Stirring up the fire

blogIMG_1818I usually avoid writing about controversial subjects.

My reason is valid, at least to me. I have plenty of opinions on polemic issues, believe me. But that’s just it. They are my opinions and I’m free to have them as you are free to have yours.  However, my intention for this blog is not to polarize people but to be a source of encouragement and inspiration to all, not just those who share my opinions or beliefs.

No doubt if I start posting my thoughts on contentious matters though, some readers will not agree with my opinion and will comment to state their case for their beliefs. Having a difference of opinion is not the issue. What a dull world it would be if we all agreed all the time.

What bothers me most is what I see happening on social media way too much.  You know, when verbal arguments escalate and become downright mean and nasty. And I see it occur on lots of blog posts too. 

I don’t want to initiate a war of words with my readers. Instead, my desire is that Mama’s Empty Nest be a respite from that part of our world where folks spread malice and vitriol at the drop of a comment.

Yet this post may cause a bit of contention, probably only in certain circles, but you know what? Sometimes you just have to speak your mind, or at least from your heart, even when you know there will be opposition to it. 

I find it ironic that just as the idea for this blog post began to take shape in my mind, I noticed an email encouraging me to write about this word – controversy.

So here goes.

You know what kills any kind of growth, whether it be in business, politics, organizations, or even in a church? Something that not only slays the momentum of moving forward but slams shut the coffin of death and nails it down tight?

Saying, “But we’ve always done it this way.”

Frankly, I’m tired of hearing that saying. But we’ve always done it this way.

I’m weary of attempts to encourage those who play it safe in cozy comfort zones to embrace something different that might just initiate a change for something better or more meaningful. But we’ve always done it this way.

I bristle when I hear how someone seeking to promote change instead hits the wall of tradition made up of nay-sayers. But we’ve always done it this way.

I’m disappointed in those who can’t – or won’t – deviate from the tried-and-true (yet old and tired) way of doing things. But we’ve always done it this way.

I’m frustrated by those who are so deep in a rut of sameness, they couldn’t find their way out with a bulldozer. But we’ve always done it this way.

Call me crazy, but I like change. I find the same old, same old incredibly dull and well….too much the same. And I really find it so in a house of worship.

Why balk at changes that may promote spiritual growth?

Now, let me get one thing straight. I am not talking about changing the message of the Gospel.  I’m not talking about changing the words God gave us in His Word. No, we must never change that because God and His Word are perfect and unchanging.

God was, is, and always will be. He is constant and enduring and so is His message of salvation.

But we should not be stale. We can’t grow if we don’t change. And if we don’t change, we won’t grow spiritually. If we don’t progress on our spiritual journey, we are only suckling down the milk of God’s Word without ever getting to the meat of it. We stay in a spiritual state of infancy – spiritual babies instead of mature believers.

“Change is one of the ingredients of Christianity. If people could not change, the gospel would be absolutely meaningless…The fact that people can change is the only hope they have.” ~ A.W. Tozer (from Rut, Rot, or Revival)

When believers are spiritually stagnant, we can’t experience the passionate life of being a Jesus follower. And how ever can we be in tune to what the Holy Spirit is leading us to do if we’re mired down in the humdrum?

The same old same old.  But we’ve always done it this way. I think God expects us to boldly step out of our ruts and embrace a vibrant faith, one so exhilarating that is catches on like wild fire.

How can people sit in their pews in their places of worship with an attitude of platitude? How can we sing the same old songs with the same old lack of enthusiasm? Where is our joy in worshiping the King of Kings, Lord of Lords?

How can we stick like superglue to traditions, which really don’t impact our salvation or our spiritual growth one iota, just because we’ve always done it that way?

“Somebody once said that man is made of dust and dust tends to settle. People tend to settle down and do the same things year in and year out, slowing going around in a circle.  When this gets into religion, it is deadly and evil.” ~ A.W. Tozer (from Rut, Rot, or Revival)

I don’t understand that kind of ‘religion’ and I guess I never will. I’m one of those people who says I don’t have religion, instead I have faith. And my faith is not in a set of traditions, a certain denomination, a social club, or a certain way of doing things just because it’s always been done before.

My faith is in a flesh and blood Savior who lived on the earth as one of us, died on a cross for me, rose from the grave, and gave me a priceless gift – salvation.

A Savior who expects me to be on fire for Him. To share His message of salvation to others. To express with joy and awe how much I love Him, trust Him, and am grateful for Him and share that with everyone I know – and even those I don’t.

I believe my Savior doesn’t want me to get bogged down in trivial matters that mean nothing when it comes to promoting His kingdom and glorifying Him.  My Savior, the miracle of Easter, expects me to be a soul on fire for Him.

Just like the lyrics to this song by the Christian group, Third Day. Listen here: Soul on Fire.

A soul on fire doesn’t care if we sing praises to God accompanied by an organ, a worship band, or a CD, but if a variation in music is what brings people to Him, then we better change and sing with joy.

A soul on fire doesn’t mind if Sunday morning worship or Bible study during the week takes longer than an hour because a soul on fire wants to spend as much time as possible worshiping the Lord, listening to His messages of truth, learning more about the God we serve, and applying that message to everyday life.   

A soul on fire doesn’t get mired down in trivial matters like which version of the Bible should be read, or what color the sanctuary’s new carpet should be, or where or when communion should be held, or ….whatever.

Because a soul on fire wants more than earthly matters. A soul on fire wants more of Jesus. More of His Word. And more spiritual growth until the day that soul departs this earth.

And if the majority of a church are not souls on fire, the slowly dying embers will not keep the church alive. You might as well pound in the nails to that coffin. Eventually, the doors will close on a dead church.

