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Brother

Will you sit with me in the ashes?

Can you wait it out; be silent,
As I wonder what comes next?

Will you hold my hand and squeeze it,
Fearless of the tears that come?
Will you hold me up and ceaseless pray
Until this day is done?

Will you dress my wounds with Scripture,
Doing all you do in love;
Taking my hand gently to help me stand back up?

Will you sit with me in the ashes?
And proclaim God’s character to me;
Remind me of His endless grace
And boundless love for me?

Will you stand firm beside me, and not grow weary or lose heart;
Encourage and point me to the One, who knows my walk is hard?

Will you sit with me in the ashes?
Until this day is through,
And my God has brought me through this,
Using all that you did do?

Svea Goertzen

Amidst trial, I sought solace in the book of Job. I ultimately landed on these verses in Job 2. . .

11 Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this evil that had come upon him, they came each from his own place, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. They made an appointment together to come to show him sympathy and comfort him. 12 And when they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him. And they raised their voices and wept, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads toward heaven. 13 And they sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.

. . . and I ultimately landed at the same campground that Job found himself when his friends showed up to comfort him. I was struck by the fact that Job’s friends were just that—friends. They cared about him; came to comfort him; wept for him; and, finally sat down with him on the ground silently, “for they saw that his suffering was very great.” Then, each, in turn, opened his mouth and put his foot right in. It occurred to me that, like the Israelites, they can become easy targets—it’s easy to point a finger and judge these men who ultimately failed their friend with their words, but, just as quickly, I find myself doing the same thing. I guess what drives this home is just the sort of trial where a longsuffering friend sits down beside me in the ashes.

So, I set about to prepare a litmus test (for me too), of what a suffering brother or sister in Christ needs from me—according to what I saw in the verses above. The words I wrote above are a pleading for that kind of friend; an exhortation to be that kind of friend; and, finally, a grateful heart—for there are brothers and sisters in Christ who are uniquely qualified to be that kind of friend—and they are a dear provision from God.

 

Svea Goertzen is a member of FCC and works for Faith Christian Academy. She and her husband, Steve, have two daughters.

Posted in: Poetry

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Penned, 20 March 2017, thoughts

I am thankful for this moment,
I am thankful for this time.
As I look upon your peaceful face,
And write this simple rhyme.

I am thankful for this moment,
I am thankful for this time.
I pray for your sweet precious soul
With each and every line.

Additional lines penned July, 2017

I am thankful for these moments,
I am thankful for this time.
I praise God He has saved you
In His perfect plan, not mine.

I am thankful for these moments,
I am thankful for these days.
I pray that you keep seeking God
In all your will and ways.

Accompanying note, when you sought baptism. . .

Dear Daughter,
The occasion for this poem is this:

I had gone into your room to say, “Good-night.” You were sleeping. Your peaceful rest was significant to me in the midst of our storms. After so many nights of slipping in to see you gazing out the window, troubled, this was such a delightful night.

But, as I wrote it, I knew I could not finish the poem, as we were, in our then-present state. I had to keep thanking God for each moment and thanking Him for such a time as this. I had to keep praying for your soul, dear.

God was gracious to respond to these pleas rather directly (though it seemed to me it might never come). My faith wavered frequently this past year, but God is faithful. He alone softened your heart. I couldn’t. He alone saved you.

Now, I could simply breathe a sigh of relief and thank Him for His perfect plan. Your adventure has just begun, however, and God is faithful to complete it. However much I love you, God’s love is infinitely more and far better than you could ask for or imagine. Seek Him first! Love, M

This contribution submitted anonymously from a member of FCC. 

 

Posted in: Poetry

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I Am Not Myself

By Logan Evans

 

I’m not myself lately.

No. That’s the problem.

I am myself.

My nature is exposed sans-gospel the less I am being filled with truth.

I am myself.

All the common traits of my strife and woe lies in how they might affect and impact me.

Not the Church.

Not dear friends.

Not close confidantes.

Not anyone.

Not God.

I am a god unto myself:

I seek my praise and glorify my name and long for all to know me and love me;

I serve myself, for who better to receive it?

