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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Outdoor fireplace
Our outdoor fire last night.

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"Fan Into Flame"

"I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God" (2 Timothy 1:5,6).

Last night we gathered around an outdoor fire in our backyard. I suppose since my Boy Scout days in the mid-sixties I have enjoyed outdoor fires and Brooksyne enjoys them as well. Although it was still warm last night I gathered broken branches across the road from our house and started a fire. We expect to enjoy these times talking around the fire all throughout the fall!

As I sat and stared into the fire it brought back a remembrance of a verse that I committed to memory early in my Christian walk.  In fact one of the very first sermons I ever preached was based on this passage, in part due to the phrase, "fan into flame."  Last night's fire, because of the design of the fireplace, as well as the dry, dead kindling-type wood really needed no fanning.  But I recall when I went camping, getting up early in the morning and throwing some wood on the embers of the fire from the night before and fanning it into a hot flame.

Yesterday I received a note from Doug Matangelo, a young man who grew up in one of the churches I pastored. He is presently studying at Moody Bible Institute.  He informed me that he was taking Greek so for Doug (and all who may read this) I'll give a little Greek background.

The key word is "anazopuro" which is in the present active indicating a continuing action.  The sense is to stir up smoldering embers into a living flame. A study Bible makes this note: "Gifts are not given in full bloom, they need to be developed through use." 

Other Bible versions vary slightly in the way they translate this word. The NASV states, "kindle afresh", the Amplified uses the phrase, "stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning)" while the KJV merely states "stir up", which reminds me of when I would take a long stick and stir up the fire early in the morning!

Paul is urging Timothy to a necessary spiritual discipline. In the course of life the fire can burn down a bit (or at times a lot!) due to people rejecting our message, disappointments, setbacks, etc.   We need to continually be mindful of this and keep fanning into flame the gift of God. Elsewhere Paul writes in Holy Scripture, "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11). The phrase "spiritual fervor" literally means "in spirit burning."

Many years ago Keith Green wrote a song with this line:
Oh Lord please light the fire, that once burned bright and clear.
Replace the lamp of my first love, that burned with holy fear.

Today Brooksyne and I want to serve the Lord with renewed zeal and keep the fire burning in our hearts so that we are continually on fire for Christ as we serve Him. We urge each reader to do the same!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, I consider the depth of one's faith and how far-reaching it can be when fleshed out in one's life.  Timothy came into faith due to the influence of a godly grandmother and a devoted mother.  He himself was fully committed to Your cause. As we stay in communion with You through prayer and Your Holy Word would You keep the flame burning in our hearts so that not only our present but also our future generation will know You personally. May the light of Your Word be revealed through our message and lived out in our actions. May it be vibrant and inviting to others so that they will be drawn to You, Father.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Note: Stephen's mentioning his childhood days of camping out took me back to our early years of marriage where we camped out often.  We usually camped in an unpopulated forested area in Northern Pennsylvania.  I recall how hard it was for me to fall asleep at night which made it extra difficult to awaken early in the morning.  But the whiff of a raging fire and the popping sounds of kindling being sucked into a raging flame would make it so inviting to crawl out of the tent and sit around the ring of fire.  A cup of coffee in my hand and I was ready for another day of hiking and exploring.   Twenty five years later, it's not as easy for us to get snug and comfortable in a tent, but sitting around a fire makes me think about doing so again!

Yesterday's photo was taken at Acadia National Park in Maine. Interestingly (and not surprisingly) several readers guessed US west coast locations. The coast of Maine, especially above Portland is absolutely beautiful.  The photo was taken by Greg Schneider, a professional photographer and self-described lighthouse chaser. I spoke to Greg yesterday and he is going to get some more photos to me from a recent trip through the Northeast. He is pleased that his photos are a blessing to others through this internet site.

Technical note: Yesterday several wrote and said they couldn't view the photos on yesterday's message.  The website was cutting in and out several times in the afternoon. The photos are not in the email but on the website so even if you get the message it still needs the website up to show the photos. Also several ISP's have you choose to see the photos and by default turn them off.

A sure sign of pending Autumn!

Today's music:

I was unable to find an online audio of the Keith Green song, "Oh Lord, You're Beautiful". Keith Green died 25 years ago this summer in a plane crash. He was among my favorite musicians as a young Christian. Among the many mysteries of providence I have experienced in life is seeking to understand why the Lord took him home early.

Oh Lord please light the fire, that once burned bright and clear.
Replace the lamp of my first love, that burned with holy fear.

I wanna take Your Word and shine it all around,
But first help me, just to live it Lord!
And when I'm doing well, help me to never seek a crown,
For my reward is giving glory to You

"Let The Flame Burn Brighter" (Audio) Graham Kendrick

Yesterday I came across an online version of old hymn that has always mightily blessed me. "Hallelujah, What a Savior!" (Audio)  I wonder if we'll sing this song in eternity!!!  (I don't know who the musicians are.)

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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