Soul Fire

I watched her collecting twigs.  She gathered them diligently and then sat down at the fire ring carefully building a pyramid of sticks.  It was the beginning of a nice fire and I told her so.  But she replied, “I don’t have time to build a big fire, I just want to feel the heat now.”  It was 37 degrees and the sun had just set so warmth was a definite need.

IMG_2944She grabbed some dryer lint from our fire supplies and torched the twigs.  They burned big and bright and put off some great flames and heat…for a about a minute.  Her disappointment grew before the last ember faded. A cool breeze tossed the papery white ashes across the campsite leaving no evidence a fire ever existed, just moments before.

IMG_2941We talked about fires and to really feed a fire it needs to be built in stages until the base is hot enough to catch the harder, bigger, solid wood. Then not only does the flame last but the heat that it gives off will continue to give off warmth long after the flames die because the embers of a hardwood continue to give off heat for hours.

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As we talked we rebuilt the fire and eventually with time and patience and the proper fuel had a fire for smores, supper and snuggling long into the night.  The next morning she was able to add some bark and pine needles with a few small sticks to the still warm embers from the night before.  In no time she had created a lovely morning fire.

It made me think about our faith journeys and what it takes to ignite our passion and walk with the Lord.  We need fuel.  If we slack off and cool down the embers of our faith, they are much harder to rekindle.  The fuel we use to build and grow our knowledge and faith in Christ needs to be constant.  A diet of light twigs such as feel good teachings with a big flourish but little substance will not keep us stoked and on fire for the Lord.

The fire th101_9424at fuels our souls has to be more than just kindling. To be strong in our faith we need to look to the Pillars of Faith.  Those teachers that stood the test of time who lived and died sold out to God.  We need to dig deeply into the word of God and feed on its truth’s.  We need to go regularly to the foot of the cross.

Tossing in some spiritual feel good fluff now and then to fan the flames isn’t a problem as long as the balance of our diet is the solid teaching and truths that will sustain us long after the kindling turns to ash.

Soul Fire Starter Recipe:

15 Minute Tune Up

  • Be still for 2 Minutes
  • Be Thankful for 2 minutes
  • Be Quiet for 2 minutes
  • Be in the word for 5 minutes
  • Be prayerful 4 minutes

Camp Fire starter Recipe:

  • Cardboard Egg Carton or paper Dixie cups
  • Dryer Lint
  • Wax (old candles)

Fill the the containers with dryer lint then pour melted wax over top of the dryer lint.  Sprinkle a little more lint on top to float on the surface.  Cool.  Place in fire build over top and light the fire starter.  It will burn for approximately 15 minutes.

Point to Ponder: What have been good fire starters for you when you’ve hit a cool spot in your faith? How have you gotten your faith journey back on track? Share it with us

ACTION!  Congratulations Lisa from Grove City on winning our April contest.  Our May contest will feature some campfire fun for the family.  Winner will be drawn June 1st.  So leave a comment and sign up to enter!

Frozen : The Lenten Challenge

We drive through the crowded parking lot, mountains of gray snow at the edges hogging up much needed DSC_0277spaces.  Rachel says, “look at that disgusting snow its so gross and dirty. I am so ready for spring. I hate wearing coats, hats and gloves.” 

Quietly I pray for a new layer to cover up the gray.  White to cover the black.  It was Ash Wednesday. I thought of the significance.  It was the ashes on the plowed lot that made the snow mountains gray and dirty.  Ash mixed with winter white.

Our denomination doesn’t celebrate Ash Wednesday but my Methodist roots and the Catholic neighborhood I grew up in filled me with memories and meaning of what that day commemorates.  Like advent…it is a time of preparing our hearts.

It’s been a long winter here in Western PA.  I heard someone say the other day it had been a long winter in her heart. blog heart ice

Ironically one of the hit movies this year is called Frozen.  I pondered all these icy metaphors and thought about the cold heart.

