Posts Tagged ‘refiner’s fire’

Duped by our circumstances, our relative comfort, our culture, we are missing a reality that God is offering. For us, for human, that life appears like a paradox where loving an enemy is the norm and humility is the paradigm.

Revelation 3:17-18a
You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire . . .

I have been intrigued by the “refiner’s fire” for some years. In fact, I remember when it started, at a Sunday School class. I remember we were talking about Solomon and the completion of the Temple [see II Chronicles 7] when the fire came down, consumed the offerings and then the Glory of the Lord filled the Temple. No one could enter for a time. This appeared to be a consuming fire, but it was really a cleansing fire. Everything of value remained. It was a distinguishing fire.

This is the same Refiner’s Fire that God promises to use on us. And like all of the seemingly self-contradictory statements in the scriptures, this fire will not destroy us either.

If we want to see beyond the every day, if we want to see God in our midst, if we want to enter into the mysteries of God, then we have to accept the refiner’s fire. It’s a leap of faith because this fire may consume the things we have held onto for years, our “things” that have given us a semblance of security.

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Chicken or the egg: I come near to God first or God comes near to me? It’s a circle for a reason, there is no beginning or end to God-nearness.

James 4:8
Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Brian McLaren, in his latest book, Naked Spirituality: a life with God in 12 simple words, uses the word “here” to begin his journey with God: “I am here, God is here, I am here with God.” This is how I imagine mutual nearness, like a dance or a mirror exercise in which no one can tell who is leading, who is following. It’s a unity.

And when I have awareness of God-nearness, I am also quickened. I see myself more clearly, I see places within me that are not connecting, like sunspots, they are of a different heat but the wrong kind of intense activity. They are my inner Adam and Eve hiding in the garden [Genesis 3:8-10].

It is only when I am near that I can understand and see what needs to be purified, what needs to be cleansed. There is cleansing by water, this removes the surface problems, the obvious issues, this is relatively easy and although it may take time, it is not particularly painful.

But the second, the purification of the heart, this is the inner cleansing and there is no quick fix to sins of the heart. The deeper they are stored, the more intense the process.

As I prayed over this passage, the old song came immediately to mind, Refiner’s Fire, my heart’s one desire is to be holy. Like purifying gold, there must be fire. This is not some fiery hell at all, it’s white fire, it’s holy, it’s laser specific, it’s the power of God released into the heart of the matter.

They say mothers no longer remember the pain of childbirth once the child is born: the wonder of the living outshines the suffering. So it is with the cleansing fire of God.

If I want to be close, then I have to be willing to be transparent and clear.

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Photo by J P Shuler

First, Paul chastised Timothy for “neglecting the gift” he was given through the laying on of hands and now, with the second letter, he goes one step further and charges him to be more active, to “fan the flame.”

II Timothy 1:6
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.

Apparently, it’s possible to kindle and even ignite the gift that is within us. Paul adds three words that must be part of this combustible process: power (that would be the Holy Spirit), love (that would be the Holy Spirit), and self-discipline (uh, in my case, the only way that would happen would be through the Holy Spirit as well).

Sometimes the Holy Spirit is spoken of as a wind [John 3:8, Acts 2:2], and sometimes fire [Luke 3:16, Acts 2:3], and anyone who has a fireplace or is building a campfire knows that you need air and an initial spark to get a fire going.

I am convinced, once again, that it’s the Holy Spirit who is critical to an authentic, passionate, and propagating faith in God and commitment to the Christ, that great mystery of all mysteries.

Come, Spirit, breathe on me. Light the fire again.

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God's Light by Max Ash

God is light [I John 1:5]; God is love [I John 4:8]. And I am offered a chance to live my life in the circle of both: light and love. I ask for God’s indwelling and both are available to me. So, why do I continue to shutter the light and edit the love? Why do I “kick against the goads?”

Ephesians 5:8-10
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.

This is the prayer that Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity would recite each day (by John Henry Cardinal Newman)

Dear Jesus,
Help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go.
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly,
that my life may only be a radiance of Yours.
Shine through me, and be so in me
that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul.