It’s never too late to save it.

“A church can be unified in one of two ways. You can freeze together, as the Church of the Frozen Chosen; or you can melt together with the fire of the Holy Spirit.” ~ John Hagee

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

All or nothing

blogIMG_1816You’re either in or you’re out. You can only straddle the fence for so long before it becomes necessary to choose which side of that boundary marker you’re willing to jump into.

I find this is true in all aspects of life.  Make a decision.  Choose which side you’re on.  We learn that at an early age and you can witness it on any elementary school playground. Line up on this team or that one but you can’t just hang in the middle.

Except that’s where a lot of us cling – to the middle of the road. We don’t want to jump on this or that bandwagon because it might be politically incorrect or we might offend someone, even our family or friends.  So we compromise (not that that’s a terrible thing, it’s good in some instances) to keep the peace or not be different or in the minority or….you can fill in the blank.

Choose your side. It’s evident in the political arena which is so fired up for the upcoming November presidential election that it reminds me of a wild WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) show gone rogue with manic behavior and ‘roid’ rage.  

It saddens me that people can choose to get oh, so riled up over politics or insert your favorite obsession passion here, yet still choose to be apathetic and indifferent to faith in God.

Today, July 26, is All or Nothing Day. I wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t been contacted by a complete stranger who just so happened to have read a blog post or two of mine.  

A few weeks ago, I opened my email inbox and noticed a message from a stranger. Now I will admit that I’m a sceptic when I get unsolicited emails and usually just hit the delete button.

But every so often, I get an email that my heart tells me to open and read and, believe it or not, I have had some absolutely wonderful email conversations with a few blog readers who were complete strangers to me.  Those rare occurrences have blessed my heart with the stories they’ve shared with me and how reading my written words touched them enough to reach out and contact me.  In the words of an old friend of mine, “It’s a God thing.”

So something in my heart implored me to open this email:

“Happy Wednesday! I wanted to send a note after seeing how you embrace a healthy, mindful home and life on your blog. I wanted to let you know about All or Nothing Day on July 26th, a day dedicated to living life to the fullest. I’m a 10 year survivor of a rare cancer called mesothelioma, given just 15 months to live upon diagnosis, then and there I decided it was all or nothing from that day on.I’m emailing you because I wanted to ask if you would be willing to help spread the word. It would be fantastic if you joined me on your blog in remembering why we’re here and what we’re most passionate and proudest of.”

Okay, I used to work in journalism. I know how to check out facts. Plus at my ripe old age, I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.  I wanted to ascertain this was legit. So I did what everyone else in the world does.  I googled the writer of the email.

I discovered she is exactly who she says she is. A cancer survivor.  Someone who chose to fight with all she had and wage a war (and it can be a long war with battle after battle) against the rogue cells in her own body which wanted to snuff out her life.

But more than that, she is an advocate who embraces life with gusto, passion, and much vigor to spread awareness not just about cancer but those affected by the particular one that she had been diagnosed with – mesothelioma. 

This lady is all in.

I emailed her back and asked her to tell me more.  She didn’t ask for a monetary donation to her cause; really she didn’t ask that much of me.  All she hoped I would do is write a little on my blog about what All or Nothing Day might mean to me.

It’s the least I can do.  One cancer survivor to another.

According to Heather Von St. James, this is what All or Nothing Day embraces:

“…it’s all about celebrating those moments where we’ve gone all out and also highlighting what our passions and proudest moments are in life. It captures the spirit of how I’ve tried to embrace each day since my diagnosis over ten years ago. As a cancer survivor I’ve dedicated myself to being an advocate for those affected by mesothelioma, spreading cancer awareness and educating on the continued dangers of asbestos…along with my family it’s what I give my all to every single day! I’d love for you to join by creating a post on your blog with what All or Nothing Day sparks with you, I think the beauty of this day is that it’s so different for everyone and it would be fantastic to see what you share to help inspire your readers!” 

So there you have it. 

A decision to make. You’re either in or you’re out.

I’ve thought, pondered, and asked the Lord what I should write to signify what All or Nothing Day means to me. What inspires me? What sparks the flame of passion within me? What do I most want to share with my readers?

The answer became quite clear. It comes right down to a basic part of who I am – my faith.

I’m either a believer in Jesus Christ or I’m not. I either place my complete faith and trust in Him or I don’t. I’m either all for Him or all against Him. I must choose sides even if I want to stay in the comfortable middle.

Because that is what He requires of me. I don’t want to be like the church of Laodicea, a spiritually dead church, written about in the Book of Revelation in the Bible (New Testament). Those believers were lukewarm about their faith in Christ.  They weren’t hot – being on fire or passionate about their faith in God – and they weren’t cold – strongly against the things of the Lord – either.  They were just apathetic, listless, unconcerned, and lethargic.

Jesus rebuked them in Revelation 3: 15-17 (The Message version):  “I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot—far better to be either cold or hot! You’re stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit.”

Strong words but truth. Lukewarm believers, like those in that ancient church, claim to know the Lord, they may even attend church, but they are complacent. They straddle the fence. Not all in nor all out. And they can cause more damage than those who completely reject Jesus.

Lukewarm believers claim to be Christians, but their hearts aren’t changed.  They lack the kind of love for the Savior that requires zeal and passion. They aren’t on fire for Him. Only repentance can change such a heart and those who are ‘hot’ for the Lord commit themselves completely to Him.  

All or nothing.

When folks examine me and how I live my faith and what fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) I may exhibit, there’s one thing I hope they see in me.

A soul on fire for Jesus. And nothing less.

Because it’s all or nothing and I’m totally in. All in.

©2016 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Click here: Soul on Fire