Posts Tagged ‘fan into flame’

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people. Philemon 1:4-7

Philemon,  I have to wonder if it is the least read of all the books of the New Testament.  It is unfortunate because it contains one of the most beautiful stories of redemption and reconciliation ever.  The story centers around three men, Paul the Apostle, Onesimus the slave and our subject today Philemon.  Philemon was a leader of the church that met in his home.  This was typical of the early church.  He was also a slave owner, specifically he owned a slave named Onesimus.

Strangely enough we are not going to focus on the theme of the letter, instead we are going to take a quick look at the man and the qualities that I find qualify him as a hupomone man.

People pray for him – Specifically in this case Paul.  However if the Apostle Paul remembered Philemon in his prayers I choose to assume that others were also. A true hupmone man inspires prayer by the example that he leads.

Paul’s words are very specific here.  “I always thank God AS I remember you…”  We might make the mistake of thinking that Paul here is referring to a prayer of thanksgiving for this wonderful man of God.  There would be nothing wrong with this but it is not what he is saying.  Paul is praying for Philemon as he continues his hupomone ministry in Colosse.

The placement of this phrase immediately following the greeting speaks of the importance that he knows Philemon places on this subject.  The hupomone man values prayer.  He values a life of constant communication with God (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and in this particular case he values the prayers of others on his behalf.

People talk about him – People talk about the hupomone man.  They don’t talk about the amazing “things” he has accomplished.  They don’t talk about all the books he has written.  They don’t even talk about the incredible ministry that he has built.  “I hear about your love for God’s holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus…”  They talk about his love for people and his faith in Jesus.  Now don’t get me wrong all of the hupomone men that we have discussed over the last few years in this blog were men of action, but it is the heart and soul that defines hupomone, not the results of that heart and soul.

He is willing to collaborate – Partnership comes naturally to the hupomone man. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. The Holy Spirit cultivates collaboration among God’s people, very often among people very dissimilar or with competing priorities.  Consider the struggles of Paul and Barnabas, the motley crew of the twelve disciples.  Jonathon’s future clashed directly with the anointing on David.  The spies at Jericho and Rahab had so little in common yet together they brought down a city and brought forth the Messiah!  These collaborations serve to deepen our understanding of the faith.

He cultivates joy and encouragement – If the joy of the Lord is his strength, the hupomone man likes to spread his strength around. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement. It is the essence of the Holy Spirit flowing out of him to those around that extinguishes fear with encouragement that is not tied to circumstances but to the source of all hupomone, God Himself.

He refreshes – The word that Paul uses here is the same word that is used to quote Jesus when he said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.  The hupomone man is quite simply allowing the very basic qualities of his Lord and Savior flow out of him.  He calls out to those around him to cease their futile labors. Anapaow is an emphasized form of the Greek word for pause.  Literally it is an “up pause”.  The presence of a hupomone man brings “up pause”.

Paul gives us a snapshot of the hupomone man.  It is the mirror for Philemon to look into as he stepped into a personal and cultural challenge.  Onesimus, his slave/property had run away.  Potentially he had stolen from Philemon as well.  Somehow this run-away slave met up with Paul in Rome.  Onesimus became a brother in the faith and told Paul what had occurred.  Paul sent Onesimus back to Philemon instigating a journey in faith and hupomone living for both of them.  Scripture leaves us to our own interpretation of the outcome of the journey, but church tradition tells us that some years later Philemon and Onesimus are martyred side by side proclaiming the Gospel message and establishing them both as hupomone men.

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FIFM

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. 2 Timothy 1:6

God spoke this verse to Allana and I back in 2003.  We had only been together a couple of years.  These were difficult years.  Allana had to adjust to being married, having two sons and caring for our little Sami.  Chayla was born in April and to top it off I was working crazy hours.  In the midst of all of that God was doing incredible things in our lives.  Fan Into Flame Ministries was born out of that crucible.  The idea would grow and be tempered over the years by moments of spirit led engagement and by intense personal suffering.  For Allana these days bore the fruit of True Beauty.  For me the focus became Hupomone (because I am a geek and Greek is cool) or Patience, Endurance, Perseverance.  Yet still, it continued to be at the core, the call to Fan Into Flame that gift, in ourselves and in others.

Let’s back track a little.

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved son: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. 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.

Paul takes Timothy down memory lane for a minute.  He reminds him that he is Paul’s son in the faith.  Why does Paul do this?  He wants Timothy to remember a very special moment in his life, the moment that he received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  The moment that God’s Gift was so graciously bestowed on a young man.  I have to wonder if Timothy didn’t tear up a little, thinking of his father in the faith facing death in Rome.  Perhaps he felt a little shame that the difficulties of ministry in Ephesus had worn him down.  Yet Paul tears all that away.  Striking to the core of Hupomone, without using the word, “Fan into flame the gift of God…”  There is nothing else that we can do to endure as children of God.

