Tom’s Song

Tom Carpenter
Tom Carpenter

One wretched sinner, saved by grace
Through Christ the Son Who took my place
Once dead in sin, a guilty man
Until I met the Great I AM

He knows the number of my days
Discerns my thoughts, sees all my ways
Sealed with the Spirit – guaranteed
O Praise His name! How can this be?

His way, His path, His narrow road
My life’s journey will yet unfold
And when “God help me!” is my cry
My Sovereign knows, He’s not surprised

Though dark and desperate days find me
I’ll fix my hope on Calvary
For Sin and Death cannot prevail
When Christ, the Cure, has made me well

Behind the lines

This song, and the idea behind the GraceSyllables blog, was inspired because of how God worked through Tom Carpenter’s life and his final days with terminal cancer. Tom passed away February 16, 2010 at the age of 51. You may learn more here along with the compelling words he wrote before he died.

 

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The Church: Scary or Sacred?

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It’s the time of year for scary movies, haunted houses, and tribulation trails. It’s also a season where many actively avoid anything remotely frightening. But there’s one place where the dichotomies of good and evil meet, it happens year round, and it’s called the church. The local church is a place, more accurately it’s a group of God’s people who are in community together in order to worship Him, serve and love one another, and make disciples of Jesus Christ. Let’s call it a gathering of sheep, which alerts hungry wolves, and causes shepherds to be on guard. It’s a refuge of hope, yet a place where spiritual warfare rages. The church is not for the faint of heart, but is for the faint of heart. It’s where the weak become strong, because the Strong came to be weak. Some see it as scary, some see it as sacred, but can both be true?

House of Horrors
From the world’s point of view, the global church and the gospel are offensive, calling out sin is judgmental, and the world hates Christ, hates the true church, and sees the Bible and Christianity as a religion of fools. Likewise, there are governments who persecute the church out of fear and out of the desire to maintain control at all cost. And because of sin, the fall, and spiritual warfare, many people will only see and hear about the abuse of some churches, the damage caused by wolves in sheep’s clothing, the false teachers (as in the Book of Jude), the power hungry, money grabbers, the lord it over you leaders, and the politically motivated bandwagoners. For some believers, who have been burned by such abuse, the local church can be a terrifying place that has impacted them so negatively that when they hear the word “church” they immediately cringe. It’s a place they don’t want to go because of their bad experience. Other believers may go to church regularly, worship and find value in it, but are still reluctant to join, get involved, and serve others because of their past experiences. Then every believer, whether they attend church every time the door opens or not, will struggle with sin because we are prone to wander from the truth of God’s Word. Oh, and the Bible teaches that the shepherds, sinners too, will be held accountable for the sheep. From this view, the church is a scary place.

House of Healing
But God, in His infinite wisdom, established the church to make disciples and further His kingdom and told us not to avoid assembling together. When the local church is functioning effectively, that is Biblically, and correctly, it is a house of hope and healing – a healing that may take a long time for those who have experienced abuse. The true church is a beautiful mess of sinners saved by grace, still being sanctified, struggling, yet victoriously perfected positionally in Christ. Where else can you find reprieve from the world? Where else will fellow believers care for each other, provide meals, send a note of encouragement, pray for and cry with one another? Where else will believers sharpen each other like iron sharpens iron in preparation for battle? Where else is there a victory cry over sin because of what Christ has done? Where else can ultimate victory over sorrow and death be expressed at a funeral? Where else are we taught to overlook offenses, forgive seventy times seven, while still talking about the consequences of sin and holding each other accountable through church discipline? Where else can difficult questions be asked and answered, differences of opinion and theological disputes debated, sometimes agreeing to disagree out of love for Christ and one another?

Exit Here
Yes, the imperfect local church can be scary and beautifully hope-filled at the same time. If you’ve ever been hurt in or by the church, know there is healing in Christ and that healing is often manifested in how His love is carried out through a local body of believers. So, be discerning, persevere, and don’t cut yourself off from the church out of fear. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is victorious over all evil and His perfect love drives out fear. The same Jesus who drove the money changers out of the Temple will one day return, and the church will be made perfect, no longer stained by sin.

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh (Jude 1:17-23).

Create In Me A Clean Heart

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Have mercy on me, O God
According to Your unfailing love
For I was born in iniquity
My sin is ever reminding me
Create in me a clean heart

There’s blood on my hands, O God
I have failed and lost sight of Your love
Don’t cast me away from your presence
Hide your face from my great transgression
Create in me a clean heart

Come deliver me, O God
According to Your redeeming love
Wash my heart and then make it whole
Renew my life and then scrub my soul
Create in me a clean heart

Restore me into joy, O God
Open my lips to sing of Your love
Lead me away from sin’s temptation
Let me rejoice in Your salvation
Create in me a clean heart

Behind the lines

Psalm 51 – David’s Psalm after God used Nathan to confront him over Bathsheba and Uriah.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
(Psalm 51:7-12)

He’ll Guide Us Forever

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We will tell of the LORD
We will make Him famous
Teaching future generations
To proclaim His greatness

He’ll guide us forever
Even when we struggle
Bringing peace and joy to our hearts
In the day of trouble

And He is our fortress
Withstanding enemies
For He rules over Mt. Zion
The King of the City

He’ll guide us forever
And He’ll never fails us
So tell the next generation
That He is the Savior

Behind the lines

Psalm 48

Walk about Zion, go around her,
number her towers,
consider well her ramparts,
go through her citadels,
that you may tell the next generation
that this is God,
our God forever and ever.
He will guide us forever (Psalm 48:12-14).

Look Away From Me

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Lord, teach me to number all of my days
My life is but a moment in Your mind
For I’m just a breathe that blows away
I’m a raindrop in the sea
Easily confused and so blind
Let me not complain about Your design

Where do I put my hope if it’s not in You?
Come rescue me from this rebellious land
For my punishment is ever renewed
I have no words of defense
Please stop the blows from Your hand
When you discipline me for my sin

Lord, hear my prayer and listen to my cry
Don’t ignore my tears falling on the floor
Look away so I can smile if I try
Kill the sin or leave me alone
Let me die and be no more
Look away, look away from me, LORD

Behind the lines

 

Psalm 39

“Hear my prayer, O LORD,
and give ear to my cry;
hold not your peace at my tears!
For I am a sojourner with you,
a guest, like all my fathers.
Look away from me, that I may smile again,
before I depart and am no more!”
(Psalm 39:12-13)

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting

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Do not rebuke me in anger
For who can stand when You’re jealous?
Do not discipline in vengeance
While I waive my guilty banner

I groan because I have been proud
My longing rises before You
I cannot hide my sighs from You
And my face is bowed to the ground

On You, LORD, I wait night and day
When will you provide an answer?
While my enemies have their laughter
My heart fails and I am afraid

I confess all my iniquity
Draw close to me in this distress
Do not forget your promises
Will you not come and rescue me?  

Do not forsake me now, O LORD
I hear my foe’s celebration
You alone are my salvation
My only hope is in Your Word

Behind the lines

Psalm 38

There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.

My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

O Lord, all my longing is before you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
(Psalm 38:3-10)

But for you, O LORD, do I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
(Psalm 38:15)

 

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