Staying aflame in Christ - Printable Version

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Staying aflame in Christ - DeanZF - 11-27-2007

We had an interesting service this past Sunday. We were singing "He Shall Reign" (by Don Moen, I think) and as we sang one particular line, it jumped off the screen at me. I had to share with the congregation. Don't know if it was a "word of the Lord" or just a word of exhortation; really can't say. And it's not like it's a new revelation, but it was powerful for the day and had an additional application later in the day that I think all extravagant worshippers need to hear. So it's here to hear. :lol:

The line in the song was "He’s appointed us to do His will with hearts aflame." I know that I've used the analogy and have heard the analogy I'm about to share many, many times in a Christian, congregational context, so bear with me if it's not new to you, but do hear it afresh.

It's very difficult for us to keep our "hearts aflame" as found in this song. Romans 12:11 has a similar phrase. "Fervent in spirit" or "aglow in spirit" and other such translations. Strongs equates "fervent" to "boiling (as of water)", so this is not a romantic, songwriter's hook, this is a God thing. God evidently thinks that it's important enough to mention at least once, so we ought to at least give at least one ear, yes? <EMOJI seq="1f607">:innocent:</EMOJI>

I have a terrible time staying enthusiastic about congregating, at times. When I feel under-utilized, when I get my feelings hurt, when I feel under-fed...there are LOTS of reasons that my personal little ember dwindles, that my flame is nearly extinguished. And there are lots of reasons that can happen, but those are for a different post. The deal here is that if we think of ourselves as individual lumps of charcoal for a second and realize that it's precious difficult for one coal to burn brightly and for long enough to produce effect! God told us not to forsake the gathering of ourselves together. He had cause for that: a bed of coals will sustain the heat of each coal far longer than any coal can sustain itself! And we all know about three-stranded cords being vastly superior in strength to single-stranded cords.

The point of the Sunday word was that we need to realize the power source we have in the body and to huddle together so that our embers can be aflame with the fanning of the Spirit, not by our own strength. I can fan and fan and fan myself, but then I use up all of my energy and tire myself beyond usefulness just getting myself fanned back to flame! If we come together and we all do our "job" of submitting to the Holy Spirit, He will breathe on us and cause us to be far brighter flames (saltier salt, wetter water) than we could ever be on our own.

And in this season when "the world" is trying desperately to quench the Reason for the season, don't we have an even great responsibility not to fall prey to their traps? Our answer to the "happy holiday" greeting should be Merry Christmas to known believers and suspected non-believers, and Happy Hannukkah to known practicing Jews and Messianics. There is POWER in our words. We do NOT want our light or our Light being snuffed out, and it's up to us to do something about it!

The word was well-received. The children's sermon was scrapped and pastor used the kids and acted out the gathering of the coals together. He referred to the word throughout his sermon which was about living the Christian life. Several folks gave thanks for a word that touched them personally. That tells me that it was a good word, whatever type of word it was.


I think that this has a particularly pungent message for us. I am of the opinion that most folks who are of any artistic bent at all are that way because they are willing to experience their emotions and willing to let their emotions be seen through their artistic medium. That also makes us particularly vulnerable, IMO, to all sorts of negative things including bouts of depression, severe reactions to what people say or imply about what it is we do artistically and even with the rest of our lives. I also think that we tend to be too introspective, too often. Introspection is not a bad thing so long as we can use it to build what it is that HE wants.

I know that God has invested a lot of things in me. At one time, my musical skills were well honed and could be used for all sorts of things in the kingdom. My trombone has sat silent for about 8 years at this point. Occasionally I get really sad about that. My arranging skills are really rusty. Even my skills on my wind synth are rusty. I can't sight read like I once could and without a lot of practice, my playing is frankly a bit sloppy on anything of speed. That ALL saddens me. Fifteen years ago or so, I was really in a pit over the whole thing. I was deeply concerned that the things He had given were being squandered. I spent several days in a friend's house, with a woman who was a mighty prophet of God. She gave a word to EVERYONE IN THE HOUSE EXCEPT ME!!! I hurt. Heck, even GOD has given up on me because I've been so squandered. Yoy Yoy Yoy!!! She was in the area to do a women's retreat. I was desperate. I showed up (as an invited guest) for lunch at the retreat, one of only two or three men in the room of about 150 or so women. She called me out, not knowing why I was hurting on a personal level, but could see in my eyes that there was hurt. And she prophesied that I would not be wasted or squandered. She prophesied a LOT of stuff, but that was the most important. It set in motion a lot of rethinking and "retooling" of who I am and what sorts of things I do and why. It also put something else in place for me.

We artistic sorts need to be gathered together as coals of our own particular type. That is revelation to lots of artists until they think about why and then it makes perfect sense. No one understands the hurts of a hurt dancer like a dancer who has been hurt and who has healed some. No one understands an abused musician like another artist who has seen abuse or been abused. No one really understands the artistic members of the body except other artists. They can't; it's simply not possible because they have not walked an inch in our shoes. They don't understand sacrifice in the same way that we walk it out. They don't understand the pain of criticism because it really is not the same for a non-artistic person as it is for artists of any rank. Neither can they celebrate artistic success with us because they really can't comprehend it!

As I shared this with Helena, we both realized that in an electronic sense, this forum is a place where the extravagant worship artists can gather their embers together. We can talk about hurts and hurrahs. We can comfort each other in ways that only we can understand. We can also usually speak frankly about our art with a critical eye that is often more accepted than the eyes of those who are not artistic. Part of that is because we are aware of the hurts and take measures to distinguish between the art and the person. Part of that is because there is a perception among caring artists that the goal is to improve, not simply to bring negative criticism to the table. That's part of maturity, but it's also part of recognizing and nurturing the artistic soul.

It's also good for us to find faces and shoulders to fellowship with. I LOVE the electronic communications, but sometimes, I really need a hug and a voice to say, "Nice try, but what would have happened if you had...?" Or to see a "thumbs up" with a grin and a verbal "attaboy!" We really can't do enough of that with our cyber-group.

I shared some of this with our music worship leader on Sunday, and I think there may be some times coming soon when we can indeed just get together outside the church context to sit and gab a bit, maybe with a couple of the other artistic sorts in the congregation to see if there is hope for that locally.

What do YOU think??