DSC_0260Like the tiny shoots of grass and daffodils beneath the layer of snow, the cold heart harbors tiny invisible seeds of hope.  What does it take to melt a cold heart?

Love. Forgiveness. Grace. Mercy.

These are all things we can give or offer to someone who  is frozen

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People ask “What are you giving up for Lent?”  I ponder is it really about giving something up or pouring something out?   What if we use the 40 days to try to thaw the frozen hearts around us? Bathe their hearts in the warmth of mercy. If they are brittle from bitterness … foster them with forgiveness.  Love the lonely and wrap the stumbling with grace.  Take a 40 day challenge to thaw the frozen.  What will you give up for lent?  A bit of yourself?  A bit of your time?

Is your heart the one that is Frozen?  Are you chilled to your soul, unable to pray, seek or ask?  Are you wrestling with the ashy dirty feeling of sin, fear, or regret?  Are you brittle from reaching out and being rejected? Are the windows of your soul frosted up ~ blocking out the SON ?  Do you long to bathe in the warmth of … something…anything?

James 4:8  “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

Take a 40 day challenge to thaw your frozen heart. Write one thing each day that you are thankful for. Do one small kind gesture for someone else. A smile, open a door, … gratitude will help thaw the edges.

Comment to me or message me and I will commit to pray for you during lent. Let it go.  Allow God to resurrect your life before Easter Sunday.  Are you up for the challenge? Your Creator is waiting to make your story HIStory and your time of testing, your Testimony. Remember, you were worth dying for…that is what Easter is really all about.

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One of my favorite Easter Hymns: For Those Tears I Died.

You said You’d come and share all my sorrows,
You said You’d be there for all my tomorrows;
I came so close to sending You away,
But just like You promised You came there to stay;
I just had to pray!

And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My side,
I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied;
I felt ev’ry teardrop when in darkness you cried,
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I
died.”

Point to Ponder: Seek out the Frozen. Look in the mirror. Is your soul ready for spring?DSC_1006


 

 

 

Mirage – Tasting sand or tears?

Still working on my class about Connecting with our Creator through his creations and I am exploring how the Bible mentions weather as teacher and consequence.  While looking at an old homeschooling resource about weather, I stumbled on a section on mirages.

 “A mirage is defined as: a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced (distorted) image of distant objects or the sky.

It is a real optical phenomenon which can be captured on camera, since light rays actually are refracted to form the false image at the observer’s location. What the image appears to represent, however, is determined by the interpretive faculties of the human mind.” (yeah its wiki but its right and in plain English)

“Peary could clearly see the mountain tops of “Crocker Land” across the polar ice pack, but it was only an Arctic Mirage.” (Copyright Lee Krystek, 1998)

Looking at images of mirages and reading stories about people fooled by them, either in the deserts, on mountain tops or even on deserted highways, something sparked in my mind.

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To have a mirage you must have heat and pressure.  Satan dwells in hell which is a hot place.  How often does he use a “mirage” of sorts to make something sinful or wrong seem acceptable? The father of lies  turns up the heat and distorts our view pressuring us to stumble.

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This happens when we take our eyes off where God wants us to be like when we don’t seek him before we leap into a new direction, relationship or ministry. 

A mirage may fool us into believing  that person seems way more kind and Godly than our spouse, that promotion way more lucrative, that opportunity way more inviting.  Perhaps the mirage makes us think that movie or TV show or that music is way less offensive and vile.

We are tricked into a distorted image of reality.  But we are ripe for it, if we’ve let our vision stray from the truth and the source of light – God.  Even NOBLE deeds can be mirages if they are NOT in accordance with God’s plan for our lives. Pursuing them, leads to disobedience.

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And like a thirsty soul in the desert uses his last bit of strength to fall hard over the hill to the oasis below, we fall hard into sin and the lies of Satan.  And for us, just like that thirsty soul, the reality is ugly when we hit the bottom and see the miragefor what it really is – a lie.  Heartbroken the desert dweller gasps sand and we who’ve broken God’s heart and possibly the hearts of others taste the salt of our own tears.

