Do you drive with your eyes open or closed? I’ve seen people drive like their eyes were closed–but I’m talking about driving all the time with eyes that are closed. The newest vehicles will now help you drive–they will sound warnings if you get out of your lane. They will even apply the brakes for you if you don’t. You can just “point and go” when you get in vehicles so equipped. Me? I’m not ready to trust my life to an onboard computer. Over the years I’ve had too many personal computers crash to trust them to be my chauffeur.
What’s my point this morning? My point is this–if you won’t drive with your eyes closed, then why try to navigate life with eyes that are closed–closed to God? The Spirit and I were just sitting and talking on the front porch bench. I started to pray about the churches He has given to me to pastor in the light of what I wrote yesterday (click here to read that post). Then the Spirit nudged me in the ribs, and asked, “Why are your eyes closed while you’re praying? You gotta’ see it and you can’t if you’re eyes are closed!”
Now, I’m not preaching against praying with your eyes closed. What the Spirit was trying to teach me (and you) is that we must be open to what God is desiring to do. Elisha saw the same danger that his servant saw–but Elisha saw more. This morning I needed my eyes open in order to see all that I was praying for. Know what? It worked! Don’t drive with your eyes closed–PLEASE DON’T! And don’t drive your vehicle AS IF your eyes were closed. Pay attention to your surroundings! You can’t if your eyes are closed. Open them! Open your eyes as you pray. Open them as you intercede for people and our culture! And you can begin to see what God is doing!
I have no clue as to what you are thinking about today’s Title: The Rich Lighter Life! Maybe you thought about a gold plated with diamonds Zippo lighter. Nope, that’s not it. Unless you are from the country, you may not know what Rich Lighter is. Well, I’m from the country. In fact, a friend posted one of those “tests” to see how “country” you are. Out of a possible high score of 30, I scored 28. I could have scored 29 but I have never touched an electric fence. I’m not as dumb as I act.
As you may know now, Debbie and I are on our annual spiritual retreat to the Smoky Mountains. We rent a cabin for a week and only venture out once, twice at the most. The remainder of our time is spent here in this cabin. This particular cabin has a wood burning fire place. Being winter and all, I decide to pack some fire wood to enjoy the fireplace. You know that to have a fire in the fire place, one needs something to start the fire. I could have cheated and went to WalMart and purchased those neat little fire starters. But remember, I’m a country boy.
Before we left I went just to the edge of the woods surrounding our home and found some Rich Lighter. Researching for this post I discovered that some call it Fatwood. When a pine tree is either cut or is knocked over when it is alive, it is filled with sap. The sap, or resin if you prefer, trapped in the stump becomes hard over time. This sap contains terpene, a volatilehydrocarbon. I know you are not wanting a lesson in organic chemistry, so I will get to the point.
This hardened resin is very flammable. With just a small handful of Rich Lighter, one can easily start a fire. I put some newspaper in the fireplace, added my Rich Lighter, then the kindling and the wood and lit the newspaper. The picture above is the results of my endeavors. And to show you how little it takes, the picture below is how much I used. The Alabama Crimson Tide mug is symbolic of the power of Rich Lighter:
The Holy Spirit prompted me to do some thinking about Rich Lighter and fire places. The question many folks are asking, especially “church folks” is, “What is it going to take to change our churches, our communities, our nation, our world? Things are out of control!” It’s a great question to ask–IF–you are willing to dig deep for the answer. Asking the question in the expectation of someone else answering it is futile, ineffective, and fruitless. Nothing CAN change unless one knows the answer–and I found the answer in a handful of Rich Lighter.
What’s the answer to this “burning” question? YOU! That’s right, YOU! You may be thinking, probably ARE thinking, “How can I change what’s happening in Washington D.C.? How can I end domestic violence? How can I feed all those hungry families? How can I get people to listen and respect each other? How can I keep our church from closing its doors? How can I help people imprisoned by addictions? How can I do this in a way that really makes a difference? It’s really simple, folks. Remember my handful of Rich Lighter.
Just as a roaring fire can happen in a fireplace with just a handful of Rich Lighter, people, places, and situations change–just one person at a time. And YOU are the person that will start that Fire that will bring lasting change. It’s just that simple–not easy–but simple. Decades ago Kirk Kaiser wrote a song that I still sing today. The name of it is Pass It On. The first time I heard it was in 1971. It was a Sunday night Youth Service. I knew God was calling me into a relationship with Him. But I fought it off by holding on to the oak pew in front of me. I held on so tight I know that my fingerprints are permanently embedded in that pew at Green’s Chapel. That’s what it took for me to resist God’s Grace. And I succeeded. But, a little over a year later, in not so dramatic a moment, I finally surrendered to His Grace. And as the saying goes, “The Rest Is History!”
