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Archive for the category “Fresh Fire”

Have Mercy On Me

Bart Millard used to listen to cassette tapes of Amy Grant and other Christian musicians on his head phones.  It was a way that he could get his mind at peace after dealing with an abusive father.  There was no peace in the Millard household.  His father was quick to squash any dreams that Bart had.  Something must have drastically altered his fathers dreams years ago and now he was all about making sure that his son didn’t fantasize with his own dreams.  Mr. Millard was a heavy drinker and wife beater.  It got so bad that Bart was sent to a camp just to get him out of harms way.  His mother loved him very much and thought that the camp experience would be a good retreat for him.  Bart was a stranger in the camp which happened to be a church camp.  One person that befriended him right away was a girl named Shannon.  Even though Bart was slow to open up to her she liked him as he was.  Camp offered Bart a disciplined different view of life than he had at home.  All of the campers were given journal books and they were required to take notes of what they learned and what was important in their view.  Studiously Bart took notes and it became a big part of his camp experience.

After the two weeks Bart came home.  Surprisingly he found that his mom was missing.  He was angry as he confronted his father as to what happened to her.  His father told Bart she wasn’t hurt and that she had left him.  Bart was devastated as his mother was the only one that he felt loved him.  Through the strained relationship with his father Bart tried to find himself.  He liked football and became good at it playing on his high school team.  However even in his glowing moments he didn’t get help from his dad.  His dad was a star player in high school and after Bart had a big game his dad was quick to squash his victory.  “How many of them did it take?”, his father asked.  Not knowing what he was asking Bart asked the question back to him.  His father was a running back when he played,  just like Bart.  He explained what he meant.  “How many did it take to bring you down?”  Bart said “Two or three, I don’t know”.  “Two or three couldn’t bring me down, It took the whole team to bring me down.”  Through all of the negative Bart still kept his football dreams alive.  That was until one play that happened near the end of the season.  Bart was running for the goal line when he was hit simultaneously by two different defenders.  The result was a broken leg and Bart was left without his football dream.

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Bart needed to be in another class because he was not able to play football.  He hobbled into the Dramatics class that first day and fielded the teachers questions.  “Can you act?” “Can you sing?”  Bart told her that he could neither act or sing but that he had to pick up a class to make up for not playing football.  His teacher said that he could be in charge of the sound then.  Bart began to love the sound position confident that he knew something about sound from his early days of loving the sound of Amy Grant and other top Christian artists.  One day he happened to have his head phones on as he was listening to a tape.  His teacher happened to walk by.  Unaware of her presence Bart was singing along to the music.  His teacher couldn’t help notice the beautiful vocals that were coming out of Bart.  When the cast for the upcoming musical Oklahoma was announced Bart was horrified to learn that he was cast for the lead.  “Oh no, there has been some kind of mistake here” Bart commented as he confronted the teacher.  She listened to all of Bart’s reason why he couldn’t do it.  The last one was that he had the broken leg.  “The play isn’t for six weeks she said.  You will be well by then.”  She informed him that he would perform in the play if he wanted to pass is class.  Through all of the disguise his teacher saw something in him that he didn’t know was there.  For that time she took the place of an encouraging parent that see’s things in their children and helps prepare them to use their gifts.  Bart didn’t have that at home and for the first time he was given hope.

The play was a great success and Bart was the star of the show!  He found his niche in his acting and singing role and everyone who watched was amazed.  One of the amazed people was Shannon (his camp friend) who was a high school classmate and Bart’s girl friend.  One person who thought he was wasting his time was his father.  One day his father was at a bar and he saw a brochure of the play and Bart’s name in the lead role.  Then he was overcome with pain and tumbled to the floor.   He found himself in the hospital and the reports were not good.  Bart’s father was suffering from cancer and he didn’t have that long to live.  Bart never knew about this diagnosis.  His father kept him in the dark and said that he was fine.  After high school Bart could not live with his father anymore.  He didn’t know where he was going but he needed to be somewhere else.  He hooked up with a band and became their sound man.  The band was missing one thing a lead singer.  Bart offered that he could help.  He mentioned that he could sing and become their voice on stage.  That is how he became the lead singer of the group.  He also formed the name of the band.  His grandmother always said to him “Mercy me Bart” when she was amazed at something he said or did.  The band became known as MercyMe.

