Archive for January, 2015

I am not reblogging all of these since the link is already right there but I couldn’t let this one go by without posting it.

Learning To Fly

Day 18 – Fear when God doesn’t make sense

Worship
Trust – Sixpence None the Richer
Trust in You – Hillsong
I Can Feel You – Bethel Music
Called Me Higher – All Sons and Daughters
Oceans – Hillsong United
You Make Me Brave – Bethel Music

So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out.” (Genesis 6:13&14) God continues to give detail after detail on how he needed to build the ark. Then tells him, “… You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” (Genesis 6:20) Noah did everything…

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Yes FM Morning Munch

January 9th Fan Into Flame

Audio File

Talk about Fan into Flame weather!  Nothing like the winter session of the Morning Munch.  As I walked in it was more like the Morning crunch, crunch, crunch, that special sound that really, really cold snow makes when you walk on it.

Timothy had a lot on his mind as leader of the Ephesian church but fortunately for him sub-zero wind chills and drifting snow were not on the list! Unfortunately, Pagans assaulting the church from the outside and heretics picking away from the inside were the trials du jour.  Add in all the details of a new community gathering together and young Timothy was stretched to the max.  I would be interested to read the letters and messages that Timothy was sending to Paul, detailing the latest provocations from the pagan guilds or the newest twisting of the Gospel message by self-seeking, self-appointed prophets.  Timothy’s youth, intelligence, honesty and leadership had been questioned and insulted time after time.  While the Mediterranean climate kept the physical temperature moderate there was definitely a chill in the spiritual air for this new Christian leader.

Timothy needs more than an action plan, he needs more than a cheerleader even more than a great shoulder to cry on.  Timothy needs a principle, a resolution to end all resolutions that will keep him going whether times are tough or easy (sometimes the easy times are harder on faith than any others!)

Paul inspired by the Holy Spirit gives us the resolution to end all resolutions and the action plan to back it up.

For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity,  but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher. For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.

Here is the hook!  You already have everything that you need.  It is the gift that you have already received.  That feeling that you are not equipped, that God has let you down and not supplied you everything that you need for the ministry he has selected for you is a lie.  He has given you The Holy Spirit full of power, love and self-discipline.  All you have to do is Fan that gift into Flame.  How do you do that?

  1. Don’t be ashamed!  Christ is not ashamed of you and few things will put the fire of the Holy Spirit out in your life as fast as hiding it in shame.
  2. Soong-kak-op-ath-eh-o join with me in suffering:  don’t go it alone.

 

And today we look at the 3rd and 4th points of Paul’s Action Plan for Building a Fire.

 

  1. “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.”  Several other versions say, “hold on to the pattern of sound teaching…”  If you want to Fan the Flame of the Active Presence of God in your life don’t go chasing after slick teachers, big personalities and pop-theology.  Spend time in the Scriptures.  Let the Holy Spirit open your eyes to the pattern of sound teaching that the Bible presents and you will see miraculous power, love and self-discipline rise up in your life in ways that you could not even imagine.
  2. “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you.”

Jesus Christ is guarding what you entrusted to him by placing your faith in Him and declaring Him Lord and Savior of your life.  We are called to Guard the deposit of Salvation, the treasure of the Gospel but we don’t have to do it alone.  The very gift that we are fanning into flame comes to our aid, indeed becomes the agent of protection.  In fact any efforts spent outside of the Holy Spirit are wasted and vain.

 

So if your New Years resolution is already a bust, try Paul’s on for size.  Fan some Holy Flames of your own.  Walk with confidence and pride as a Child of the Most High God. Soong-kak-op-ath-eh-o ,Join with your brothers and sisters in Christ, walking out the trials and hardships of holy living in an unholy world together.  Hold on to the pattern of sound teaching that God has provided us in His Word and as the flames build Guard the treasure entrusted you through the gift given to you:  The Spirit of Power, Love and Self-Discipline.

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Yes FM Morning Munch

Audio Link

January 8th Fan Into Flame

I am sensing a pattern here and if it continues I may just have to call in from home on Friday morning because the glaciers are coming.  There was an undercurrent of glee in the children’s classes at church last night as the kids anticipated another day off from school with temperatures and wind chills plunging well into the danger zone.