I have actually heard this verse taught as a call to utilize those very special and individual gifts that God has bestowed on each one of us.  However the context of the verses that follow this verse (not that He doesn’t desire each of us to serve him with all our gifts) make it clear that Paul is talking about one gift.  I will designate it the Gift.  The cool thing is that this Gift is the same for us all and yet manifests itself very differently in each of us.

7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

There it is, the Gift.  It is nothing less than God Himself given to each of us that believe and confess.  It is this Gift that makes us bold endowing us with power, love and self-discipline.  It is a special power available only through Jesus Christ.  It is power not as the world gives, or recognizes power.  It is the power to testify of Jesus and to stand with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  It is power that is inextricably joined to love.  Indeed 1 Corinthians 13 tells us that power without love is vain and useless.

8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

This Gift is one that empowers without limit, motivates in love and operates with self-discipline even as Christ Himself cried out in Gethsemane, “39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39  In a moment that the whole world around Him saw as the greatest weakness, Jesus exploded the chains of sin and death with the greatest demonstration of power, motivated by love and operating in Self-discipline as only God himself could.

9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

HE HAS SAVED US!  And called us by grace, a grace that is eternal.  But he did not just call us to a holy life and leave us to our own pitiful attempts.  He provided the Gift.  It is the Gift of revealed Grace.  It is the Gift of revealed Life Eternal.  It is the Gift of the Truth, the Gift of the Good News and Great Joy which shall be to all People.  It is the Gift that endows us with the same power that confounded the law and threw the world into confusion.  How foolish would we be not to fan THAT GIFT into flame in our lives.

 

 

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solomons-temple

 

When we think of the Old Testament temple most of us think of Solomon in all his glory.  The son of King David, usually recognized as the greatest King of the Jewish people.  He was rich beyond measure, recognized for his wisdom and international influence.  He reigned over an unprecedented era of peace for Israel.

Solomon was called upon by God to build the temple to house the Ark of the Covenant and God’s revealed presence in Israel.  He was able to call upon the best of the best materials and artisans in the known world.  Gifts poured in from all over to help complete this monumental task.  1 Kings 5-7 provides us with the glorious details of this building like no other in history.  The author of 1 Kings provides us with wonderful detail about the construction, decor and furnishings that defined this wonderful project.  All the wealth and influence that God provided to Solomon represented in Solomon’s obedience to this command of God.

There is another temple builder in the Old Testament.  He is less known.  One is unlikely to find anyone named after him.  In comparison to Solomon he did not have the wealth, the fame or the influence that Solomon was able to bring to bear on the building of the first Temple.  Zerubbabel was returning to Judah, less than half of the kingdom that Solomon ruled.  He was returning to a land that had been laid wasted by Nebuchadnezzar, suffering the consequences to rebellion both against God and against Babylon.  He returned to Jerusalem with a ragtag group exiles, born and raised in a foreign land.  He came from the line of David, but he was not really a king.  He ruled at the pleasure of Babylon and the land he governed was more of province than a kingdom.  He was surrounded by adversaries, not allies.  Zerubbabel did not command the immense respect given to Solomon.  Biblically he takes a backseat to Ezra and even to Cyrus King of Persia.  Even after the temple was completed, it was not all pats on the back and cheers.  There were jeers in the crowd also.  Those few old enough to remember the former glory of the Temple built by Solomon, decried this new temple as inadequate. Yet through all of this Zerubbabel ruled over an incredible revival in Judah.

Comparison is one the greater weapons that Satan uses to undermine the faith of the Hupomone man.  Here we have two men, both called to the same task, one from a position of wealth, strength and glory, the other from a place of defeat, servitude and subjection.  Zerubbabel could have well fallen into a rut of rebellious comparison.  “But God you gave Solomon everything to build your temple and I have nothing. I am not even really a king.”  We are so tempted to view the path that God has laid before us in comparison to others who seem to have it all.  Sometimes we even compare our current call to a place where we were before.  Paul well understood this risky place when he penned the words, “I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstances I have learned the secret of being filled and growing hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.  I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:12-13

This is the position of the Hupomone man.  He sees the nature of obedience resting not in the arms of ever changing circumstance but in the arms of an unchanging God.  We do not know a lot of details about Zerubbabel, but this son, of a son of exile did not shirk his duty to serve Yaweh.  He obeyed the call of God on his life and was true to his position as a son of David even when faced with opposition that compared his humble state to the glory days of Israel.  Though relegated to the closet of history, he stands as an example of the Hupomone man that we would do well to follow.

