10 July 2008

Two phases of Christian life

by Dan Phillips
Stage One: Lots of fire, not much wood.

Stage Two: Lots of wood, not much fire.
Note: descriptive, not prescriptive.

Discuss.

Dan Phillips's signature

86 comments:

JackW said...

A leaf blower does wonders.

sundoulos said...

Kinda depends on what sort of wood gets put on. Green wood doesn't make for a very good fire; but once it's seasoned (provided the fire doesn't go out) you can get a good, hot, relatively smoke-free fire out of it.

Quintin said...

Oh for wood and fire!! Then people wouldn't be so cold!

donsands said...

I love to watch the embers glow in the night before I add more wood to the fire.

DJP said...

(A little fuel for the discussion.)

Jeremiah 2:2 — "Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, 'I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.'"

I recall when I was still in high school, freshly converted, going to a Christian youth group. I think it was the pastor who said very warmly, after we'd talked awhile, that it was so great to be around new Christians, because they (we) were so on-fire, so zealous. That was encouraging to me, but also sad.

The Spokesman said...

DJP: Stage One: Lots of fire, not much wood.

Head over hills in love with the Lord but not very deep theologically.

DJP: Stage Two: Lots of wood, not much fire.

Able to discern between good and evil, between true ministers and false ministers, but fallen from first love.

Kinda like the church at Ephesus in the second chapter of Revelation.

Rick Frueh said...

There are some things that chip away from our first zeal.

1. Disallusionment with others.
2. Doctrinal disputes
3. Personal stumbling
4. Carnal Christians
5. Waning emotions
6. The devil

Kim said...

Guys sure do love fire, don't they? :-)

Fire is good, but nice coals are better for roasting marshmallows.

Mesa Mike said...

"Revival" stage: Lotsa smoke, not much real fire. No wood, just hay and stubble.

donsands said...

When I first began to turn from the world to God, and come to Christ, I loved to go to church, whereas before I hated church (Catholic Church at first).
I think I may have been in a Cornelius mode, (not sure), but I then began to listen to Christian preachers on the radio, and loved the teachings: Warren Wiesbe, D. James Kennedy, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, James Boice and others.
I even liked Robert Schuller back then, though he seemed to leave me with a "What is he saying?" kind of mind.
I was giving tracks to everybody. I'd put them in the trick & treat bags, and in all the Christmas cards.

All that's gone now. I hope I'm a more mature Christian now, but at times I feel like I'm less godly and even more immature.

I guess my light was a spot-light back then, and now is a flashlight at least.

Lee Shelton IV said...

So, this is what Pyromaniacs think about all day? ;)

Lee Shelton IV said...

Stage Three: Now where did I put those matches?

divinesatisfaction.com said...

In keeping with the analogy, it seems that in real life whenever wood is added to fire, it burns. It may take a while to burn if it's green and cause a lot of irritating smoke, but eventually it will burn. (providing the fire was hot enough in the first place)

So then we must ask, "what are we doing with the wood?" Perhaps the reason that the fire of our passion for Christ dwindles is because we are not using the wood of Biblical knowledge, doctrine, and discernment (please insert others here: ______) in the proper way.

For example, to borrow some of the examples from Rick Frueh, instead of allowing doctrine to ignite the flame of our passion for God, we carve that piece of wood into a slingshot and start shooting other people with it...or just clubbing them over the head with the log.

God can also use events such as disillusionment and even our own failures to create a larger passion for Him...but if we ignore the proper response, it's tantamount to leaving the firewood in the pile.

We might also use our "knowledge" to build up walls of protection against hurt and discouragement, where God intended that timber to be used to make our hearts blaze hotter for Him.

This was mostly anecdotal it's an attempt to look into the "why" of why we loose our first love.

Rick Frueh said...

THE MATURING PROCESS

1. Salvation
2. Excitement
3. Biblical growth
4. Teaching

And finally you are an usher at the Bentley Revival. You have arrived!

Hadassah said...

