We heat our home entirely with our wood stove all winter here in Eastern Canada. This year though, it was a real struggle to get the fire roaring especially when the temperature dipped into the -20 C (-4F) range. The problem? Our wood was not well dried out. It is quite difficult to light a fire with slightly damp wood but it can be done. I’ve gotten quite good at it this winter.
You might identify with me when I say I feel like a “wet piece of firewood” spiritually speaking. Our purpose is to burn with holy and vibrant flame, but I’m somehow dampened. We are to be filled “with Holy Spirit and with fire!” Again, in Romans we’re told to “never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervour serving the Lord.”
The ideal is that we should be “dry and thirsty” like “spiritual tinder” on the alter before God. I’ve been there, but I find that is mostly not the case with me. This is why true fellowship with believers is so important for me. I have the earnest desire to burn for God, but I am often “dampened” by the world.
When lighting slightly damp wood you need to quickly establish a “critical mass” to overcome that moisture and initiate the spread of the fire. That means creating a small hot core with plenty of air flowing into it. By gathering the would into a close yet ventilated formation the hot core has an opportunity ignite more fuel wood. A wet piece of wood on its own will likely not light, but when gathered together, they each contribute to each other to actually create a viable fire that spreads and consumes all the wood. The flame spreads from smallest and driest to the larger less dry pieces. We often try to burn “on our own,” this is possible, but it is not God’s ideal for us on a long term basis. This is the reason for the fellowship of believers.
Gather the Flame:
Its time you joined yourself together with other “imperfect pieces of firewood.” You may be the “biggest” or you might be a “twig.” I have a high regard for the ” little twigs and wood chips” they are often the driest and most likely to ignite initial revival…the thing about twigs is that they won’t sustain the flame. That’s where bigger pieces come in. Do you see what I’m saying? The church is a “body” with many parts and, in a sense, it is also designed as a gathering place for the fire. If each of us, although imperfect, would be gathered together with one holy desire: to burn for God..oh what Glory that will bring God!
Lets get practical: Here’s a simple way to “gather the the flame”
1. Ask God to show you a few people to “gather the flame” with. Start with someone that is more “aflame” than you are. This is very important. This may be within your church or other trusted circles. The more of Spirit’s fire upon their life, the better. There may be several, that’s great but start with one. It doesn’t matter who they are so long as they are earnestly and humbly seeking God and the grace of God is flowing and evident in their life. From the least to the greatest. You may be a 50 year old corporate executive, yet a pauper spiritually compared to a homeless man downtown who is aflame with the fire of God. Pastors, humble yourselves. Church leaders, humble yourselves. Most often the brightest flame in a church is in the pew not the pulpit!
2. Take them out for coffee and spend a good while talking with these individuals about your earnest desire to know God and listening to their story. You may do this with several people and you will be greatly blessed by it.
3. Make a priority of meeting consistently (weekly is best) with the people God gives you. 2-6 is plenty of people. When I say gather together, I mean literally. Email,Facebook messages and phone calls should form the periphery of your weekly get togethers(men with men, women with women) Place yourself like a stick of firewood beside already “burning ones.”
4. Don’t stop there, look for other kindred hearts. Gather the flame!
5. Share testimonies of what God is doing and saying. Keep it simple. Be vulnerable. Let others correct and exhort you. Stay planted in scriptural truth. If someone has a word let them bring a word. I they have a song let them bring it. If no one has anything. Then, just pray.
6. Shut up and listen- to those who are further down the road than you. Soak it up. Note the common things that have shaped them and others. Don’t monopolize the time with simply talking about opinions.
8. Pray together- Not “My Aunt Betty needs a knee replacement” kind of prayers. That is for other meetings. Rather pray “Oh Jesus, have mercy on us, if we can’t know the fullness of you then we might as well die” kind of prayers. And don’t waste time talking about what you are going to pray about. Just pray them! Let the others back you up in prayer as the Spirit leads. Lay hands on one another and pray for each other.
9. Branch out- if God so blesses and the flame spreads, carry it to others don’t get all bottled up. Start by doing it in tandem with your orignal group of 3-6. As God fills and sets you aflame, others will most likely gravitate toward the flame in you and you will be responsible to spread it to them. That means, be prepared to engage what God is doing and be that “contagious flame” to others that are demonstrating an earnest thirst.
If you haven’t noticed, what I just described to you sounds a lot like Church. That’s because it is- Church the way it is supposed to organically grow and spread. I’m not telling you to leave your church and start your own little thing. I’m saying to be that instrument to introduce fire back into your church! Do it until they kick you out if necessary! That might mean you need to spend some time with some folks outside your church who are aflame because their isn’t any in yours. Get what I’m saying?
Its time to gather a flame and when it gets hot enough…spread it out. In the mean time as you gather the flame, grab a great Christian biography like David Brainerd, Brother Yun, Corrie Ten Boom or Amy Charmicheal. They will act as another source of flame for you in this journey.
Any other comments or tips on gathering the flame? Let me know in the comments section.