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MercyMe was having moderate success playing to limited crowds.  With every little success Bart was living the dream.  Unfortunately his excitement with the band consumed him.  Shannon felt like she wasn’t important to Bart anymore.  She broke up with him and told him they were through.  Because of his father Bart didn’t want to let anyone know the real him.  He was afraid to dream even as he was having success.  Shannon sensed that and was very hurt that Bart’s world really didn’t include her.  He felt bad after they broke up and would call her from the road telling her how the band was doing.  Unfortunately he was always talking to her answering machine as Shannon had given up on him.  The group was fortunate enough to have an agent in the crowd one night.  He heard the sound and was somewhat impressed.  He liked what he heard but knew there was something missing.  The agent agreed to go to the next concert on the groups bus.  Once again he noticed the same thing..the music was good, the talent was there, but something was missing.  What was missing was discovered when he heard their last long.  It was a passionate song that moved the crowd to tears.  He told the group he was leaving them, but that he was leaving to find them a bigger venue and to bring some music industry heads to see them.  He also told Bart that the concert was just OK but that last song was fantastic.  “Try to sing all of your songs like that” was his advice.

Image result for bart millard mercyme early days

After the concert in the new venue Bart and the group sat in the dressing room awaiting the results.  Their agent was talking to the elite’s of the industry when Bart could not stand it anymore.  Against the wishes of the band Bart got up and disrupted the meeting.  He wanted to know what they thought.  The hard truth hit him like a brick in the back of the head.  They see hundreds of groups and to them MercyMe was nothing special.  They rated them as a local group that would never be anything more than that.  The combination of their words and the words that his father put in his head years ago was too much for Bart.  He returned to the rest of the band and told them he was through.  Maybe he was wasting his time after all.

Bart returned home to find that his father was treating him wonderfully.  Not knowing how to respond Bart let his father have it.  His father told him he had been thinking a lot about how he had lived and had been listening to a lot of christian music.  He had asked God for forgiveness.  Bart was not in the forgiving mood.  In his mind his father had destroyed his dreams and he was bitter.  Later he happened to be looking through some papers and there was the medical report on his father.  Now he knew his father was dying but the bitterness remained.  Bart was having a battle within himself that came to a climax when he found his father collapsed in the barn.  Instead of mercy he found himself with a baseball bat in his hands.  “Go ahead”, his father urged.  But slowly Bart put the bat down and helped his father up.  The act of helping his father as he put all of his weight on Bart seemed to open the door of forgiveness and mercy to Bart.  From that time until his father died Bart was his best friend.

After his father died Bart was in a state of self reflection.  He was amazed at the change that his father had demonstrated.  At the same time he realized he needed spiritual depth in his own life.  He reflected back to the time when he was at camp and took those notes in his journal.  He actually dug out his old journal and started re-living his thoughts at that time.  Page after page he noticed one line that was getting embedded in his head.  The line written numerous times in his journal was “I can only imagine.”  He got back with the band and that phrase was in the front of his mind.  He started writing a song from just that title and the words just seemed to flow.  They made a tape of the song and sent it to their agent.  Right away his agent knew they were onto something.  Bart sang the song with compassion that he had never heard before!  The agent sent it to people in high places in the industry.  Amy Grant heard the song and fell in love with it.  She wanted to do the song on her comeback tour with the groups permission.  Bart was in the audience as Amy was about to sing the song.  When the magic moment came Amy couldn’t do it.  Instead she called Bart from the stands to sing his song.  The crowd was in awe as Bart passionately sang his song that he dedicated to his father.  Deeply moved they gave him a standing ovation.  Amy gave the song back to Bart and the band and it became a number one hit on the Christian music charts along with a hit on the main stream charts too!  It was the song that launched the group MercyMe to heights nobody had imagined for them.  I Can Only Imagine was voted the number one song of the year!  They would go on to record other powerful hits because instead of just lyrics Bart was singing with a passion he had never had before.

In our christian walk like Bart we can lose the passion that we had when we first believed.  Slowly we may start questioning as the world puts their views into our minds.  The result is a dead listless doubting believer who has lost their uniqueness in the world.  Jesus addressed this problem in Matthew 5:13.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its
flavor, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing,
but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.