And I am unto myself a god of destruction, for these things I seek and desire for myself will be my end.

Who among the sin-ridden could withstand the adoration of the multitudes and not be obliterated by the weight of it all?

And even now I praise myself for how well I construct this image built by words and wonder at my eloquence and dare David or Augustine to put their mortal curse of narcissism in a more profound way. I am bloated with pride and feel confident that my words are surely worthy of marvel

but

when “I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”

This from Paul, a man of high education and privilege of superior training, who, ironically, proved in scripture his capacity for demonstrating high rhetoric and wielding words pulled from a vast artillery.

Yet, he decided that the gospel alone and people being unified in and by the gospel alone was more important than the praise and wonder he could gain from eloquent speech.

And I am a fool.

Towards what end am I working in my eloquence?

Jesus Christ will last long beyond me.

I am insecure and fragile enough to need (or convince myself I need) to be oh-so-well-spoken and well-written for the sake of honor and praise, for without it I would surely diminish and decay.

Not so.

Seeking glory for myself is my undoing. It will end me. I have not the capacity in this depraved and earthly state to rightly handle praise. I cannot handle it and do not deserve it.

Perfection deserves praise.

Perfect, whole beauty.

Too much of a good thing will kill that which is not wholly good.

God is good.

And perfect

and holy in every way

and possesses no sin,

houses no evil.

He is the One and Only capable of handling an eternity of praise.

God is good.

God exists as good.

No one is good except God.

He is the chief Good.

If I am good or am recognized for good, that is God in me. I cannot achieve good without God, not completely. God exists before and after and beyond all else.

No one and nothing is good except God.

To have anything else as the mode and motive of good in my life is foolish.

So, if I am to adhere to the idea of God as chiefly and completely Good and solely deserving, then the implications are extraordinary.

If God is the chief good in my life then

I obey His commands

I love Him

I love others as myself

I love others more than myself

I operate in a manner which correlates with the good of God

I work hard and well using the opportunities and skills and gifts and abilities my good God has given me

I bring attention to Him and His Goodness through my own wonder of His Goodness and do not use the good He has shared with me for my own benefit, but rather use it to demonstrate the Good of God.

I have not good of myself, but only what I have from God.

He is Good and not I.

He is God and not I.

 

Logan Evans is a  member of FCC.

Posted in: Poetry

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Partners for Life

By John Worley

Partners in marriageMarriage Retreat Ministry Web Banner

partners in life.

Partners prepared to handle

responsibility or strife.

Partners who learn together

to lean on the Lord.

Partners whose course through life

is based on His Word.

Partners together

through all the tough times.

Partners who trust each other

at all times.

Partners in whose love

each finds fulfillment.

Partners for Christ

in whose Lordship

both have contentment.

 

John Worley was an elder at FCC from 1996-2016. John went home to be with the Lord in 2016.

Posted in: Poetry

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Children Of The Heavenly Father

Words: Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, Andeliga daggdroppar, 1858 (Tryggare kan ingen vara); translated from Swedish to English by Ernst W. Olson in The Hymnal, 1925.

Children of the heav’nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given.

God His own doth tend and nourish;
In His holy courts they flourish;
From all evil things He spares them;
In His mighty arms He bears them.

Neither life nor death shall ever
From the Lord His children sever;
Unto them His grace He showeth,
And their sorrows all He knoweth.

Though He giveth or He taketh,
God His children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy.

Lo, their very hairs He numbers,
And no daily care encumbers
Them that share His ev’ry blessing
And His help in woes distressing.

Praise the Lord in joyful numbers:
Your Protector never slumbers.
At the will of your Defender
Ev’ry foeman must surrender.

Posted in: Biblical Counseling

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Sin, When viewed by Scripture Light

Sin, when viewed by scripture light,
Is a horrid, hateful sight;
But when seen in Satan’s glass,
JohnNewtonColourThen it wears a pleasing face.

When the Gospel trumpet sounds,
When I think how grace abounds,
When I feel sweet peace within,
Then I’d rather die than sin.

