Day 57 – Fan the Flames

1 Thessalonians 5:19 – Do not quench the Spirit.

Devotion: The spring breeze stirs within my kids the desire to fly kites.  My children start singing the popular musical song, Lets Go Fly a Kite, as they frantically search for last year’s racer or beg for a new box kite.  We run across the street to the open field where we launch our light frames of plastic and paper aerials into the sunny sky with the tails whipping in the wind.   The joyfulness continues until lines tangle, tails tear, or the wind stops blowing.  It is the informal start to our summer fun.  Nothing ends the amazement of loftiness like malice and mischief, like the time my brother shot my kite out of the sky with his bow and arrow.

In the church, nothing squashes a good idea like immediate criticism by someone called to love.  How many lofty ideas have started to spread their wings in the springtime of life only to be shot down by the flaming arrows of “friendly fire”?  How many people’s passion for the church have been snuffed out by those called to fan the flames of faith? [1]   Or how many youth have their spiritual excitement extinguished by the deluge of ridicule or unwelcome comments by older generations?  Too often the spark of the Spirit is quenched by the drop of fire retardant ridicule from super-tankers in the sky attempting to prevent a forest fire.  Once the Spirit is suddenly cooled, the faithful lose heart and heat for the cause of Christ.  It is difficult – but not impossible – for God to fan into flames the passions and desires of the Spirit after they have been suppressed.

Paul wrote the Thessalonians: Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not stomp out the creative spark and contagious energy in the congregation by disrespect, criticism, and complaining.  The Spirit is the giver of life[2] which enflames believers to greater devotion, dedication, and service for Christ in the world.  Paul appealed to the church to exercise fifteen virtuous acts that give lift to other people’s faith, passions and ideas. The lifting up of one another will fill the sky with the banners of faith for the entire world to see.  Then, we will be more like Jesus who was careful to fulfill Isaiah 42:1-4: A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.[3]

Prayer:  Father, I confess that I’m more likely to shoot people’s ideas down than lift them higher.  Forgive your church for its unwarranted criticism and cynicism by the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.  Send your Spirit to sweep through your congregations with fresh wind that lifts us higher and higher, until the entire world sees your glory in the heavens.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen. 

Prayer Exercise:  “Anointing for Healing,” page 150, in Patricia D. Brown, “Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God,” (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003). ISBN: 0-779-6565-0. Copyright © 2003 by Patricia D. Brown.  All rights reserved.  

[1] 2 Timothy 1:6

[2] Nicene Creed

[3] Matthew 12:20

About Dr. Ivan E. Greuter

A native of Nebraska, Ivan accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior and experienced a call to the ministry at a young age. He graduated from Kearney Senior High before attending Ottawa University (Kansas) where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He attended Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, IL to earn a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Care and Counseling (1999) and a Master of Arts in Philosophical Theology (2002). In 2014, Ivan earned a Doctor of Ministry in Missional Spirituality from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary. His dissertation: “Searching For God When You Have Lost Your Dogma: The Promise of New Life for an American Baptist Congregation by Increasing Passionate Spirituality through Devotional Consideration of the Doctrine of the Trinity and Natural Church Development.” He served as the senior minister at First Baptist Church of Wood River, Illinois (1999-2006), and Central Baptist Church of Quincy, Illinois (2006-2016) prior to joining the staff at West Side Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. Ivan enjoys French cooking, fly fishing, gardening, and playing games with family and friends. Ivan and his wife, Rexanne, live in Topeka with their three children – two daughters and a son.
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1 Response to Day 57 – Fan the Flames

  1. Jakay Steckler says:

    What a wonderful example and how true of what happens “even within churches”. We all have to start somewhere, with something or with someone. It doesn’t mean we all have to think the same but give each person the opportunity to find a way, thought, or action to follow Christ. Let each person share their thoughts, listen, and then show that love and respect to all, not selected persons or areas. One may have a passion or gift for a certain area but know that all have some gift and one is no better than the other, just different. Jesus does not judge us by who we are. All He wants is for all of us to love him and each other. We certainly have enough love in our church to serve as God wants us to, not always what we have in mind but what the Lord has intended. Praise God for each amazing “kite”, large or small, that we see flying to do His mission with a love
    beyond ourselves.

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