Fanning Flames

By: Marcy Barthelette

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. II Timothy 1:6

My family has a long history with fire, most of which has been productive and enjoyable, and that’s the perspective I’m approaching here. Ken joined scouting at age eleven where camping, and thus campfires, were a quintessential component of the program. I think his childhood experience gave him a head start on building a fire, but scouting refined his skills and taught him how to use fire productively, for warming the body and cooking. You know, basic survival skills.   

The two of us, along with our kids, have spent many a night in the woods and, of course, our careers in the recreation business provided no shortage of fodder for stories. Where best to share them? Around the campfire, naturally. But first, we’ll need a fire. We gather small dried sticks and leaves. Sometimes we bring a newspaper to help start our flame. With these, we build a base, add larger sticks, and finally logs. Ken prefers the pyramid or teepee style while I like a crisscross pattern. Either way works fine. The key to our fire is that all materials are dry and that adequate air can flow through. Once your fire is laid, you can exercise your primal instincts by rubbing sticks together, striking metal on flint or just do as we do and bring along dry matches or a propane lighter.

Once the fire is blazing well, it will be necessary to tweak it periodically to redirect air and add the necessary fuel. It will be hungry. I’ve found that I can really enjoy a small but consistent fire. However, many folks thrive on giant bonfires. On our annual retreat each year when we join a friend in her timeshare cabin, we have to compromise a bit. She loves a mass of flame while I am content having red hot coals topped with minimal flaming. Whatever type of flame you prefer, a campfire or a fireplace requires work to keep it going. My husband often reminds me that a fire needs fuel, air, and a heat source to burn, but I subscribe there is a lot more work to it than that. I do, however, find the work exhilarating and the result quite relaxing.

Fire in its base form provides heat to warm us and cook our food as well as certain aesthetic advantages. But what about the fire that lives within us, the one that begins with a tiny spark when we first hear about a man called Jesus. How does that flame grow and flourish without the proper amount of fuel, in the form of study, and air, the rest that restores us, and let’s not forget the heat source, daily contact with the one who breathed life into us. Study, rest, and prayer are a necessary combination but there’s another crucial component. Sharing the light of the flame with others. There is a song with a wonderful message and I’ll just quote its chorus:

Carry your candle, run to the darkness, seek out the hopeless, deceived and poor. Hold out your candle for all to see it. Take your candle and go light the world.

This is our mission on earth, to shine the light of Jesus, wherever we are, to whomever we meet. We can’t make anyone follow, it’s a personal decision, but we can light the way.

This topic of faith flame has been on my Lenten schedule for weeks and this past Sunday Pastor Dennis spoke with fire in his belly about revival, the historic line of revivals at Asbury Seminary and the current one, just ended, which drew tens of thousands of the curious faithful and others who were just curious. And maybe they found answers they didn’t even know they were looking for. Smaller movements like this are happening all over America.

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come…..He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Luke 3:16 (portion omitted)

The world we live in is very much at a fiery crossroads, the larger portion denying God. What will we do to fan the flames of Christianity? Where will we shine our light? How will we show others what God wants for all His people? He wants us all in His camp, gathered ‘round the fire together. And, oh, the stories He can tell if we’ll only listen

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