 

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“Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting rock”

Isaiah 26:4

I have been reading the Major Prophets in my personal devotions.  Isaiah and Jeremiah, these guys were some Major Hupomone Men!  Depending on how you figure the history and do the math Isaiah spoke for God over a period of around 60 years!  Jeremiah’s career spanned about 40 years.  They were both fearless before men and absolutely devoted to God.  They both were despised and revered.  They were both threatened and abused for their devotion to the word of the Lord.  They are both honored by recognition in the New Testament.  Jeremiah is even called out as a potential identity for Jesus Christ.  Isaiah is recognized as the most prolific messianic prophet.  He foretold John the Baptist and his mission.  It was the book of Isaiah that the Ethiopian Eunuch was reading on his way home from Jerusalem.

So what is it about these two men that makes them truly Hupomone men?

 Isaiah and Jeremiah were both called by God to serve him and speak to the people for him.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”  Jeremiah 1:5

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,”Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?”  Then I said, “Here am I.  Send me!”  Isaiah 6:8

The call of God on our lives is at the very core of Hupomone.  There is an illusion here that can trip us up.  It may appear to us that the Call of God on the lives of Jeremiah and Isaiah was about being a prophet.  Jeremiah is a little more explicit about the nature of God’s call on Jeremiah’s life.  While the call extends to vocation, it is not at its center about vocation. “And before you were born I consecrated you…”.  Jeremiah was set apart to be in relationship with God long before he ever delivered a Word from God.  We see Isaiah already positioned to hear the voice of God before he seals his vocation with the words, “Here am I Send me!”  

Paul lays out the course of Hupomone for a young pastor named Timothy

9 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, 2 Timothy 1:9

Hupomone begins with salvation.  It is only when we accept the extended hand of fellowship from God that includes a call to be separated or holy that we open the door to the steadfast, enduring lifestyle of abandoning our own purposes to follow God’s.  Paul makes it clear that this call is not about anything that we have done (or be extension anything that Isaiah or Jeremiah had done).  It is an undeserved gift.  It is grace.  In Ephesians Paul tells us that the very nature of this calling gives us hope “18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” Ephesians 1:8 

The kind of perseverance that we see rising out of the call of God comes about from having a view to eternity and to the inheritance of the saints, first to Israel in the Old Testament and then opened up to all humankind by the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

 

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 “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the LORD your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed”

Joshua 23:14

HUPOMONE

Definition:
-steadfastness, constancy, endurance
-in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings
-patiently, and steadfastly
-a patient, steadfast waiting for
-a patient enduring, sustaining, perseverance

First off, I am not dying, well at least my demise is not imminent.  Though if this blog is your main form of connection to me you may have wondered….

Allana and I have talked for some time about starting a parallel men’s ministry called Hupomone Men.  I have been praying about this for awhile.  I think as Christians that line has become something of an avoidance mechanism.  I know that it has been for me.  True Beauty held its first conference this weekend and I announced the imminent creation of Hupomone.  So time to keep praying but take a step forward.

I have been in what has been perhaps the biggest struggle of my life over the last few years.  For five years my life has been one crisis after another.  First, after 7 miscarriages Allana and I were pregnant again.  For 3 months we prayed through our acceptance of an almost certain loss.  For 3 months God brought us into a new realm of trust (trust that would serve us well in the coming year).  For 3 months we rejoiced in God’s faithfulness to a promise made to Allana several years ago.  It was a promise that we thought we had misunderstood.  It was a promise that we thought we had to reinterpret. It was a promise that was birthed on December 16 2012 (Nisa Faith). Then we had 19 days of unfettered rejoicing, the promise come to life.  What a gift those 19 days were.  What a gift the whole journey was.  It was a gift of discipleship preparing us for the places that God would walk with us; for two years of emotional and physical agony as Allana battled Leukemia.  Two years of tremendous ministry in the face of adversity.  For three years we operated in the valley of the shadow of death.  It fostered great reliance on God for great and mighty things that literally meant the difference between life and death.

Read the end of Exodus and the book of Joshua.  This is where the Israelite people were when Joshua spoke the words above.  They had been through the crisis, their very existence threatened.  I am finding that “the crisis” forces an intense faith and closeness with God as well as a multitude of amazing ministry opportunities.  Even as God flooded my heart over the last decade with the need to “fan the flame of the gift of God” within me; through these times He has repeated the echoing refrain of Hupomone.  Perhaps the need is so great because we are not a society who values this.  We are the throw-away society.  If it is uncomfortable or inconvenient throw it away, churches, jobs, marriages, babies.  We are the disposable people.  We are all to often men of the disposable.  This is the very antithesis of our Lord and his desire for us. Perhaps the need is so great because I am a man of the disposable but by embracing the Holy Spirit in my life and fanning the flame that he has placed there I am just beginning to understand what it means to be a Hupomone Man with a Hupomone God.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

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FIFM

 

“The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.”  Exodus 3:2

There is a fire that comes as a gift from God.  It is a fire of empowerment.  It is a fire generated from the unlimited love that God has for mankind.  God presents this fire to man as a guide, as inspiration and as an internal power to effectively serve Him.