I don't know, Dan. I laid down wood upon wood upon wood before I caught on fire, not the other way around.

Beth said...

Here’s what came to my mind Dan... When we are first converted we are on “fire” for the Lord. We begin to do things that will matter to the kingdom. We spend much of our time reading, studying, thinking about the Lord. We want to go out and spread the gospel. We want to do what Jesus told us to do. If the “works” done in the beginning were from a pure heart, they will endure the fire. In the beginning we don’t have a lot of “wood, hay and straw works”. But for some reason…the world comes in to choke out what was sown in our hearts and we slowly (or quickly) loose our “fire” for the Lord. Increasingly we spend less and less time in study, fellowship, prayer. We don’t have time for the things of the Lord. Or we begin to think doing more will be pleasing to the Lord. We begin to do things to “build the kingdom now”. Now our works become self-serving and unfortunately are made of lots of wood, hay and straw and will not endure the fire.

We loose our first love…

We have to always remember the grace that was bestowed on us. It should be our love for God and that His name be glorified that should propel us in all that we do. Sometimes I think even evangelism is done out of self-serving motives. Somehow the sinner becomes more important and God’s holy name less important.

Garet Pahl said...

John Locke said that "Enthusiasm is founded neither on reason nor divine revelation, but rises from the conceits of a warmed or overweening imagination."

Sure we see the flame of enthusiasm for new found salvation, but from what fuel is the flame coming from- wadded up newspaper or something that will leave behind a glowing ember that will produce more heat bearing fire as larger and larger pieces of hard wood are added?

Anyone who has grilled with coal, or built a campfire knows that the absence of flame doesn't mean the absence of heat. In fact, the hottest fires typically have no flame.

I like Piper's metaphor of adrenal vs. coronary Christians.

Connie said...

Just a quick comment before I head out the door! In Revelation 2:5 the church at Ephesus is told to "remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first".

So, I'm thinking that in Phase One our 'memory' of where we WERE before Christ is really fresh and stirs our desire to 'do the deeds you did at first'. As Jerry Bridges puts it, we need to 'preach the gospel to ourselves EVERY day'.

Seems to me that the 'cure' for Phase Two found in Revelation 2:5 is, to "...REPENT and DO..."

Robert Fraire said...

It is my opinion that most often the early "fire" comes from a mind and emotions still conformed to this world. Maybe flashy, not very deep though.

But the fire of maturity comes from a transformed mind that is able to deeply drink of the Word and put it into practice.

I fear too often we expect and get the fire diminishing when progressive sanctification would argue otherwise.

Romans 12:1-2

candyinsierras said...

Phase One: Arminian. Built my own fire. Tried to fan the flames myself. Played with fire (overly charismatic).

Phase Two: Reformed. A slow, warm, steady fire built by God. Do I wish it was a better fire? Of course.

BTW: Please pray for us in Reno. I personally am suffocating with all the smoke pouring in from California fires. Must be all from emergent, seeker-friendly churches trying to permeate all of us with their smoke-screens.

Matt said...

Anyone who has grilled with coal, or built a campfire knows that the absence of flame doesn't mean the absence of heat. In fact, the hottest fires typically have no flame.

Yeah, what Garet said.

When it's cold up here, and hockey is on TV (Canadian, yes), I love building a fire. I find that the best, most satisfying fires are the ones where I don't let the fire get ahead of the wood, or vice versa. Keep adding fuel as the fire can handle it.

My spiritual life has been the same way. Some of the original shallow emotionalism has waned, but that's not really a bad thing. As I grow deeper in the Word, and in my understanding of spiritual things, God is able to put things on my heart and on my conscience that I didn't previously have the capacity to handle. I expect (hope) this to be a lifelong process.

SDG!

Dave .... said...

How do we Calvinists let this happen? We have a good, practical theology of salvation, but not of sanctification. I rather like Psalm 1 as a template for godly growth in faith. And notice that the fruitfulness is seasonal.

