Different Season, Different Fire

This glorious pre-summer weather invigorates me. Invigorates me so much so that I felt the urge to clean out my fireplace recently. It’s the annual spring rite of passage. Many life lessons are learned in this tradition…

I love my fireplace. I love even more the warmth and beauty of a wood-burning fire roaring and flickering in that fireplace. After a long, cold winter of cozy fires, all that is left are the ashes, ash-covered iron grate, and the sooty, tiled walls inside the fireplace.

Winter is over. These ashes remind me of my own life’s ashes I have endured this winter…ashes I still struggle to write about…surviving a serious six-car accident, hit by a drunk driver. My heart overflows with humble gratitude that God spared my life miraculously. With ongoing physical therapy, court hearings, and insurance woes, it’s time to clean out my heart’s ashes. It’s a different season, time for a different fire.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its time.” –Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 NIV

I prepare myself for the mess. Placing gloves on my hands, I gather a few plastic bags and double them. Carefully I use the metal ash shovel and begin scooping the gray, dusty ashes, dumping them in my bag. Gross.

Next comes the heavy iron grate. It fits awkwardly into a plastic bag, and I walk it clumsily outside to the backyard shed, closed away until next autumn. It had done its job well.

Scoop by scoop all the ashes are removed from the fireplace.  The blackened, sooty tiled walls and floor of the fireplace remain. With my cleaning spray and cloths, little by little the true color of the tiled walls and floor peak through. The fireplace is clean again and ready.

Years ago I bought a mirror and had it cut the dimensions of my fireplace back wall. Retrieving the mirror from the hallway closet, I clean it off, and gingerly place it in the back of the fireplace. It fit perfectly, reflecting the light pouring through the windows across the living room.

My favorite part comes next. Inside the fireplace I insert my old, multi-tiered wrought iron candle holder. I place the fresh, white pillar candles on each pedestal and light each one. Setting the torchiere down, I get off my knees and sit back a few feet. The mini flames reflect in the mirror, dancing. Glorious. Breathtaking. It’s truly a different season, different fire.  

Is that not what we are called to do, to shine God’s Light, to be His reflection?

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that Light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the Light; he came only as a witness to the Light. The true Light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.”  –-John 1:4-9 NIV

Are you still sitting in the ashes of the winter’s fires like I had been? Let’s clean out our ashes, friend, and use them for our good and His glory.  It’s a different season; time for a different fire from the same Source.

May your soul be reinvigorated to reflect the Light of our Lord. Shine, my friend, Shine!

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives Light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. –Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

Reflect:

–What winter ashes might you have in your life that need cleaning out? Please comment.

–How do you or will you shine and reflect God’s Light?

Renew:

–“The Lord sends poverty and wealth; He humbles and He exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor.” –1 Samuel 2: 7-8a NIV

–“Do not put out the Spirit’s fire.” –1 Thessalonians 5:19 NIV

–“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” –Galatians 2:20 NIV

Recharge:

–What will you do this week to “let your light shine?”

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Refining, Shining, or Tarnishing? Post #42

On the first Tuesday of normally the warmest month of the year, it is on my heart to reflect on the warmth, the heat and process of silver refining.  I know it’s random, so please bear with me.

Each day I open my mail with a pretty silver letter opener, given to me years ago by a precious friend. It stays naturally polished, shiny from its daily use and the oil from my hands. Each day when I walk into my office building for work, I notice its naturally polished door handles, also shiny from frequent use.

Then I open my kitchen cabinet and see my ornate silver pitcher, tarnished to black from its sad lack of usage.

It seems this verse from Malachi 3:3 recently keeps surfacing in my life:

“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.”

What does refining and purifying silver mean? I heard a story once of a ladies Bible study that asked the same question after reading that verse and wondered how it related to the character and nature of God.  One lady in the class offered to find out the process of refining silver and would report back to the group during the next Bible Study.

The lady called a silversmith and asked if she could watch him work. She made an appointment, not letting him know the reason for her curiosity of learning about the process of refining silver.

She watched the silversmith hold a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained to the lady that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames are the hottest as to burn away all the impurities surfacing to the top. The lady then thought about God holding us in such a hot spot.

She asked the silversmith if he had to sit with the silver the whole time it was being refined. He answered that yes, not only did he sit there holding the silver, but also he kept his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire, scraping off the impurities–the dross– that surfaced. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed. The lady pondered his statement, then followed up with the inevitable question.

The lady asked, “How do you know when the silver is fully refined?”

The silversmith smiled at her and answered, “Oh, that’s easy–when I see My image in it.”

What a sweet picture of how God takes such care of us.

I certainly am being warmed by the refiner’s fire in my life right now, having my impurities scraped away. So let’s say we eventually become “refined” this side of heaven, which I’m still not sure we do. What happens then?

I believe we have a choice. 1) We can choose to use our God-given gifts and talents daily and try to shine; or

2) We can remain shiny for a short time, displayed for the world to see, and after lack of usage we become tarnished until we are unrecognizable.

Which are you? Which do you want to be?

As we hunker down for our August warm weather, may you feel the warm glow of the Refiner’s fire.  May you see His reflection in your shiny self. If you feel tarnished today, be encouraged. Polish yourself off and use your gifts and talents to make a difference to someone. You shine!

Reflect:

–What do you relate to more? Refining, shining or tarnishing?  Please comment below by going to “View Comments.”

-How are you being refined?

Renew:

–“And the words of the Lord are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times.” –Psalm 12:6 NIV84

–“He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping. For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.” –Psalm 66:9, 10 NIV84

–“Remove the dross from the silver, and out comes material for the silversmith; remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.” –Proverbs 25:4, 5 NIV84

Recharge:

–In what ways this week can you “polish” yourself more? Is it writing a note of encouragement to a friend?  Inviting your elderly neighbor over to your warm home for some comfort food?  Getting more involved in your Christ-centered church? Joining a Bible study? Please comment below by going to “View Comments.”

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What is Your Self-Worth Worth? Post #38

You may have heard this story before. It bears repeating. May it touch your soul as it does mine.

“A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20.00 bill.

In the room of 200 he asked, ‘Who would like this $20 bill?’

Hands started going up.

He said, ‘I am going to give it to someone, but first let me do this.’ He proceeded to crumple up the bill. He then asked, ‘Who still wants it?’

Still the hands went up in the air.

‘Well,’ he replied, ‘what if I do this?’ And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now crumpled and dirty.

‘Now who still wants it?’ he asked.

Again the hands went into the air.

‘My friends, ‘ he continued, ‘we have all learned a valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money, you still wanted it because it did not decrease in value. It was still worth $20.

‘Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We sometimes feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what happens to you, you will never lose your value–dirty or clean, crumpled or finely creased, you are still priceless to God (your Creator) and to those who love you.’

The worth of our lives comes not in what we do or whom we know, but by WHO WE ARE.

To the whole world, each of us is a ‘nobody’–but to somebody, each of us is the whole world.

Reflect:

–How can you relate to this story? Please comment.

Renew:

–“Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value a man who speaks the truth.” –Proverbs 16:13 NIV84

–“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.” –Proverbs 31:1-2

–“And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” –Matthew 10:30-31 NIV84

Recharge:

–Name three people you will encourage this week and let them know how much you value and appreciate them.

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