I wrote this three years ago and wanted to post it today. It was three years ago this week when my friend and spiritual father, Art Katz, passed away. I wanted to remember him today and again thank the Lord for the role he played in my life and the life of my family. Enjoy...
Thank God For Spiritual Fathers
My Tribute to Art Katz
As many of you know, my dear friend and spiritual father, Art Katz, went home to be with the Lord this past summer. I was privileged to participate in his funeral and want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the ways that he’s affected me as a follower of the Messiah.
It was one of the most somber days I’ve experienced in recent history, as three hundred of us walked that half-mile stretch of dirt road in Northern Minnesota that separated the place of the funeral service from the place of the gravesite. In front of the procession was a wagon, on top of which was the casket containing the body of Art Katz, the man whom God used to bring salvation to my family and me.
Different people were taking turns helping push it from the lodge to the garden where the gravesite service was about to take place. It was quite a procession – one that brought recollections from as far back as 32 years! Each step seemed to bring a flood of memories as I had walked that half-mile route hundreds of times during my teenage years.
First we passed the softball field where I spent endless summer days with my friends. The emotions began to build as we passed the site of Mom Brogger’s trailer, the location where the entire community would come for our daily 8 AM prayer meetings. As we passed the site of the trailer home in which I spent 9 ½ years, I could barely hold back the tears, thanking God for saving the Volk family and granting me the privilege to grow up in such a tremendous place with people who will forever be dear to my heart.
We then passed the big red barn. It was in the loft of that very place where, in the summer of 1975, Art Katz turned to me and said, “So, Scotty, are you willing to embrace the same faith that your mom and dad have embraced?” It was there that I, as a 10-year-old boy, surrendered my life to Jesus, our Messiah!
As we approached the gravesite, located in the garden immediately behind the Katz family home, I was overcome with emotion. Surrounding the gravesite were hundreds of people whose lives were radically affected by Art. It was quite a service; we sang some of Art’s favorite songs as his casket was lowered into the ground.
Though far from faultless, Art was a man that gave his life for the gospel. He was not interested in the praise of man, but truly living for eternity. In this brief article, I want to honor him by challenging you with just a couple of my favorite quotes from some of his books. Although most of these quotes can stand alone without any explanation, I will just take a minute to relate briefly how they’ve affected and inspired me.
The first quote comes from Apostolic Foundations and goes like this:
“A church with apostolic foundations is that body of people whose central impulse and principle of life…is one thing only, namely, a radical and total jealousy for the glory of God.”
In an age where the word ‘apostolic’ is grossly overused, the Lord is calling for a people willing to live in a truly apostolic way. Paul, in 1 Corinthians, likened his apostleship to the man that was at the end of the procession waiting to die in the arena, continuing on to say, and I quote, “the scum of the earth and the refuse of the world.” We’ve come a long way as many now praise so-called apostles who’ve divorced their wives so that they could marry their secretaries and continue on with their successful television ministries.
The second quote comes from Art’s book entitled Reality: The Hope of Glory and is from his chapter on the life of Joseph as follows:
“Joseph’s brothers, after throwing him into a pit, brought him up again only to sell him for twenty pieces of silver to a passing band of Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:28). In the first verse of the thirty-ninth chapter of Genesis, we read,
And Joseph was brought down to Egypt…
It seems to me that there is an inevitable bringing down before we are brought up. There is always a period of obscurity before God brings forth out of that darkness and isolation His Josephs for the age.”
This is an amazing quote to me! We’re living in a season of time where many preach there is no ‘downward mobility’ but only upward. If anything negative happens, we are encouraged to rebuke the devil and speak only positive words. However, I’m encouraged by the fact that many of our patriarchs, as well as Jesus Himself, went through wilderness times in order to fulfill God’s purposes. Jesus returned in the ‘power of the Spirit’, Moses returned from the wilderness with the authority of the Most High God, and Joseph was comforted by the fact that “the Lord was with him” (Gen. 39:2a). Oh, for a people who have been willingly tempered by the wilderness in order that God may get glory!
The third quote comes from Art’s book entitled True Fellowship an comes from Chapter One entitled, “The Unity of the Body”. Art is referring to the verse from Psalm 133 that states, “Behold how good and how pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity…” when he remarks:
Unity is not cheap, nor is it something we can ordain, enforce or establish politically. Once it is obtained and maintained, we need to jealously guard it. The word dwell indicates something more than a transient moment; it is a consistent thing that requires remarkable investment to obtain.
We must grab hold of this truth. Thankfully, most of you who are reading this do not have a “Sunday morning mentality”. However, it’s easy to fall into the mold of showing up at church, thinking that we’re in unity simply because we get along as we sit next to each other once or twice a week.
I’m so jealous for a people who are willing to be real without fear of being rejected by others. We tend to migrate towards people with similar personalities and we stay away from people who are different than we. Once we have a revelation of the Body – as God intends the Body to be – we will begin to recognize that those people who ‘turn us off’ are God’s instruments for allowing our rough edges to be smoothed. That’s why unity is not cheap and doesn’t come quickly. Are we jealous for that kind of unity? The easy way around this is simply to hang out with those that we seem to ‘click’ with. I believe that the Lord would be pleased if we made an effort to reach out and give ourselves to those who we would typically avoid – that’s when true unity will have an opportunity to be witnessed.
The final quote comes from Chapter 3 of Apostolic Foundations. In this section, Art is referring to Paul and Silas worshipping at midnight (see Acts 16) and states:
When you can praise God in the midst of adversity and suffering, you have the most powerful release from the powers of darkness. They cannot stand it, or bear to hear it, and they flee, because it is the overwhelming evidence of the reality of the invisible God. It contradicts their wisdom which says that when you are suffering, you are to be mourning, pouting, feeling sorry for yourself, blaming God, and accusing this man or that. But when you can praise God in the midst of your sufferings, you have ruined them. You have taken their last weapon, and they have nothing they can use anymore to threaten or to intimidate. You have broken through onto a heavenly ground. They are absolutely helpless to adversely affect you, and so they are required to flee.
I want to encourage all of you with this above quote. Midnight is the darkest hour of the night and is also the hour that Paul and Silas were found singing! It’s amazing to me that these two men, shortly after being brutally beaten for the Gospel, found themselves in chains in a dusty, dark prison. They had every right to complain and question the Lord as to why they were ‘rewarded’ with this trial after standing up for righteousness. Yet, without question, they did the thing brought their release, namely, worshipping in the midst of their trials!
This is the kind of people that the Lord is looking to support! Perhaps His power is available to us as we demonstrate the Kingdom in the midst of our earthly hardships. Grumbling and complaining must be replaced by worshipping and praising in order for God’s glory to invade our current situations.
I’m so thankful for a spiritual father who occupied such a deep place in my heart and has been responsible for much of my foundational upbringing. It’s my prayer that the Lord will encourage you with these quotes from a man who was so special to me!
Scott Volk www.fire-church.org
Art Katz below