In weather like this a flame can be the difference between life and death.  I recall a movie from my youth where one of the characters is desperately trying to kindle a flame with hand that have no feeling and a body that just wants to lay down and sleep.  Honestly I cannot recall if he gets the fire going or not.  However I do know this there have been times in my life as a child of God that I have felt just like that.  My spirit is numb and cold.  I feel like I fumble everything that I try to do.  I just want to lay down and sleep.  I have become convinced of my own ineffectiveness, shame overcomes my desire to serve, perhaps even my desire to live.  I have fallen prey to the lies of the enemy that tell me I am unloved, unworthy and will never amount to anything.

It is definitely time to Fan Into Flame the Gift of God, to refuse to be ashamed to testify about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and to move on to Paul’s second step for Fanning into Flame the active presence of God in our lives.

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God,”  2 Timothy 1:8

Paul does not call Timothy to do something that he has not done or is unwilling to do. Here is one of those translation idiosyncrasies that just makes my day (yes I know that is pathetic but what can you do).  Our next step in Fanning the Flame is “Join with me in suffering” and in the Greek that is 1 yes count it 1 word…  soong-kak-op-ath-eh’-o  perhaps even better than hupomone (if you want to follow that rabbit trail you can look it up on fanintoflame.net or you can look through the past two years of Yes FM morning munches to find the series on hupomone) Ok off the rabbit trail and back to the suffering.  Paul tosses out this big word (which only he uses and only twice and only in this book) to give Timothy a key to Fanning that gift of power, love and self-discipline into a raging fire.  Join with me in suffering, in experiencing the rough stuff in all the irritations, inconveniences and yes sometimes flat out persecution that comes with being a child of the living God in an ungodly world.  You do not have to go it alone.  Jesus said “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”  Walk the path of hardship and do not be afraid to ask someone to walk with you or if your path is currently smooth do not be afraid to walk the path of hardship with a brother (or sister) and remember that no matter where you walk, Jesus is walking there with you.

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Yes FM Morning Munch

Audio Link

(I had been editing out my pre-devotional banter but the segue would be awkward without it)

January 7thFan Into Flame

Good Morning! It another frigid morning; a shivery ride here!  So I noticed that as soon as I walked out the door yesterday you two let them close most of the schools.  Can’t leave you guys alone for a minute.  Jeff I am disappointed I thought you were going to keep Tommy in line.  But I totally understand with that breeze yesterday the cold turned frigid.  Good thing we are talking about Fanning a Flame this week!

The spiritual atmosphere in Ephesus was frigid too.  The Apostle Paul recognized that his young protégé leading the Church in Ephesus was struggling with his ministry in that very difficult mission field.  Just as with 92% of Americans who make a New Years Resolution, Timothy’s resolve to serve God in that heathen city was weakening.  Timothy was finding that as with any ministry that is having an impact for the kingdom, his was being assailed by the pagans and profiteers of Ephesus and from within the church by those teaching foolish and contrary doctrine, rejecting the purity of the Gospel message.  Paul himself is nearing the end of his earthly ministry, and he knows it.  “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure.”  2 Timothy 4:6.  He searches for a message, an instruction not just to fix the current issues that Timothy is facing but that will carry him far past Paul’s own journey home to be with his savior.  Perhaps he thinks of his own conversion, of the hands of Ananias resting on his head, the rush of the Holy Spirit enveloping his whole being as his sight returned and the immense clarity of Spirit revealed truth that would become his enduring purpose in life.  He writes with love, with passion,

 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.  Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy.  I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.

He writes with purpose.  Fan the flame, Don’t be ashamed.  If you want to dim the fire of the Holy Spirit in your life be ashamed of the power, the love and the self-discipline that comes with God’s active presence in your life.  Jesus said, “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”  Matthew 5:15.  Yet when we are ashamed of the Holy Spirit, of the Gospel or even of our brothers and sisters in Christ we slam that bowl down over the very flame that should bring light, warmth and life to all those around us, even those that hate and persecute us.  “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”.  When you are awash in your first love you don’t care what anyone thinks.  This is what Christ himself called the Ephesian Christians, and probably Timothy himself, back to in Revelation 2.  It is also a recurring theme for Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” Romans 1:16 and the writer of Hebrews reminds us that Jesus is not ashamed to call us His family, Hebrews 2:11.

So Today, Fan the Flame, Don’t be Ashamed.