In Bart’s case as in many of us our salt loses it’s flavor by our lack of forgiveness.  In life there are people or circumstances that if we let them can cause a deep dark unforgiving spirit to come over us.  This is not the will of God.  He wants us to have our hearts pure so that his love can flow through us.  Everyone who listened to Bart noticed how talented he was.  However his words alone weren’t able to move people.  It was only when he let God change his heart and take away the hurt that Bart was free to express his love and compassion.  The same thing affects many of us today.  We may say all of the right words but we are not convincing.  The flow of love has been blocked by hurt, anger, and an unwillingness to forgive.  Our passion has been replaced by the religious ritual of trying to do the right thing without true love in our hearts.  By forgiving everyone we open the door to God’s love and blessing.  When Jesus died on the cross for our sins he demonstrated his mercy for all of us.  By having mercy on those who have wronged us we exhibit his living love within us.  What miracles could God  do through us when we all have a forgiving spirit?  Using Bart’s words “I can only imagine.”

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footnote:  Shannon saw the change in Bart’s life and today they are married with 5 children.  MercyMe has released some of the most powerful Christian music in the last few years that were able to crossover to the adult contemporary stations!  A movie was made called I Can Only Imagine and it hit the big screen in 2018. The description of the movie was stated as follows… Based on the incredible true-life story that inspired the beloved, chart-topping song, I Can Only Imagine is a song that brings ultimate hope to so many – often in the midst of life’s most challenging moments. Amazingly, the song was written in mere minutes by MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard. In reality, those lyrics took a lifetime to craft.

Image result for Bart Millard

 

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Roll Away The Stone

He has risen!  It is the story of our faith.  Without the fact that Jesus has risen from the dead our faith would be dead too.  Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and discovered that the Stone had been rolled away.  It was a massive stone that had been put in front of the opening to make sure Jesus’ body was not stolen.  So Mary goes into the tomb only to find that Jesus is not there.  She runs to John and Peter two of Jesus disciples with the sad news.  “They have taken our Lord and I don’t know where they put him.”  The two disciples run to the tomb only to find that Mary was right.  The stone is rolled away and Jesus’ body is gone.  Not knowing what to do next the disciples end up going back home.  Mary is standing outside the tomb crying.  As she wept she looked into the tomb and saw two angels dressed in white seated where Jesus’ body had been.  They asked her why she was crying?  “They have taken my Lord and I don’t know what they did with him”, she stated.  Suddenly Jesus appeared but Mary did not recognize him.  Thinking he was the gardener she said “sir, If you have carried him away tell me where you have taken him and I will go get him”.  Jesus said “Mary” and Mary realized that it was Jesus and he was alive.

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Like the stone blocking the tomb there is another story years before of how God symbolically used stones to give Moses a lesson for his people.  Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt and had just crossed the Red Sea that God had parted for them.  That was the miracle where he made the sea part for them to get through but roll back to swallow up their enemies that were after them.  Going through the desert they came to Mount Sinai. God called Moses to the top of the mountain so they could talk.  The rest of the people were to stay down below and clean themselves up to prepare for when Moses came back with instructions from God.  Moses went up to the top of the mountain to meet God.  He stayed for 40 days and nights.  God wrote in his own writing the 10 commandments and put them on two tablets of stone.  When Moses came down from the mountain with the two stones in his arms he noticed that the people had grown impatient and had made an altar with a brass calf.  Moses was so upset that he threw the tablets to the ground breaking them in hundreds of pieces.  God ended up having Moses chisel two more rocks down to tablet size and gave him the ten commandments again to write on them.  The commandments were never symbolized as a way to salvation.  They were given because God loved them and gave them rules to follow that would be best for them.  It’s like loving parents telling their children to get home by 11 or don’t eat all of that junk food.

Ten Commandments (Decalogue) - Large 10 Commandments - Photo Museum Store Company

How many times do you tell your kids not to do something only to find that they disobey?  How many times in the spur of the moment do we make the wrong choice and for that moment we don’t consider the rules.  My dad used to tell me a story about a day that he was driving and came to a yellow light.  It was one of those lights where it was a 50-50 as to if he should go through or stop.  He decided to go through.  Just after he went through the light there were blinding lights in his rear view mirror.  He was getting pulled over.  When he mentioned to the officer that the light was yellow the officer told him that while he was under it the light turned red.  It was the letter of the law and the officer was determined to enforce it.  That ticket greatly affected my dad’s view of traffic lights from that time forward.  If he were driving up to a light and the light turned yellow you could bet your life his car was stopping.  Sometimes he stopped that car so suddenly it almost threw me on the floor.  This was before the time when we all wore seat belts.  One time dad made one of his stops and the car behind him rear ended his car in the back.  The driver mentioned that he thought dad was going through.