If you have the Holy Spirit inside you, (you do if Jesus is your Lord and Savior), that Fire is more than enough to start the process of transformation in people, places, and situations. Just as Rich Lighter easily ignites and spreads its fire to other wood, YOU can spread the Fire that will make the difference. But changing the world will never happen as long as you expect someone else to answer the question. I leave you with two songs–one is for me because I am a country boy–the second one is for YOU, Just listen to it:
Who remembers that song by Carly Simon? Guess I’m revealing my age; actually I don’t have to reveal my age–it shows naturally. But early this morning, I’m awake and filled with great anticipation, like a child on the way to Disney World. What is the cause of my great anticipation? I am leaving for Brentwood, Tennessee for another New Room Conference. This will be my third consecutive time. I don’t know how long this event has been happening. If I did, I’d probably kick myself in the butt for missing the earlier ones.
What is it? I’m so glad you asked me that question. It’s a time of inspired worship, spirit-filled preaching and teaching, and a time for Spiritual Renewal. Not all “conferences” I have attended over these past 44 years have filled me with anticipation. OK, OK, it’s closer to 99% of those conferences never filled me with anticipation. But this is different. I looked up synonyms for “anticipation” and there was a single word that leaped out at me from that list. It’s a word you seldom hear used unless you’re singing that great old hymn, Blessed Assurance,FORETASTE!
We don’t use that old word much anymore, but maybe we should. It means “a slight and partial experience, knowledge, or taste of something to come in the future”. You get that small taste, and you know, “Wow! This is just a sample, I can’t wait to get the full course!” This foretaste has been given a name at New Room–AWAKENING! I confess that my hope for the church in the U.S. before New Room was at an all time low; I mean the bottom of the cellar, ocean bottom low. But here….I was Elisha’s servant who had his eyes opened to the presence of Heaven’s Army!
We worship together, learn together and we have these things called “breakout sessions”. From a list of subjects we choose where we want to go. Last year was an especially powerful Epiphany for me. I can’t even remember which breakout session I had signed up for, but something (actually someONE) drew me into a different one on Travailing Prayer. I was like a puppy being drawn towards that treat.
I was taking notes right and left. At the end, now there was another Epiphany. The speaker asked that anyone who needed prayer to come and offer themselves to God. This preacher never hesitated. I went forward and stretched myself out on the floor. As I was praying I became aware of another presence. Someone was standing over me, and he was praying for me. He was praying in tongues FOR me (a new experience for me), but I wasn’t freaked out by it. In fact, I felt a calmness come over me. From time to time, he touched my shoulder as he prayed in tongues and I felt the most amazing coolness where he touched me and a profound calmness in my heart. Somehow, I sensed it was a prayer for preparation for what was ahead for me.
In the time that followed, I tried to figure out what God was trying to prepare me for. There were some moments that I thought I figured it out–but I was wrong. And now? I am still assured it was and IS a prayer for preparation–not just where I thought it would me. Through a tumultuous April, a time when I allowed hurt to consume me, I have finally learned that this prayer of preparation was for where I am right now.
I still don’t know all the details of what God is preparing me for here–but I know He’s Got This, and I am OK with that. Actually, better than OK. I am filled with anticipation! Unlike the anticipation of Carly Simon that was keeping her waiting–this anticipation is keeping me moving forward. I don’t know where it’s leading me, but I DO know that HE is both with me, and waiting for me as He reveals more and more of what He has for someone like me. Now here’s a testimony of grace and mercy.
Truthfully, I never anticipated that at 62 years old that God would have so much more for me–but HE anticipated it. And that moment of being prayed for in a language I could not understand has given me more confidence in God than I ever had before. Well, excuse me but my “foretaste” is beckoning me. Need to pack up and head out to God knows where–and I’m perfectly good with that.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him. OH, and don’t miss the “foretaste” He has for you….
It’s not enough to know ABOUT God. I know about the atom, but that doesn’t make me a nuclear physicist. Sitting in a pew doesn’t turn you into a real Follower of Jesus anymore than sitting in the garage will turn you into a car. Come on folks, this isn’t rocket surgery! Get to know GOD, revealed in Scripture, and seen in perfect clarity through Jesus! And only Jesus!
OK, since God calls us to be a Kingdom of Priests (1 Peter 2:9) I ask you: Whose altar is it? Priests in the Old Testament served before the Altar of God, meaning God owned that altar. If the altar is yours then the Fire of Revival will never fall on it. The fire from Heaven didn’t fall on the altar of Jezebel’s priests because it wasn’t God’s altar. As long as we try to control the altar, God’s fire won’t fall on it!