Monday, November 29, 2010

Fanning The Flames

Our Annual Ladies Retreat is coming up in January and we're really looking forward to this time of coming apart from the world and having fellowship with the sistren (as Bro. McCracken would say ~heee~).  Beneth Jones will be our guest speaker again (we refuse to ask anyone else!) and we're not only looking forward to hearing her speak, we're looking forward to finding out what the Lord has laid on her heart regarding our theme for this year; Fanning The Flames.  She has always brought an amazing series of lessons and so I have a feeling this year will be both a mental and spiritual challenge to our Ladies (as always).  Anyway, thinking on our theme, and fire and flames and their mention in the Bible, I came up with a few thoughts of my own.

Fire, like most things, has two sides.  Fire creates warmth, a feeling of safety and it brings light.

Fire also rages, runs wild and destroys.

God used fire in the Old Testament in judgement, such as in Numbers 11, but it was also used as a cleansing fire, such as in Isaiah 6 and a purifying fire as in Zechariah 13.  God's fire is a controlled fire, even when it was used in judgement.  He didn't fling it about randomly, destroying everything in His path; only those who deserved this judgement died (refer once again to Numbers 11).

Man's fires are not controlled when we try to be the ones in charge.  When King Nebuchadnezzar threw the three Hebrews into the fiery furnace, he commanded that it be heated seven times hotter than it had ever been.  It was a fire that was out of control and the heat alone killed Nebuchadnezzar's men when they threw the Hebrews into the flames.  But God can control even a man-made fire and His children didn't even break a sweat in those flames.

Arsonists start fires due to a little understood inner compulsion, although some start fires for pay, such as for insurance fraud. Mostly, compulsive arsonists simply love fire, love to see the beauty of the dancing flames as they consume whatever fuel is available.  And some arson fires are due to a much darker reason.  Whatever the reason behind it, all arson fires will eventually flare out of control, destroying more than ever imagined, unless those brave men and women we know as fire fighters are able to bring it under control and kill it. 

However, fire that is controlled can be used to create beauty.  Rings, necklaces, artwork, automobiles, planes, ships.  Properly controlled, fire is of great use.  God can control the flame of our spiritual fire, if we let Him.  Under our control, the flames can either flare out of control, creating a false sense of self-righteousness, or they can dim and burn down to bare embers of laziness and complacency. 

When God controls the fire, He can fan the flame to the right temperature to refine our lives to a thing of beauty, like a Master Jeweler refining silver.

A silversmith was once asked how he knew when the silver was heated to the right temperature to be able to create something. His smiling reply was "when I can see my image in it."

Who fans our spiritual flames?

Who heats us as silver to be refined and molded?

Who's image do we want to reflect?

Do we want our fire to be used to create?  Or destroy?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Where Are The Tears?

That title has been rolling around in my head for the last several days and, tonight, it came to fruition.  Sometimes, it takes a few tries to get the wording right. Sometimes it just flows from the pen. This was a little of both.  I know Veteran's Day was November 11th, but here's a (belated) reminder that we owe them our thanks, our gratitude and even our tears....

Where Are The Tears?

Where are the tears for the fallen in war?
For those who have journeyed thru Death's darkened door?

Where the reminders of valor? Unsung.
For those who departed with life left undone?

Where do you stand for the red, white and blue?
The banner defended by others who knew;

     Knew they could die for taking a stand,
     Knew they'd be hated, protecting this land,
     Knew that their choice could be met with disgust
     But knew, to save others, the choice was a must.

Where are the tears? Where is the pride?
Where is the faith to stand at their side?

Where is the gratitude, down thru the years,
For lives that were sacrificed. Where are the tears?