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A friend mentioned the other day of an episode with his dad.  His dad was driving with the family along narrow winding roads in the mountains of Tennessee or Kentucky.  As he was winding down the mountain he noticed the blinding lights of a police car in his rear view mirror.  The officer asked “Do you know how fast you were going?”  Truthfully the father did not know.  The officer had pulled him over in a loving way reminding him of how dangerous it is driving down the mountain.  “We have had many cars not make a turn and I just wanted to make sure you were not one of them.”  That story stayed with my friend all of these years.  The officer in his memory pulled them over because he cared about them.  He did not recite the letter of the law to them.  He did not give his father a ticket.  He just wanted to warn them to slow up and be safe.

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Almost invariably with rules there are exceptions to the rule.  If you are racing to get someone to the hospital in an emergency you might run a red light or two.  Is this lawful?  No, but it might be practical because you are doing it in love.  Even though God gave the ten commandments out of love he knew that they would be broken.  Symbolically when Moses became upset and broke the 10 commandment tablets it was like the ten commandments would be broken too.  There is a difference however in breaking a rule in love and in hate.  One day Jesus came by a pool where an invalid man had been laying on his bed by it for 38 years.  (You can find this story in the Gospel of John chapter 5 verses 5-15.)  Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be made well.  The man answered saying “I have no one to put me in the pool.”  You see an angel had stirred the pool waters and anyone entering the pool would be healed.  As you can imagine there was always a stampede to get into the water.  The man however had no means to get in.  Jesus did not say “Here let me help you into the pool.”  Jesus knew the real source for healing.  What he did do was command the man to take up his bed and walk!  The man on command took up his bed and started walking.  I can imagine the excitement that came into his life and the amazement others around him were feeling.  They had seen this man laying there by the pool for years and now he was carrying his bed and walking.  After he advanced for awhile with his bed on his back the religious lawyers called Pharisees stopped him.  It happened to be the Sabbath day and they told him it was unlawful to carry his bed on the Sabbath.

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n 2013 in the United States alone 2,220,300 adults were in federal, state, or county jails.  That is almost 1% of the adult population.  Those people are in physical bondage as they are locked up with no place to go.  We can find statistics on the number of these people there are but nobody knows the statistic on how many people are in spiritual bondage.  I can only tell you that the number is in the millions.  The spiritual bondage comes from people trying to live by the rules.  You might say “Shouldn’t we live by the rules and isn’t it a good thing?”  The answer is yes but we have to realize that if our heart is in the right place the rules will take care of themselves.  When the religious rulers asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was he answered this way…37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

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So my questions to you today are Do you live your life in love?   Are you concerned with others obeying the rules and holding them accountable when they don’t?  Are you willing to forgive and forget or do you hold grudges? How is playing by the rules affecting your life?  Has religion made you miserable?  Are you trying to please God because you fear him or because you love him?  Do you go to church in fear or in love?

When the stone was rolled away from Jesus’ tomb it was a sign of hope!  It was a sign that something supernatural had happened!  When we give our life to Christ something supernatural happens to us too!  No longer are we living in bondage blocked by doubt and fear with no hope.  Now instead of depending on religious rules to justify us we have a loving heart and the voice of the Holy Spirit telling us we are saved.  Our life that was once a dark tomb blocked by a large stone is now an unblocked lighted vessel for his use. Let God roll that stone that is blocking your way and let him empower you to change the world!  Go in love and peace and let his love freely shine for all to see!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Galatians 5:1

 

“Eight” A New Beginning

My friend Gary always wore number eight when we played ball together. His reason for this favorite number was “a new beginning.” God did all of his creating in six days and rested on the seventh. So what happened on the eighth day? He started creating again, with a new beginning! It also applies to a person who comes to Christ. Old things are passed away, behold all things are new! The first seven can represent what happened in the past. When he forgives our sins and saves us the eight represents the beginning of the new life in him!