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Yes FM Morning Munch

January 6th

Audio File 

Fan Into Flame, Fire Building

 

It is the sixth day of January, the year is no longer quite new.  If the statistics mean anything New Year’s resolutions are already beginning to fall by the wayside.  Yesterday we talked about Paul’s New Year’s resolution for Timothy.  “Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline”   I believe two things about this statement: 1. Paul was bringing Timothy back to the moment of his conversion, to the moment when he first felt that overwhelming presence of the Holy Spirit in his life 2. The frustrations and struggles of this new church’s leader reflected a larger struggle within the church itself.  This is the same church that Jesus himself would address through the Apostle John in Revelation

 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. (Revelation 2:4-5)

The language is different but the message is the same.  That intimate, powerful burning relationship that you had with the Holy Spirit at the beginning of your walk with God, rekindle that flame.  And why do we want to rekindle that flame, because it is the flame of a Spirit of Power, a Spirit of Love a Spirit of Self-discipline.  It is the Spirit that dwells in those who have been adopted as sons and daughters of the Living God.  It is the Spirit that came upon the Judges of Israel fulfilling the promises of God.  Othniel, Sampson and Gideon all defended Israel by its power against overwhelming odds.  Gideon is one of my favorite stories in Judges.  Here is a man that was hiding in a pit when God spoke to him but when the Spirit of the Lord came upon him he (somewhat reluctantly) kindled that spark into a flame that would save his people and do it in such a way that God’s hand in it could be seen by all.  As wonderful and amazing as all of those stories are, the really thrilling thing for us as brothers and sisters in Christ is that it is no longer a matter of the Spirit coming upon us, God has given us this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit entering into us as a an ever present source of power, love and self-discipline.

Paul, always the systematic writer, doesn’t just leave us hanging with this call to rekindle God’s gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Join me as over the next few days we take a look at Paul’s Guide to Spiritual Fire Building in difficult times.

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Yes FM Morning Munch

Audio file Link

January 5th

 

Make it New!

Day 1

 

Of course we all know as we go into the New Year there are those pesky New Year’s resolutions.  All the things that we are going to change…all those things that we are going make new in our lives.  Results of an University of Scranton study done a few years ago indicate that only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are brought to a successful conclusion (yeah I know what else do they have to do in Scranton…).

Paul the Apostle knew a young man who was struggling to succeed in his New Year’s resolution to faithfully serve God as the shepherd of a new church plant in the tough, tough city of Ephesus.  In fact Timothy just a couple of years earlier  wanted to quit and rejoin Paul but in response to this request Paul says “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines” (1 Timothy 1:3).  What follows is the first of what we call the Pastoral Epistles as Paul lays out some tenets for his young protégé in effective ministry.

Fast forward a couple of years and we see that Timothy is still struggling.  Moreover Paul knows that his mentoring days are coming to a close.  An unstable emperor will soon send Paul home to be with the Savior he loves above all else.  It is with this in mind that Paul opens up this second letter with a New Year’s Resolution that would carry Timothy into his old age and even to martyrdom.

“3 I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience the way my forefathers did, as I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day, 4 longing to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. 5 For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

The New International Version says:  6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

From the burning bush to the pillar of fire to the flames of Elijah Water Soaked sacrifice to the flames of Acts 2, fire has represented God’s active presence in the lives of men for thousands of years.  Paul reminds Timothy that the gift of God’s active presence in his life is the key fulfilling his commitment to serve God in Ephesus.  This active presence is the Holy Spirit and it is a gift made to each and every person who comes into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, accepting Him as Lord and Savior of their lives.  Fan this gift into flame, kindle it afresh and see what God will do in your life in 2015.

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I am blessed that I have the time and health and the companionship of my lovely wife to be able to review the events of two years ago.

Fan Into Flame Ministries

Allana’s Caringbridge Journal

What do you do when the academic suddenly becomes life, when things that you have read about, heard about or even seen become experience?

I sincerely expected my first post after the birth of our daughter Nisa Faith to be one of the joys and trials of new parenthood.   She is definitely much more joy than trial.  She is beautiful, sweet, cute and everything that I prayed for in our new addition.  I cannot let this new storm in our lives detract in any way from the miracle that she is.

Please forgive my rambling, there has been precious little sleep in the last few days.  Actually it has only been five days, five days in which one word, spoken by one doctor has changed everything, “Leukemia”.  I had heard that after a doctor speaks words like cancer or leukemia that everything else becomes a haze. …

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