I was recently given a copy of, “Hymns For a Modern Reformation,” a collection of hymns written by the late Dr. James Montgomery Boice. What a treasure!
After reading each of the hymns and seeing the beauty of the lyrics, I quickly began searching online for the music so I could appreciate the full grandeur of these compositions.
I bought the MP3 audio files and loaded them onto my iPod and began listening. Glorious! I hope to be using some of these hymns in our worship services soon.
But perhaps the most moving aspect was the introduction at the beginning of the hymn booklet. It was written after Dr. Boice entered glory by the composer of the music, Dr. Paul Steven Jones, who was also the organist at Boice’s church, Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia.
I was so moved to read of Boice’s growing passion for writing hymns so late in his pilgrimage as cancer ravaged his mortal frame. There were times when he was too weak to eat and too sick to even drink water, yet he found strength and joy in writing hymns based on Scriptures he loved.
During the final days of his journey, he had become too sick to preach or even attend church services. However, on one Sunday when the children’s choir was to sing one of his last hymns, he summoned the strength to get to church where he lifted himself into the choir loft to be near the young musicians. He came to listen with God’s people to the song he had written.
The organist was amazed to see Boice lifting himself up the stairs to sit quietly out of sight. When they made eye contact, Boice was beaming with joy from ear to ear! Although he was no longer able to stand and preach, he was able to minister through writing these hymns.
Moved with emotion, I thanked God for examples like this. My heart was lifted in worship. I’m thankful for men of honor and character who serve their Master in their own generation.
That same day, I was also stunned and saddened to read the news account of a pastor in Mississippi, in the same town where I once ministered, who had been arrested for downloading child pornography at a public library computer. My heart sank with grief.
The juxtaposition of joy over the glorious example of James Boice in his final days writing music to the glory of God while cancer was destroying his body – and then the sickening heartache of another pastor carrying out his lust with loathsome hypocrisy was more than I could mentally or spiritually digest in one day.
Yet our Lord sees it all. He knows every act and every inclination of the human heart, and still He is patient and longsuffering with us. He is waiting until the time when all of His ransomed people finally come to repentance so that none of them will ultimately perish.
Until that day which the Lord has set by His own authority, you and I must faithfully continue. We live in a world that has both the brilliance of authentic faith – which is a joy to the believing heart – as well as the sadness of sin in an ever darkening generation.
May our lives and our examples be those that make heaven smile as we minister amidst those whose choices in this life make the righteous weep.
For His glory,