This new beginning thing has been hitting me hard lately! I mentioned in recent entries about my dad giving me his car on his death bed. I drove that same car faithfully for the last fifteen years. It was something that I was emotionally attached to. Today the deal became official as I was forced to sell his car because repairs became too expensive. Now I am driving a new to me car and a “new beginning” is taking place. I also have mentioned my job and the person who I have worked with for the last fifteen years retiring. Monday will be another “new beginning” as I get used to working with a new person. These “new beginnings” that have been coming my way lately do not compare to a day twenty years ago when my world turned upside down. This was a “new beginning” I didn’t want, but one I was forced to deal with.

My beloved daughter Rebecca had died. She got sick over a weekend. At first it was a temperature and throwing up (classic flu symptoms). At the time they didn’t have the immediate care facilities they have now. We treated it like the flu and on Monday when she wasn’t any better we took her to the doctor. She was unresponsive and the doctor sent us home with the advice of give her plenty of liquids. About an hour after we were sent home Rebecca was laying on the couch and rolled off onto the floor. It was a violent reaction and her little eyes were rolling back in her head. Just then the phone rang and it was the doctor. He said to take her to the emergency room. Unfortunately that seizure was the final blow. Although at the emergency room they did all they could, that night she was declared brain dead.

From the beginning Rebecca was daddy’s girl! I loved taking her to the local pizza and video games place. We would enjoy watching the same clown do the same magic tricks over and over and still couldn’t figure out how he could take five pieces of rope and make it into one long one! Yet time after time it happened and every time we were amazed! It was amazing because talking to Rebecca was like talking to a grown up. She was well loved by both grandma’s as we worked in the day and they took special time with her! Her little mind seemed to absorb everything! One time we were at the big church and the pastor gave an altar call. Rebecca in her quiet way informed her mommy that she wanted to go up. I don’t remember if we all went up together or if we just said a prayer in the pew but Rebecca’s light that was always bright became even brighter!

We had two songs we sang together that I learned in camp years ago. One was called “I Sing a New Song.” It went like this…I sing a new song, since Jesus came, serve a new master, wear a new name, walk a new road, have a new goal, know a new peace, down deep in my soul. One of us would sing the first part and the other one would echo it. After we both sang each part we joined in together and sang all of the words in harmony. The last part we would both stretch our arms out and together sing Down Deep in My Soul!!!!
The other camp song we always sang together was called “Of What Are You Sure?” It was sang with one person asking the questions and the other answering. Then the next time we reversed roles. The third time we sang together in harmony! It went like this…”Of what are you sure? I’m sure I’m on my way to heaven..And how do you know? I know my sins are all forgiven, Are you sure of it? I’m confident, persuaded I am saved, And how do you know? I know for Christ is mine. The third time with both of us harmonizing we would emphasize that last line “I know for Christ is mine!!!” The words are so basic and yet we need to get back to the basics! When we would ask Rebecca what she wanted to be when she grew up Rebecca would answer “an artist.” Her preschool teacher made the point of exuberantly telling us of her talents. Her pictures were of the talent of kids twice her age! Her smile just lit up a room and her heart was always so pure!

In late 1991 when Rebecca was four the church had a play they were putting on called “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames.” The play was about many different family and individual lives coming to an end. I remember one was a real old christian lady that died and Jesus welcomed her into heaven. Then there were the non believers who died and the loud roar of the devil and the red lighting! It was very scary even for me sitting there. For Rebecca it was so frightening she slumped down low in her seat. The play went on for five straight nights and Rebecca wanted to go back each night! She soon found the courage to stay upright in her seat when we explained that it was just an actor and even if it wasn’t the devil cannot touch those who belong to God! I told her coming home one night that the main thing about this life was that we were saved so we would be going to heaven in the next life. Her quick response was “I wonder if the twins are saved?” She was referring to two twin boys her age across the street that came over and played with her.

The pastor at the big church we were going to wrote a poem about Rebecca and presented it at her funeral. It was called “Rebecca Led the Way” and it talked about how it will be a great reunion day for my family someday in heaven and Rebecca led the way there! That poem meant a lot to us in our grief! That poem was what we needed at that time to try to put a rhyme and reason to what had happened to us. That poem said the words in a way that made us feel it was from God!

