From the Pastor – September 2018

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God. 2 Timothy 1:6a

Summer is my favorite time of year, and this summer has been no exception. I hope that your summer has been everything you have hoped for! My family has hiked to a number of the local waterfalls. We finally put a boat in the water and explored the Apostle Islands.
My children learned how to sail. We explored the beaches when the water was good for swimming. We try to turn camping into an artform by bringing only what we need but being prepared for everything. It makes a person feel wonderful to get some sunshine and exercise. The outdoor endeavors of summer provide exercise that leads me to believe we are in our best
physical shape right now.

One of the art-forms of camping is building a good campfire. Every time I get a chance to start new one, I challenge myself to have a good roaring, crackling fire with one match and only use natural materials. It takes careful selection of dry materials, good tinder, standing up the fuel- at just the right rate, and a steady whisper of wind never hurts! Rekindling a fire is a whole different endeavor. Even fires that look to be out all night still have a good deal of heat hidden in the coals and ash. However, the fuel, air, and heat no longer have opportunity to make it burn. It just takes
carefully reorganizing the materials and heat with a good blow in just the right place to get a
fire going again!

I hear people tell me that although they are in the best physical shape at the end of summer, they
feel they may not be in the best spiritual shape. They have spent all kinds of time hiking,
swimming, and exploring. All this adventure sure helps shrink the waistline and lower the blood
pressure! But, I hear people say they may feel distant in their connections with friends at home or
church and the faith that they hold dear. They also they miss the relationships at church and
relationship with God.

The good news is faith really is like building a camp- fire. Sometimes faith is strong life a
hotly burning campfire. You know the kind: not only does the fire roar and snap and crackle, but you can also hear the sap coming out of the wood to burn. We love it when our faith warms the very soul! At other times, faith is more subdued in our lives. Like the campfire that is no longer blazing, but it still gives a good heat to roast a marshmallow. And, at other times maybe the flames have all but gone out in our spiritual lives. Sometimes we feel like yesterday’s fire.

Faith goes through stages in our lives. And, it is yesterday’s fire that the Apostle Paul is speaking to in Timothy’s life. Paul and Timothy has worked together, traveled together, and served God in exhilarating ways. They had drifted apart. But that friendship, just like faith, never goes out- even if it feels like yesterday’s fire. With opportunity and careful reorganization of priorities, the fire springs right up! God never loses faith in you. God never leaves. You can trust in God’s faithfulness.
There are ways to keep the fires well stoked. I think the reason fires burn down is that we just forget to stoke them! Faith takes intentional tending just like our campfires. We forget what we enjoy most about our time with God. So, here is my recommendation- spend some time in mediating on what makes you feel closest to God. Consider when you have experienced the most living of faith. Then, write these things down in a safe place. Keep this where you can find it when times are more trying. Remind yourself of God working in you and around you. Use this to fan into flame the gift of God within you.

Grace and peace,