Fire Keeping

We like camping. There is nothing like the great outdoors. We enjoy the Mohican Forest and River area. We like listening to the river in the quiet of the evening. I have seen geese flying up the river in formation and I have seen bald eagles with their regal wing span and grace. It is a time of unwinding and soul keeping.

One of the pleasures of camping is the campfire. Starting a campfire is a challenge sometimes if you do not have the proper equipment or the wood is damp or wet. You can start it with the council fire set up or the teepee set up, but the kindling in the initial phase is crucial to getting the logs burning. I mostly take a short cut with some modern aides like starter logs and starter fluid. (I have on occasion used gasoline with a starter trail poured in the grass to a safe distance. Not recommended) Once the fire is started we enjoy the flames dancing, the various colors of the flames, and the warmth provided to take the chill off the evening. It is a great place for conversation and stories, or just quiet contemplation.

But, after a while, you must tend the fire, move the logs for better air or closer to one another to aid the fire strength. Then comes the point when you have to add more logs to keep the fire going. It is now ready for marshmallows or s’mores. If you let the fire burn down to hot coals, you can cook over the fire and then bring it back to a blaze.

Jesus said that he would baptize us in the Holy Spirit and Fire. There has been ample thoughts and explanations as to what the baptism in fire is. I am not sure if we will totally understand that part. However, fire keeping is an important part of our Christian walk. What can I do to keep the fire going? We talk about people being on fire for God. That means that they are excited and active in their expression of love and commitment to the Lord. We also say that the flame has gone out when we see someone dropping out, not communicating, questioning their faith, doubting God.

We like to see people on fire for God. They are contagious; we are warmed by their enthusiasm, we are challenged by it, we catch fire too sometimes.

Fire keeping means we do something to keep our love alive for God. We tend it so we do not lapse into mediocrity and die. We tend the fire of God so that we are not found lukewarm and become disgusting to our Lord.

Tending the fire is extremely important. You keep the fire alive in your walk with God through several avenues. One of those avenues is investing in others. As long as you are sharing your walk with someone, you are strengthened and the fire is tended. Attending church, a conference, a rally, some large event of Christians like a concert will stir the flames. Personal study, reflection, and prayer fans the flames as well. Corporate worship, actively entering in through song and voice, will allow the Spirit within to burn up in you. Reaching out to serve those in need, caring for the lonely, the shut in, the elderly, the babies, the children will touch the heart of God and add the logs of continued fire into your being.

-Pastor BillIMG_2549

Metrics: The Way We Measure

Metrics: The way things are measured, evaluated.

There are sciences that are fairly standard and measuring is standardized across the board. An inch is an inch and there is a standard, an official inch that is in the Bureau of Weights and Measures. When you pump gas, you will notice the sticker that it has been checked to be correct so a gallon of gas is really a gallon of gas. It is there to make sure you are not cheated. The Bible even talks about cheating measures and weights. So, in math you are sure that two plus two works every time. We learn math tables and they work in any country. The standardization of facts and measures is what makes science so logical and trustworthy most of the time.

However when it comes to measuring human performance, measuring becomes difficult. Metrics can change or be defined differently. Metrics can be established by consensus, by committee, by social pressures. For instance, we have a nation that has become formed by pressures of tolerance and relativism. Politically correct has become a force that chips away at everything, judges everything, perverts everything. This metric is making life difficult for everyone. Sensitivities are made extreme and everyone says they are offended when the least slight is expressed, many times unintentionally. In human circles, people in the same room can be working with entirely different sets of metrics.

The church world has the same problem. There are several different measures that are applied. Measures of numbers, finances, growth, properties, etc. are applied to churches. By what or by whom are we measured?

During this time of reflection and reaching for the reset button, I came to realize that the metrics, the measures that I had been reaching for were not the ones I had started with. Somewhere in the years, a subtle, persistent change had taken place. The joy of salvation was eroded and robbed. The idealism of ministry was replaced by the competitiveness of church life. Even the church members had lapsed into pettiness, bickering, territorialism, and missed the essentials.

I realized that I needed to return to the core values, the core metrics of the Bible, the words of Jesus, His mandate. He could have had crowds larger than he did. He could have stayed in Capernaum and had the largest church in the middle east. They wanted him to stay, to build a miracle tabernacle. He said he had to be about Father’s business. Obviously, Father’s business was not the way the world worked. Father’s business was building the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven. This kingdom reached everyone, particularly, the “deplorables.” To return to Bible metrics means returning to the love of God, the love of people. It means souls first, always first. It means reaching out to care and serve. Care and serve, not as a program, but as one who cares for the person.

-Pastor Bill