Point to Ponder:  Are you sucking in sand or tasting salty tears due to chasing a mirage?  What steps do you need to take to for a reality check. How can you fix your eyes on the true source of light?

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Wind of HOPE

Recently our town was buffeted by winds of more than 40 MPH for several days. As I lay in bed waiting for the roof to be ripped off, I thought when will it tire? How much wind is there?

This wind was relentless it just kept coming as if the supply was infinite.

I looked outside and could not see the wind during the day or night.

The wind was invisible but the results the next morning were tangible. Recycling bins had toppled spewing forth plastics from blocks away. Branches and sticks laden with buds were strewn across the yards  like tombstones marking the death of the tender leaves that would never see spring.

Hope is like that. You can’t see it with your eyes or touch it with your hands. But hope or the lack of it leaves tangible evidence. It is amazing that the presence or lack of something so intangible can be so significant in our lives.

Martin Luther said, “Until a person experiences suffering, he cannot know what it means to hope.”

What does the Bible say about hope? In Hebrews 6:19 the NKJV it says:

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil…

The Bible refers to HOPE as our anchor, but what’s more, it says that HOPE allows us to enter into the presence of God. Since the Lord’s presence is where all the treasure and life-giving, life-sustaining power is – that is where we need to be. We need to maintain our hope.
Herman Melville said, “Until we learn that one grief outweighs a thousand joys, we will not know what Christianity is trying to make us.”

Worse than whatever pain we are dealing with or crisis we are experiencing is that hopelessness that comes with a sense that there is no purpose or value to the pain.


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Sorrow can cause our prayers to cease. We begin to doubt and ask “How can a good God allow anything so bad?”

Sometimes in these situations, holding on to hope requires that we let go of EVERYTHING else.

The Bible records several examples of prayers that were not answered the way the petioner hoped. First, we have the family of Lazarus who prayed he would not die. He died. But Jesus eventually raised him from the dead, giving GOD bigger Glory and building the faith of many. We have Paul who prayed fervently 3x to have the “thorn in his side” removed. It never was, yet this man went on to have a successful ministry and his perseverance has given countless Christians hope. Then we have Jesus, the son of God, who prayed to have “the cup removed” from him prior to his death. It was not removed. God allowed his son to be tortured and killed which resulted in our Salvation and eternal life.

So when we are enduring, it really might not be about us. It could be about giving others HOPE to endure and believe in a God who’s strength they see lived out as we walk out our grief.

How do we hold on to our hope when the storm comes? I believe it has a lot to do with what we do when times are good. Building our relationship with Christ through daily prayer and study of His Word creates a foundation with deep roots which can anchor us when the storms come.

“In my deepest wound, I saw your glory and it dazzled me.” ~ Augustine

No one could probably relate more to deep wounds than Joseph in the Old Testament. Few innocents endured more pain and suffering than Joseph. He was sold, beaten, imprisoned, falsely accused, and imprisoned again. But his twelve years of trials put him in a position where he could spare a nation from starvation AND bless his own family. There are no pity parties recorded as he faced his trials.

One of my favorite Hymns is “It is Well with My Soul” the story behind it is amazing. Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy businessman who lost his only son to illness and then much of his wealth in a fire in Chicago. He and his family scheduled a trip abroad to recover from their heartbreak. His wife and four daughters set sail before him. The ship they were sailing on was broadsided by a tanker and sunk within ten minutes. The cable he received from his wife said, “Saved Alone”. It was on his way to his wife that he passed the spot in the sea where his four daughters perished – and there above the dark waters during the darkest of his days he penned the words:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Why was Horatio able to withstand such tragedy?  He was connected with the Creator. We grow relationships by interacting. The relationship with our Creator is also forged by interaction. Daily interaction in the form of prayers and study of his word, helps us form a foundation that is not easily shaken.

He becomes our anchor and what we tether ourselves to when the storm hits.

Point to Ponder: What are you tethered to? Where do you place your hope? When the storm comes, will you be ready?

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