Fan the Flames

campfireBoy do I love hiking and camping.  When the weather cools and I’m on break from teaching, I start getting the urge to get my gear out and start planning my next trip.  One of the things I enjoy most about camping is sitting around a roaring campfire in the evening.  It’s a great way to keep warm, keep the mosquitoes at bay, and keep myself occupied till it’s time to head off to sleep.  The don’t call a campfire “hiker television” for nothing.

Now, I may sound like some kind of pyromaniac, but I love the whole process of building a fire.  I gather tinder, some small twigs, and larger sticks to keep up the flames and set to work, and indeed it’s a lot of work.  If you want to keep a good fire going for several hours, you must continually feed it more fuel.  You constantly have to stoke the fire to make it grow and last.

It may appear a little ironic at first, but our faith is much like building a fire.  Feed your faith and it continues to grow.  Starve it and it will die out.  Not only that, but it seems we have outside sources intent on putting out our faith and fire for God.  The world around us is constantly trying to snuff out our ability to grow our faith with its temptations and doubt.  But God wishes for us to treat our faith much like a fragile fire.  We must tend it and care for it for it to grow.

In Paul’s writings to Timothy, we see some instruction about how to grow our faith.  Paul is thankful for the examples young Timothy has had in his life and knows that they are the reason why Timothy is strong now.  He writes:

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.  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 gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

(2 Timothy 1:5-7)

Paul reminds Timothy here to continue to grow in the faith that was passed down to him by his mother and grandmother.  He teaches him that we have a spirit of power, love, and self-control, not a spirit of fear.  In fact, we have God’s perfect love that casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).  God gave us a spirit of power as well, a power that never dies because it comes from him (Philippians 4:13).  So how do we “fan into flame” our faith for God?  Paul gives instructions on that as well.  He says:

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,”

“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

(2 Timothy 1:8, 13-14)

We are told here to hold fast to our testimony of Jesus Christ.  Be in the Word daily, continually reminding yourself of the gospel and its power.  We should be prepared to suffer for that gospel too.  It’s not good enough to just sit back and keep quiet about your faith in God.  We should be out in our world letting our light shine even if it means we suffer in the process.  Finally, we’re told to mind the sound teaching we receive from God.  Timothy received this teaching from his family and from Paul and we receive it from the study of God’s word today.  We should be allowing God’s Spirit which lives in us to convict us and to strengthen our faith.

So get out and build a fire…a fire of faith for our almighty God!

-Joe

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9 thoughts on “Fan the Flames

    1. Joe Butler

      That’s my favorite part too. When I can’t get away for a camping trip, I just build one in my fire pit in the backyard and sit out there instead.

  1. For too long now, Christians have been “force feeding” the word of God to others, and they take exception to it. Today’s world needs to hear the message in a different way. We need to find which ways work the best. In (1 Peter 3:15) we are told to be ready to give an answer for our hope…but to do so with respect. People forget the latter part of that verse!

    Live the word and will of Christ and just share what Christ has done in our personal lives. No pounding fists, no threats, and no preaching at the top of our lungs! Most people will be tuned out with this approach. Good post Joe!

    Steve

    1. Joe Butler

      I’ve always thought that the typical way we do evangelism is not working anymore in today’s world. We still do door knocking campaigns at our church and they very rarely yield what I would consider successful results. We’re even having to revamp our webpage because it is seriously dated and that is how people search for a place to worship when visiting or moving to a new area. I’m not sure why so many are against changing the way we approach evangelism as if it were changing the gospel somehow. People are still hungry for truth and we can reach them in new ways without changing the message if we’d just be willing to think outside the box.

      1. I understand things in much the same way as you do. Our church had a door knocking campaign for a long while and it was not successful. And we are in the process of seriously updating our church website now. People are more “bold” and unafraid to tell others that they don’t believe in going to a “church building” to find God. They are unaffiliated to any particular group, and find religion to be the enemy of a Godly relationship. Obviously the products of a worldly influence which they have bought into. I also agree we need to think “outside the box,” by what? How? We are beginning some new bible studies in hopes of growing the numbers a bit. The problem is how do we get the message out except to advertise it on our webpage and telling others around us about it? Attendance is a hard problem to solve…

  2. Yes, the world is changing right in front of our eyes. My inner question is always “how can I help people the most?” Few people seem to really want to know the truth and forcing it down people’s throats just turns them off. A great website could be really useful. Maybe something with helpful advice on life and pictures. Relating to people and their problems seems to work more. More people seem to turn to the Internet and if they do that, they’re looking for something that looks good or is catchy. However, we should not despair if people don’t want to accept everything we say. We can still bring each person up a little bit. Maybe they can stop complaining so much or maybe they can agree to listen to others more, be a little kinder and not in such a rush. If they get a new approach to life, perhaps they can be more open to God’s voice and His truth.

    1. Joe Butler

      All of what you mentioned is a great way to meet people’s needs right where they are at that moment. It’s difficult to speak about God to someone who is struggling financially or someone going through marital problems. It’s hard for them to see past those very real, physical pains and try to listen to someone talk about spiritual matters. I believe that’s why Jesus made it a point to say that we should love our neighbor as well as love God. We can’t just pray that God will take care of them physically. He has given us the job of meeting the needs of those we see hurting around us. If I have blessings far above what I really need, am I hoarding those things or am I using them to bless others in a way that shows them Jesus? That’s a question we should all be asking of ourselves.

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