So now we fast forward a couple of months. We had switched churches from a big church to a smaller one. Basically there were two reasons that we did. One was the pastor of this smaller church. Because my mom had attended this church the pastor came up and ministered to us! He counseled my wife and I in such a caring way that we felt a bond. The other factor was the fact that we just needed a smaller church where we could get to know more people more intimately. So here it is early November and I am sitting in the pew listening to the message. The pastor liked to do messages in a series. The series for the next few weeks would be about “Fresh Fire.” I think it was a book he was reading that inspired him to go into this topic. As I was sitting there I felt the spirit telling me to write a poem. I have written a poem or two in my lifetime and wrote a couple of songs but this was more meaningful, more powerful, and more of a calling! I started writing down points in the sermon and brought the paper home and the poem started to flow as I felt the spirit leading me!

It is ironic how God works! I came to that church to be ministered to for something devastating that happened to me and my family. God showed me that the best way for me to be ministered to was to minister to others. It seemed odd too that the particular topic was fresh fire. God was preparing me for that number eight, “a new beginning.” What he was saying to me was that whatever happened in the past is over. It is time to start over again. The sermon wasn’t about God’s mercy for the hurting, or how God helps overcome grief. It was about a fresh fire in our lives. Because whatever comes my way, both good and bad, I can be at peace when I have his fire burning in me! From that first “Fresh Fire” poem there were well over one hundred more. The pastor would read them as part of his sermons! Sometimes they would come from sermons, other times thoughts or ideas as I kept my mind and heart open for his leading. When we realize that God is eternal and everything else is just temporary, we can get our priorities in line!

Much like when that clown at the video games and pizza place put that rope together, God does the same thing with our lives. The clown used diversion tricks to substitute the big rope for the many segments. God pieces our lives together without tricks. He is constantly using the number eight in our lives. He links many beginnings and endings to mold and shape us for his use! The following poem is the first poem I wrote from a sermon. It is called “Fresh Fire Is Not Free.” The message of the poem continues and will always be true. In order to get the fresh fire we vitally need in our lives we have to give God everything that we have! Then the fire will flow and we will not lack!

Please scroll to the 32:36 point of this video for a story that relates to this particular piece.

Fresh Fire Is Not Free

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Fresh fire Lord,
That’s what I say
But how do I get it?
Show me the way

Give me the power,
give me the boldness,
give me the wisdom
to cut through their coldness

I waited expecting
that new fresh fire
Then came a voice,
Do you really desire?

The thing that you ask for,
it comes with a cost
It starts with a burden
to rescue the lost

You ask me to give you,
what will you give me?
This thing that you ask for,
it isn’t for free

The price of my daily
filling your cup
is for you to be humble,
your will give up

Give praise to your God,
walk in the light
for I have delivered you
from the cold, lonely night

Quit trying to take
a small part of me
Give up your own way,
then you will see

The power, the glory,
the victory too
The fruit of the Spirit,
that’s my will for you

Keep your heart open
throughout the day
I may be able
to use you some way

The thing that you ask for,
it is no short journey
You must open your heart
for continuous learning

Give me your whole life,
don’t hold anything back,
then the fire will fall
and you will not lack

Give me your quality
time when you pray
Learn how to trust me,
my commandments obey

Walk in the Spirit,
live always near it
Take hold of my hand
and I’ll let you stand

The Spirit-filled life is
my desire for you
so walk with me daily
and I’ll make all things new

Stay in the vine
all of the time,
then I can entrust you
with all that is mine

Can I make this commitment?
How can I dare?
Then out of my heart
came this beautiful prayer

Lord, thank you for showing me
your wisdom so true
and let me still ask for
fresh fire anew

Let me give you
my whole life and more,
then I will see victory
The heavens will pour

Blessings and love
down on me today,
If only I’ll learn
to trust and obey

Fresh fire Lord,
that’s what I say
I give you my all
come and fill me today.

Jesus replied “Love the Lord
your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with
all your might’…”

Matthew 12:37

Fresh Fire Is Not Free

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Fresh fire Lord,
That’s what I say
But how do I get it?
Show me the way

Give me the power,
give me the boldness,
give me the wisdom
to cut through their coldness

I waited expecting
that new fresh fire
Then came a voice,
Do you really desire?