Let them look up and see no longer me,
but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as you shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others;
the light, O Jesus will be all from You;

none of it will be mine;
it will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise You the way You love best,
by shining on those around me.
Let me preach You without preaching,
not by words but by my example,
by the catching force of the sympathetic influence of what I do,
the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.

It’s a process, that’s why. It’s a daily prayer, a daily unveiling, an awareness, a practice.

I’m thinking this is more difficult alone than in a group. The whole point of fellowship with other light-minded people is to help keep the light shining, to fan the flame, to encourage the embers, to light the darkness.

“Kindle in me the fire of your love . . . ”


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when I set up one of those new Paypal accounts, before I could use it, I had to allow them to make a very small deposit into my bank account. Then, I had to keep checking my account and once I recognized it, let them know. This verified the connection. That’s how the Holy Spirit starts too.

II Corinthians 5:5
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

I think people expect the Holy Spirit to drop into their lives like a flood or a whirlwind. But truly, I think it’s just a mini-deposit. That is, until we get better at letting the Spirit have access and place in our hearts.

A true taste of the Holy Spirit is like a single bite of the most extraordinary dessert in the world. It’s sweet and multi-faceted. It’s has a taste that lasts. And most of all, it gives us a desire for more.

The mini-deposit of the Holy Spirit is a promise of what is possible, what is available, what is real.

Like the story of the mustard seed [Matthew 17:20], the things of God are so powerful that it only takes a little bit to have to great effect.

This is why one person can indeed make a difference in the world. One person among billions is no bigger than a mustard seed or a grain of sand.

I think I’ve been looking for the mega deposit, the swoosh of wind and the tongues of fire, when all along, the little mini-deposit has been sitting there, inside my heart, waiting to be acknowledged for all that it can do.

Burn brightly, sweet ember of the Lord.

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With each day that the veil of my heart is down, the more accessible and available I am for transformation and change. Isn’t that why I keep pulling the veil back up? Transformation is not easy. Old things must pass away and the new is unpredictable.

II Corinthians 3:18
And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

I have always considered myself as some kind of agent for change. It’s even part of my personal mission statement, “to inspire meaningful change . . . ” But when it’s my own change, my own transformation, I am a little more reluctant. Oh, I can change my hair, my weight, my clothes, and all the other external trappings. I can change my job and change my tasks. I can change the way I work. But in all of those things, I am in charge. I control the change.

The next step in my Journey requires a submission to the work of Holy Spirit. It’s moving into something more unfamiliar. It’s giving permission to the relationship I have with God to manifest differently.

What does it really mean to be a believer, to love God with my whole heart, soul and mind? What does it really mean to love others, to love my neighbor as myself, to love unconditionally, to the love the unlovely (an not just on a mission trip, but every day).

My theme song for many years has been, “Refiner’s Fire.” But the dross is so familiar, so comfortable, and yet so meaningless in the bigger picture.

I’m still afraid.

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One of my favorite worship songs is “Refiner’s Fire” by Brian Doerksen. It’s an invitation. Funny, so many people get hung up on “hell fire,” forgetting about “God-fire.”

I Corinthians 3:13
” . . . [the] work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.”

There are several scriptures that refer to the cleansing power of fire. I know it and I understand it and yet, when the fire comes, the testing, the trials, I’m crying bitter tears.

It’s simple really. As a Christian, I profess building my world on the foundation of the Messiah, the redeeming Christ. Anything that is built on anything else will not last. Sometimes that “anything else” is wrong motives or secret desires or lies or even denial.

When the things (ministries, churches, missions, schools, productions) humankind builds in the name of God fail, be assured, the foundation was compromised.

Some people claim it was the power of evil that broke through their plans and perhaps that’s true. But, I maintain that God is sovereign. And no power can stand against God. No, it is not God that is the problem nor Satan, that great enemy. It’s just us. We build too quickly or too soon. We are impatient beings. We are impatient believers.

I trust the fire of God. I must. I will. I do.

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