Here's the problem that I think infects the church now (always?). Repentance unto salvation is wonderfully exothermic. Then we pile on the wood of the Word, but we don't attend much to where we "walk, stand and sit" (failure to practice repentance). So we wind up bloated and unfruitful. James was all over this - check your salvation!

Evangelicalism of the Finney stripe looks a lot like Dan's two stages.

David Milton said...

As (authentic) sanctification progresses, especially toward the end of one's life, it seems the fire inevitably returns, not only burning wood, but water, rock altar, ground, and nearby pagan priests.

Solameanie said...

Candy just threw gasoline on the fire. (In phase one and two, not the "BTW.")

ROFL!

~Mark said...

"Stage One: Lots of fire, not much wood."

"Stage Two: Lots of wood, not much fire."

~Stage Three: lots of wood, lots of fire, and barbecue sauce for flavor! (Hopefully)

S.J. Walker said...

"1. Disillusionment with others."
(Dan Phillips doesn't really use that sword, very disappointing)
"2. Doctrinal disputes"
(Good thing I'm right and you're not Rick)

S.J. Walker said...

fire fire fire. It's all you guys talk about! It's like you're all pyro---, oh, never mind.

John T. Meche III said...

More wood would increase the fire. It's not the extra wood that is causing the problem. It's the lack of oxygen. The fire (as it ages) gets taken from out in the open air and put into the sealed container of separatist (sealed off) culture and it eventually smothers. This is done because it is thought that it will protect the fire, but it actually has the opposite effect. The fire has to stay out in the open air AND it must keep being fed the wood (word and Godly counsel), because if it is not fed the wood, the fire will die out as well (syncretism). Age of the fire is irrelevant.

david rudd said...

and when the fire runs low enough, we pick up the wood and club each other with it...

Mesa Mike said...

Lots of "fire" going on in Lakeland.

Maybe somebody should call in these people.

Rick Frueh said...

"Phase One: Arminian."

God ordains many Arminians to be the conduit to effect regeneration on the elect which would seem curious since he could choose anyone.

bassicallymike said...

“Well can I remember the manner in which I learned the doctrines of grace in a single instant. Born, as all of us are by nature, an Arminian, I still believed the old things I had heard continually from the pulpit, and did not see the grace of God. When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself, and though I sought the Lord earnestly, I had no idea the Lord was seeking me. I do not think the young convert is at first aware of this. “
“A Defense of Calvinism”
C. H. Spurgeon

Rick Frueh said...

I do not consider Spurgeon's opinion to be any more authoritative than my own. It is mine for which I will give an account, not his.

DJP said...

Um... I do, though, Rick.

Noiz said...

Im a fairly young Christian (4 years)and this topic scares me to death!! I often hear Christians say to me, "Boy I remember when I used to be on fire like you" or "Just wait you'll calm down". I always hate hearing that because It's kind of a bummer to think I wont have this much zeal in the future. I think that some times less on fire Christians get "burned" and try to defend their lack of fire by smothering mine. I often wonder if some people had a "Man made" fire or a "Spirit made" fire.

As for me, I'm going to pray that God only strengthens and turns my current fire into a "bonfire" that can be seen from space.

Chad V. said...

Noiz;

A genuine lack of zeal would be called "backsliding". That's always a bad thing.

I think it's important to remember that the kind of zeal that most new Christians have is a zeal that is not based on much knowledge. They also tend to lack patience and discernment.

The over-exuberant attitude of many new converts is something that should wear off after a while. Hopefully it is replaced with a zeal that is tempered with patience and discernment. Many Christians do not remember that they are not to cast their pearls before swine.

We never want zeal to wear off, however we do want it to mature.

Never let any one dampen your zeal, but seek to season it with patience and discernment and maturity.

Rick Frueh said...

Dan - do you consider Luther's opinions weightier than your own? He disagrees with Spurgeon so what we all do is agree with preachers in what we agree. We do not accept whatever they say and therefore quoting them, to me, proves only what they believe.