“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 the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:6

Power, love and self-discipline are the hallmarks of this fire.  It is a fire that sets God’s people on a path of redemption, for themselves and for those to whom God sends them. It is in fact the very fire of redemption for those who believe.  The fire redeems with a view to service.

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar.  With it he touched my mouth and said,’See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.’  Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?”  And I said, ‘Here am I.  Send me!” Isaiah 6:6-8

It is not a fire that is a once and done event in our lives.  It needs to be cultivated and nurtured.  We fan that flame as we develop our relationship with God.  I think of all that has transpired in our lives since God spoke 2 Timothy 1:6 into our lives in 2005 and gave us the name “Fan Into Flame Ministries”.  It is in the difficulties of life that we are able to build the flames of the Holy Spirit inside us.  Paul goes on to say, “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12.  

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my wife Allana’s bone marrow transplant.  It was both a moment of life and the beginning of one of the most difficult periods in my entire life.  As I look back I can see the Holy Spirit working through the difficulties, stripping away self-reliance and providing opportunity for me to grow in Him.  Timothy was experiencing incredible difficulties in his work in Ephesus.  Being one in urban ministry I can appreciate his experiences and understand his desire to throw in the towel.  Even more so as we walked the path of Leukemia there were times that I felt like I simply could not continue.  However it was at those moments that God provided Paul’s in my life, to uphold me in prayer, wisdom and love.  It creates an interesting cycle.  As one fans into flame the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit enables us to guard the very relationship that fans into flame the gift.  “What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”  2 Timothy 1:13-14

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This Update appears permanently on the “What’s up with the Guidry’s Page”

May 2016 Update

So what have the Guidry’s been up to??

This has been a year of returning to ministry!  God has blessed Allana with a relatively smooth recovery.  We are learning to work with a new “normal”.  She does get frustrated that she cannot do many of the things that she used to do, or at least at the pace and in the volume that she was used to pre-Leukemia.  Summer of 2015 Allana and Sami helped run a summer program for the children of Five Points at Calvary United Methodist church along with Pastor Elizabeth Rand.  Pastor Rand has become a wonderful partner in ministry.  We ran two more ministry sessions at Calvary for children in the YMCA daycare hosted there.  The first was a Christmas play.  It was such a blessing to watch most of children participating go from absolutely unaware of the truth of Christmas to experts on the story of the birth of the Savior of the world.  It was 10 weeks of scripture, fellowship, music and just loving on the children.  The second session was a pantomime survey of the teachings of Jesus.  Originally set in 6 vignettes of His life we doubled the number of children participating in the weekly program.  Even though many of them did not take part in the actual performance it was wonderful to expand their knowledge of Jesus Christ and repeat time after time the Gospel message right through the resurrection.  Sadly this will be our last program at Calvary United Methodist.  The church will be closing in June.  Pray for us as we pursue new partnerships to continue instilling the Gospel in the hearts and minds of the children of Toledo.

Allana’s Facebook ministry for women, True Beauty has continued to grow.  It now consists of 3 groups and 60 women.  Late in 2015 Allana led the women through a 90 day spiritual, emotional and physical challenge/devotional series.  Allana was blessed with several opportunities for face to face meetings with some of the ladies.  A new addition is a group that focuses on the greater Toledo area.  The True Beauty website launched in April and in July True Beauty is holding their first Women’s Conference, Never Alone.  It will be at the Toledo Campus of Compelled Church in Holland Ohio on McCord Rd.  We are very excited about all that God is doing in the lives of True Beauty women.

Cherry Street Mission Ministries continues to be the main focus of Sam’s time.  He moved from part-time to full-time in the summer of 2015.  His work on events has given him the opportunity to engage with people from all walks of life and all Christian faith traditions.  It has been an exciting time as Cherry Street is in a time of rapid change and development.  Keep Sam, the leadership, the staff and the guests of Cherry Street in prayer as God leads them into a new tradition of growth and discipleship.

The children are all growing like weeds.  Sami if finishing up her freshman year in high school and is the tallest in the family.  She is looking forward to a summer mission trip and to Senior High Camp.  Robert returns from Korea in August much to the relief of his fiancé and will be stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.  Chayla is our quiet one.  She is a rabid reader and enjoys time online with her horse-loving friends.  We are looking forward to being grand parents for a second time as my oldest John and his wife Julie are expecting their second child in October.

Goals for this year are to incorporate and attain non-profit status for Fan Into Flame Ministries.  Under the Fan Into Flame umbrella True Beauty, a men’s ministry (potentially called Hupomone Men) and our work with children.  The common thread in all of these is that we seek to have those we serve fulfill 2 Timothy 1:6 in their lives.

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