Don’t Let the Fire Go Out


I heard a truck in the driveway and the first thing I did was glance at the wood stove.

Was there wood in the stove or had I let the fire go out?

As is often the case, I had been caught up in my book-making and I had forgotten to tend the fire. So, before Phil came in I quickly added wood and was sheepishly grinning when he entered the den.

After 41 years, Phil is accustomed to those sheepish grins. 🙂

Yes, I am easily distracted, yet when I am working on art, time literally slips away. I am totally immersed in the creative process and I need reminders to fulfill my other responsibilities.

We do this spiritually as well. We can get so caught up in “doing” for God that we forget to “tend the fire.”

What does it mean to “tend the fire” spiritually?

It means that we are re-stocking our lives with fuel from the Source, in other words making sure that we are receiving fresh spiritual food from God’s Word. I have been a Christian for almost 60 years, yet I can’t survive on old teaching from my past – as good as it was.

Anyone who heats with wood will tell you – old wood burns up fast!

I need to allow Holy Spirit to speak to me with fresh insight for the current issues I face today. As I read the Bible, the Living Word, it feeds the flames of the spiritual fire within me. This past weekend I attended a women’s conference at our church. Katherine Wright shared from her heart some things that the Lord had been teaching her recently through very tragic circumstances.

“We have created for ourselves an illusion of safety,” Katherine said. “My recent study of Scripture has made me realize that this was NOT Paul’s or the early Christians view of suffering.”

In I Peter 1:6-9, Peter encourages Christians that their suffering has a purpose –

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

I must be faithful to feed the spiritual fire within me through reading God’s Word, hearing Biblical teaching, and listening to the Holy Spirit within me. Katherine’s words clarified for me the truth that suffering is part of life, yes, a NORMAL CHRISTIAN life.

Feeding on the Word of God will keep my fire burning!



I spoke to the students of Smoky Mountain High School’s chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes last Friday. I was so blessed to see these young people and their willingness to get up early and come to school on Friday morning at 7:30 am!

They did not know I was going to talk to them about testing.

“How many of you have a test today?” I started by asking.

I went on to share the following message because I know God is dealing with me about this issue and I know some of you are facing life challenges as well.

Ok, to be honest, if we are alive, we are facing challenges, some good, some not so good, and some outright devastating.

What is the purpose of a test?

Good tests have a very important purpose – that is to show you as a student what you have learned – what you know – and what you still need to study or work on.

Tests are not effective when used as a “gotcha” strategy, to catch the students who did not read the assigned passage, or when used as a punishment. They are not effective when they are too easy and everyone gets an “A”, or when they are too hard and no one passes.

A test that covers what a class has recently learned gives both the students AND the teacher a good picture of what has already been learned and what still needs more instruction or practice.

I am participating in the Community Woman’s Bible study and we are studying I and II Thessalonians. When the following verses came up, I began thinking about testing from a teachers point of view, like I just mentioned.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NIV)

2 You know, brothers and sisters that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.

I asked myself – why does God test us? If He knows everything like the Bible says He does – He knows our very thoughts and the intents of our hearts –

He already knows what I know. God does not need to test me to see how I will do. I believe God tests us so that WE realize where we are in our journey with Him.

If we go through a hard time – do we whine and fuss and think God has turned His back on us? Do we give in to fear?

When we do, we fail the test. The failure shows us what we need to work on.

So do we give up when we fail a test?


We need to ask forgiveness and examine ourselves. I need to read God’s Word and see what He has to say about what I am facing. I need to get with my friends who are Christians and we need to pray for each other in this area.

James 1:2-4

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

The test for me right now is trusting God to show me what He wants me to do with my time. I’ve retired from teaching – but there is no retirement from being a Christian. All of us have a purpose to fulfill in the Body of Christ.

So – we need to thank God for each test,  and just as James says, allow each trial to finish its work.