Hebrews 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
I had the privilege of growing up in a very depressed area in Southern Missouri during the post WW II era. I was privileged because I got to see first hand, what it was like to live without modern conveniences. We didn’t even have a radio (battery) until I was 5 years old. When I was 7 we got electricity. We drew our water from a well and raised our own food. We never had indoor plumbing until we moved to Colorado when I was 10. These are things that most of Americans have never experienced, except for short periods of time, but it was our life style.
One of my memories is that of our one heating stove in the living room. The fuel was wood which we cut from the stand of trees along the back of our property. I learned about the importance of keeping the fire going at a very early age as it was our only source of heat during the winter. Our house was not insulated so keeping the fire going was a constant need. My chores included keeping plenty of wood stacked on the porch for easy access, and carrying the ashes out every morning. I learned a lot about what it takes to start and maintain a fire to keep warm.
Today’s post deals only with maintaining a fire once it is going. The first thing that I learned was that you need a bed of coals. This will enable the wood to catch fire as it is being added as it raises the temperature to assist in ignition. If the wood is wet, it will dry it out. It is a bridge between the wood and the flame. A bed of coals begins with dry tender and then you add kindling (small pieces of wood or paper) to gets the fire going. Because it is very dry and has a lot of surface area, it burns fast and hot which kindles the larger wood into flame. The bed of coals is the wood that is already burning and its flame enables the larger wood to catch fire, just as the leadership in a church helps the new member to find their place of service in the fellowship.
Keeping the fire going is called “tending the fire“. As the fire burns it needs “Stoked” from time to time. Stoking the fire is moving the logs closer together so that they will burn better. As a fire burns, the space between the logs gets larger and the benefit of one log helping another burn becomes less so that the fire will die down and produce less heat. By stoking the fire you move the logs closer together and the fire will burn hotter. Because change is constant, there will always be a need for stoking the fellowship to enhance it’s effectiveness. We used to do this with periodic revival meetings, mission conferences and other such efforts but in today’s society we have moved further apart and hardly even know the other members. Unless this is corrected, the fire will die out and the church will be left cold. The fire needs stoked more now than it ever did before and as we approach the coming of the Lord it will become even more important.
The story is told about a church who had a member who had begun to attend less and less so the pastor dropped by one day to visit him. The two of them sat by the fire and never spoke but after a while the pastor got up and went to the fire and pulled one of the sticks of wood out of the fire but let it set on the edge of the opening, by itself. Pretty soon the flame that was going so well when it was first removed, began to lessen until it finally died out completely. After a few minutes the pastor got up to leave without ever saying anything. As he got to the door, the man said to the pastor, I got the message and I will be in church this Sunday. People who know how to tend fire, know how to be the live coal to rekindle the flame in others.