When the cross I view by faith,
Sin is madness, poison, death;
Tempt me not, ’tis all in vain,
Sure I ne’er can yield again.

Satan, for awhile debarred,
When he finds me off my guard,
Puts his glass before my eyes,
Quickly other thoughts arise.

What before excited fears,
Rather pleasing now appears;
If a sin, it seems so small,
Or, perhaps, no sin at all.

Often thus, through sin’s deceit,
Grief, and shame, and loss I meet,
Like a fish, my soul mistook,
Saw the bait, but not the hook.

O my Lord, what shall I say?
How can I presume to pray?
Not a word have I to plead,
Sins, like mine, are black indeed!

Made, by past experience, wise,
Let me learn thy word to prize;
Taught by what I’ve felt before,
Let me Satan’s glass abhor.

By John Newton, in Olney Hymns. Read more about John Newton in this biography:

         Aitken, Jonathon (2007), John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace, Crossway Books, ISBN 978-1-58134-848-4

Posted in: Christian Living, Poetry

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Death First, Then Life

In Book 2, Section 8 of John Bunyan’s awesome work, Pilgrim’s Progress, a man named Mr. Great-Heart puts a riddle to a man named Mr. Honest. It’s a fantastic bit of verse:

He that will kill, must first be overcome;
Who live abroad would, first must die at home.

As is Mr. Honest’s response:

He first by Grace must conquer’d be,
That Sin would mortify;
And who, that lives, would convince me,
Unto himself must die.

We will not put to death the sin that remains in us (Colossians 3:5) without first ourselves being conquered, overcome by God (Romans 8!). This is true at the moment of conversion, and throughout the whole of a Christian’s life.

This is not “let go, and let God,” Keswick stoic passivity. God has raised us to life, that we may be part of His Overcomers, subjects of His victorious and ever-advancing Kingdom of Light.

But attempts to crucify the flesh, by the strength of the flesh, always fail, and thank God they do! (Colossians 2:20-23) “Bootstrap theology” brings no glory to the God of grace. The world is full of self-help gurus, but Jesus is not one of them. Why not? Because we must die and be buried with Christ before we can live and be raised with Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said it well, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

There can be no honest mistaking one of the central points of Christianity: if you want to live, you must die. Paul says that in our baptism we died with Christ in order that we may be raised with him (Rom 6:4).

The currents of this water are layered, and they run deep. We are born dead (Eph 2:1) and we must die to be born again.

But Jesus is the Great Physician! Looking with compassion on a race of creatures dead in our trespasses and sins, He invites us to receive exactly what we need: to die to our sins, with Him, because He died for us, and was raised for us (Rom 4:25). Dead to the works of the Law, dead to sin, dead to self, and alive to God, alive to righteousness, alive to truth and beauty, alive to life! There is never any variation in the Great Physician’s prescription: first death, then life.

Joe Bancks is a member of FCC.

Posted in: Uncategorized

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The Love of a Mother for Her Son

By Sherrie Holman

Cold blue points of light in a silent winter’s sky,
The strength of waves beneath the dawning creation,
The whispers and the shadows of lives gone by,
And silently within the womb – love’s celebration!

Beginning the love of a mother for her son.

Her thankfulness only God can measure
For the gift received, though only for a short while.
She gazes in rapture at the tiny earthen treasure;
Her full heart forces to her lips an adoring smile
Capturing the love of a mother for her son.

The rude world loudly beckons; but she turns it down
To answer the sweet demands of charity, and she is blest.
Her home, her husband, and her posterity are her crown.
Softly embraced, enveloped in peace, there is time to rest,

Deepening the love of a mother for her son.

Now a youth with eyes whimsical and bright with zeal,
Yet blind and prey to nefarious powers that assail.
She defends with light and truth, his tender heart to seal
With heaven’s promises which are trustworthy to prevail.

Proving the love of a mother for her son.

Prayers have shod the young man’s feet for the run;
He presses onward endowed with unseen shield and sword.
Because, for the want of brave men, the world is undone;
It is there that Providence counts worthy to record.

Owing to the love of a mother for her son.

Posted in: Women's Ministry

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