cared. I have seen the tragic loss of spouses, children, parents, and friends to death; the narcissistic chasing of some dream (or “soulmate”) that has wreaked havoc and destruction in the lives of children, families, and churches; our culture “slouching toward Gomorrah” socially, sexually, verbally and in every other way imaginable; the pain and sorrow that accompanies mental illness, both in those who suffer with it and those who love and care for them; and the list of the woes that are our companions as we travel through this fallen world could go on and on.

In the midst of all of these things, what makes life worth living? What keeps us “keeping on keeping on” in the midst of pain, heartache, disease, and death? I believe two things primarily. First of all, people. I often quote my old seminary professor, Dr. Oscar Thompson, who said, “The most important word in the English language, other than proper nouns, is the word, ‘relationship.’” Life is all about “loving and being loved.” Being cared for by another human being makes all of life’s burdens bearable. It’s as Hank Thompson once sang (I know because I had the 45 rpm record), “It’s better to have loved a little, than never to have loved at all.”

Yet, there is something more. It is our God who is the “Father of mercies” and the “God of all comfort.” There is something calming about gathering with God’s people every Lord’s Day, hearing God’s Word read, confessing our sin, calling out to God in prayer, singing the hymns that God’s people of all the ages have sung, hearing the Law and Gospel truthfully preached, observing a Baptism or partaking of the Lord’s Supper, and in all of these simple ways being reminded that our God is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

It is true that “Baby, the rain must fall; baby, the wind must blow,” but it is good to know that our God is Lord over the rain and the wind, and that He has an eternal purpose for our daily, seemingly, mundane and ordinary lives. So, in the midst of my woes and uncertainties, tomorrow morning, I will gather with His people, and look again and again to the simple, ordinary means that God has provided to grow me in His grace.

The “Kobe Bryant Farewell Tour”

Kobe

Kareem

Magic

wilt

jerry west

ElginBaylor

Am I the only one in the continental United States who feels like the “Kobe Bryant Farewell Tour” has lasted longer than his twenty year career? It is like the Energizer Bunny going on and on and on, but, alas, it ends tonight, as does his great basketball career. And, notice that I said, “Great.” Bryant is a great basketball player, not just a good basketball player. But, for those who are calling him the “greatest of all time” I must beg to differ. As a card-carrying member of the “I Always Root Against the Lakers Club,” I am a good one to be a judge of such things. You see, I don’t even believe that he is the greatest LAKER of all time.

Let’s think about the Lakers who are at the top of the list. First, I have to put Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He has scored more points than anyone in the history of the NBA (no three point shooting for him). His sky hook was next to unstoppable and when the Lakers needed a basket at crunch time, he was the one who would get it for them. Second, we would have to write in “Magic” Johnson (some would put him first). Nothing else needs to be said about him except that he made EVERYBODY around him better than they actually were.

Some would place Kobe next, but even here I would place a group of players that I believe were arguably just as good as Kobe. Wilt Chamberlain (granted, he didn’t play all his years with the Lakers, but he could dominate the middle of a basketball court if Bill Russell wasn’t present), Shaquille O’Neal (massive man in the middle who could power his way in or quickly scoot past you for an easy two), Jerry West (if there was a three point line, there is no telling how many points he would have scored), and Elgin Baylor (silky smooth pure scorer in a day where you could get mugged on the basketball court without hearing a whistle blow) are Lakers that could very well also be ahead of KB.

My advice is to give Kobe Brant his night tonight. Praise him for the amazing basketball skills with which he entertained us for the past two decades. Honor him for what he has meant to the NBA and the Los Angeles Lakers…and then let him walk away. But, please,…don’t get carried away.

Tuesday (at least, late Monday) Hymns: “When All Your Mercies, O My God”

(Yesterday morning this was our offertory, and we sang it last night at evening worship. It is a hymn of praise for the mercy and grace of God that we experience from the womb forward to eternity. This was our Tuesday hymn back in 2010 and I just wanted to share it again.)

Joseph Addison was an early 18th century English playwright, political statesman, essayist, and writer of hymns. His play, Cato: A Tragedy, was popular among British Whigs such as John Trenchard, Thomas Gordon, and Edmund Burke, along with early Americans, George Washington and Patrick Henry. Furthermore, his hymn, When All Your Mercies, O My God, is our Tuesday Hymn for this week.

The hymn speaks of God’s shepherding care for all of His sheep during the sunshine and shadow of their lives on earth, and throughout eternity; and is a wonderful testimony to the fact that Reformed theology is more than just intellectually and doctrinally stimulating, but is also warmly experiential. It has been sung to the tune of WINCHESTER OLD, and in The Trinity Hymnal, the beautiful tune, MANOAH.

When all your mercies, O my God,
My rising soul surveys,
Transported with the view, I’m lost
In wonder, love, and praise.

Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Your tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart conceived
From whom those comforts flowed.

When worn with sickness, oft have you
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows sunk,
Revived my soul with grace.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the least a cheerful heart
That tastes those gifts with joy.

Through ev’ry period of my life
Thy goodness I’ll pursue;
And after death, in distant worlds,
The glorious theme renew.

Through all eternity to thee
A joyful song I’ll raise;
For oh, eternity’s too short
To utter all your praise.

“Don’t Press Send!”

don't press send

Every year the National Football League holds a symposium for rookies to prepare them for the very public world of the NFL. Herm Edwards is often asked to speak and he does a lecture on the social media. His advice to all of those soon-to-be celebrities: “Don’t press send!”

That is very good advice. When you say something stupid in a private conversation only the people involved in the conversation know about it (plus, everyone they choose to tell it to, and so on, and so on…), but when you write something stupid on the internet it is there for everyone to see for as long as this present evil age lasts.

This week there have been many things that have come to my mind that I would love to wax eloquently about on Facebook or Twitter, but since the above is true, I have decided that I just “Won’t press send!”