The thing that you ask for,
it comes with a cost
It starts with a burden
to rescue the lost

You ask me to give you,
what will you give me?
This thing that you ask for,
it isn’t for free

The price of my daily
filling your cup
is for you to be humble,
your will give up

Give praise to your God,
walk in the light
for I have delivered you
from the cold, lonely night

Quit trying to take
a small part of me
Give up your own way,
then you will see

The power, the glory,
the victory too
The fruit of the Spirit,
that’s my will for you

Keep your heart open
throughout the day
I may be able
to use you some way

The thing that you ask for,
it is no short journey
You must open your heart
for continuous learning

Give me your whole life,
don’t hold anything back,
then the fire will fall
and you will not lack

Give me your quality
time when you pray
Learn how to trust me,
my commandments obey

Walk in the Spirit,
live always near it
Take hold of my hand
and I’ll let you stand

The Spirit-filled life is
my desire for you
so walk with me daily

and I’ll make all things new

Stay in the vine
all of the time,
then I can entrust you
with all that is mine

Can I make this commitment?
How can I dare?
Then out of my heart
came this beautiful prayer

Lord, thank you for showing me
your wisdom so true
and let me still ask for
fresh fire anew

Let me give you
my whole life and more,
then I will see victory
The heavens will pour

Blessings and love
down on me today,
If only I’ll learn
to trust and obey

Fresh fire Lord,
that’s what I say
I give you my all
come and fill me today.

Jesus replied “Love the Lord
your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with
all your might’…”

Matthew 12:37

Fueling the Fire

I was driving home for lunch today and as the price on the sign from the local gas station came into view I had to do a double take!

pretty expensive stuff!

Admittedly something went horribly wrong with their sign or did it?  We probably won’t hit these prices anytime soon but is this a sign for the future?  When I first started driving gas was about fifty cents a gallon.  I guess you can say I’m getting old.

In 1974 I got my first car!  It was a green 1968 Pontiac Lemans!  That car was a gas guzzler!  One problem that it had was a faulty carburetor.  I remember the car stalling many a time because it wasn’t getting enough gas.  I’m sure it needed a good tune up because when I first started the car it would be idling so fast that it would literally take off without any help from the gas pedal!  Bob, my friend next door used to ride with me to school my senior year in high school.  We had a lot of fun every morning in that car!  Kevin lived down the road and he drove his brother, sister and a couple of more people to school every day.  Although Kevin didn’t care, to Bob and I it was important to beat him every day to school!  Since both of us were usually leaving about the same time his car was always in view.  When we got in the car the first thing we wondered was did Kevin pass yet?  Usually he was just behind us or just ahead.  Normally we jumped on the highway especially if we were behind.  We never lost our race with Kevin.  I remember we had a can of starting fluid in the car in case we stopped and the car stalled.  I would have to jump out  and squirt the stuff down the carburetor to get the car to fire up again.  It was another daring chance I took along with driving way  too fast just to beat Kevin to school.  All the while my car got about ten miles per gallon.  It’s gas guzzling was made even worse by my speeding to school every morning.

Racing around wasting my fuel!

I had a friend named Steve that worked in the local gas station by my house.  We were friends from school and he was thrilled when I pulled my car in.  I remember one day I told Steve I wanted five dollars of gas.  He set the pump to automatic and got carried away in his conversation with me.  These days they set the pump inside and it stops at the dollar amount requested.  Back then I guess it was the job of the attendant to watch how much he pumped in.  It may sound crazy to my young readers but someone actually pumped the gas in our cars back then.  When Steve looked at the pump panic set in.  It had already pumped in over ten dollars before he could get the nozzle out!  When Steve came back to the car I handed him the five I had.  He went to the manager and told him what happened.  If you can believe it the manager actually came out and siphoned some of the gas out of my car!

Keith and I have been best friends since we were three or four.  One day at the little church around our house we met each other.  I am two and a half weeks older than Keith.  We figured out that we lived right down the road from each other!  After that we were inseparable.  When we were seven years old I hung around Keith as he did some work.  Keith  had a couple of work things he had to do to help out.   One was delivering the TV Guide to people that subscribed through him in our neighborhood.  The other chore I remember is that he regularly burned the papers in the barrel they had in the backyard.  One day as Keith and I were burning his papers Keith, with an excited voice stated, “I know how we can make this fire bigger!”  Not knowing what he was up to I followed him into his garage where he picked up a can of gasoline.

I know how we can make this fire bigger!

At that time I had seen gasoline used before as my dad poured it into the lawnmower.  It seems Keith had some advanced knowledge over me in the power of gasoline.  I followed him like a good soldier wondering what magic he was going to do to that fire with the gas.  Just as he started pouring the gas into the fire his mom came running out of the house screaming.  It caught us totally off guard and she grabbed Keith and told me to go home.  She then called my parents and told them what we were doing.  For years after that my dad told the story about how naive I was.  After he told me how dangerous it was to pour gasoline in a fire I  said “it wasn’t dangerous dad, it was just gasoline like you put in the lawnmower.”

When we are born again God puts a fire within us.  It isn’t a fire in the sense that it will burn or harm us.  It is a fire from his spirit to ours.  It is in the form of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us and leads us to all righteousness.  The gasoline in the story represents spiritual things! When we feed our spirit with spiritual things  our spiritual fire grows!  When this happens there is a difference in us that people notice!

Too often though, we waste the fuel that we need in our lives.  Sometimes we are coming and going so fast racing races that have no meaning.     Other times we squander our fuel because we get distracted and lose focus.   Instead of admitting our mistakes and asking God for forgiveness,  we tend to try to correct the wrongs ourselves .

Keith’s mom acted wisely in stopping us from pouring the gas into the fire.  Physically we could have done ourselves great harm.  In the spiritual world adding the Holy Spirit as fuel to our fire will always benefit us.  Yet, when the fire is about to get too big for the comfort of some they tend to want to limit the power of God.  Instead of encouraging their brothers and sisters to add more fuel they would rather be set in Keeping everything the same!  Adding the Holy Spirit to our fire has the potential of waking up a dying world!  To some Christians the excitement that the Holy Spirit could generate in their life and ours would be too weird or would make them feel uncomfortable.  Spiritual water is often used instead of fuel to keep the fire “under control.”

Unlike the sign I saw for the price of gas, our spiritual fuel is priceless.  Saying it is priceless but it is free can only describe our gift from God.  Although the initial salvation experience is free, keeping that fire burning takes effort and dedication!  Our spiritual fire is either getting smaller or bigger.  It’s not enough just to get a quick fix in our spiritual carburetor! We can choose to keep our fire at a point where it could literally go out, or we can fuel the fire with prayer, study, and committing ourselves fully to the cause!  The secret formula isn’t secret at all.   It’s the constant desire within us to want more of God and less of us.  It will happen when we use what he has given to us smartly and fuel the fire within!  We can then use God’s fire to heat the spirits of others as they seek spiritual warmth in a cold hard world!

Fuel the Fire, by Sonicflood

Click below

play?p=fuel+the+fire+sonicflood+youtube&tnr=21&vid=e290488c818dd8c4673b90d8768b1fc7&tur

Fresh Fire Is Not Free

by Lewis Hamilton
from the book “The Gardener and My Garden” c1997

Fresh fire Lord,
That’s what I say
But how do I get it?
Show me the way

Give me the power,
give me the boldness,
give me the wisdom
to cut through their coldness

I waited expecting
that new fresh fire
Then came a voice,
Do you really desire?


The thing that you ask for,
it comes with a cost
It starts with a burden
to rescue the lost

You ask me to give you,
what will you give me?
This thing that you ask for,
it isn’t for free

The price of my daily
filling your cup
is for you to be humble,
your will give up

Give praise to your God,
walk in the light
for I have delivered you
from the cold, lonely night

Quit trying to take
a small part of me
Give up your own way,
then you will see

The power, the glory,
the victory too
The fruit of the Spirit,
that’s my will for you

Keep your heart open
throughout the day
I may be able
to use you some way

The thing that you ask for,
it is no short journey
You must open your heart
for continuous learning

Give me your whole life,
don’t hold anything back,
then the fire will fall
and you will not lack

Give me your quality
time when you pray
Learn how to trust me,
my commandments obey

Walk in the Spirit,
live always near it
Take hold of my hand
and I’ll let you stand

The Spirit-filled life is
my desire for you
so walk with me daily

and I’ll make all things new

Stay in the vine
all of the time,
then I can entrust you
with all that is mine

Can I make this commitment?
How can I dare?
Then out of my heart
came this beautiful prayer

Lord, thank you for showing me
your wisdom so true
and let me still ask for
fresh fire anew

Let me give you
my whole life and more,
then I will see victory
The heavens will pour

Blessings and love
down on me today,
If only I’ll learn
to trust and obey

Fresh fire Lord,
that’s what I say
I give you my all
come and fill me today.

Jesus replied “Love the Lord
your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with
all your might’…”

Matthew 12:37

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