Everyone quotes those who support their view, therefore unless it is exegesis it is just opinion. If we show some Scriptural teaching, that is sometimes different since it shows some hermeneutical process.

The quote Mike posted was Spurgeon's opinion.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Dan,

This could win the Postage Stamp award for best post written that could fit on a postage stamp.

When I read through Acts, the filling of the Spirit and boldness tie together. And then I see Paul ask for prayer that he might speak with boldness---if he needed it, I think I do too. A few times of door-to-door every week, preaching the gospel to every creature, helps me. I experience fire when I obey Him, I think because I allign myself with the Spirit in the Father's mandate (reminds me of mishpot in Isaiah). I often start with fear, but through obedience I experience the fire from the Holy Spirit Whom already indwells me.

DJP said...

I mean, Rick, Spurgeon's opinion means more to me than yours.

bassicallymike said...

Rick, if it helps any, my post was intended as an affirmation of Candy's post more than a response to you.

Rick Frueh said...

:) - A non sequitur that reveals how you feel about me rather than what I said. I realize it is sometimes very difficult to conceal.

Rick Frueh said...

Mike - I understand. I was responding to her chronology and Spurgeon's paragraph. Spurgeon is my favorite preacher and his gospel messages are still anointed.

Pedro said...

Is this only a western country phenomenon?
Could it be related to the superior economic prosperity and lack of physical persecution that we all experience?
Are we not counted worthy of suffering for the cross?

DJP said...

So, my refusal to follow your non-sequitur constitutes a non-sequitur? Interesting.

DJP said...

Kent, I think there's a lot of wisdom in that. I've experienced similarly.

Michelle said...

When I was first saved my enthusiasm (fire) was fueled by the novelty of my new-found faith (I was in with a cool youth group) and pride (I was pretty smart to have chosen Christ when everyone around was rejecting Him). That fire was not very controlled, was at the whim of the prevailing breeze, and it probably would've taken just one bucket of water (trial) to reduce it to a few flickers.

There is an enthusiasm (fire) now but it is fueled by humility and reverence and it is deeper and more sincere. He is my righteousness. He chose me, He sought me and He holds me. I know that if it were up to me I'd fall away ten times an hour. The lessons of experience and many trials make this fire hotter, steadier, more controlled, less likely to burn others, and far less extinguishable!

This is just my experience and by no means how I expect it is for all believers.

Pastor Michael said...

Hmm...21 words. Fallen under the spell of a certain Minnesotan?

Whatever the case, meaty post. Nice contrast from yesterday’s length.

DJP said...

No, Pastor; just showing my wife that I am still capable of the occasional brief post.

(c:

donsands said...

"I know that if it were up to me I'd fall away ten times an hour."

Me too. It's His grace, power, and Spirit, isn't it.

"O Lord, You have deceived me, ... Then I said, 'I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name. But [his word] was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not [stay]." Jer. 20:7a,9

This post has brought out some encouraging responses. Good post and comments.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Spurgeon: "When I was coming to Christ, I thought I was doing it all myself." This is no doubt overstatement. I know of no true Arminian who would ever think such a thing. But if he really believed this, his jump to Calvinism is more understandable.

I have never thought or felt I have ever done anything "all myself." I do, however, recognize the biblical teaching on responsibility. And that doesn't diminish, but enhances and makes all the sweeter the grace shown to me in Christ.

Whitfield admired Wesley's fire. I do, too. May I catch some of it.

The Spokesman said...

Noiz: I think that some times less on fire Christians get "burned" and try to defend their lack of fire by smothering mine.

I experienced some of the same as a young Christian after being saved at the age of 31. The more I grew in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and shared with others the more "Christians" around me tried to extinguish the flame. There were actually times when I thought I was abnormal because of those I thought were normal were actually subnormal. Through this my fire was suppressed but not extinguished. I attempted to hold it back but it was all too painfully like that of Jeremiah - there was a fire in my bones and I couldn't hold it in (Jeremiah 20:9).

The Lord settled this issue for me when He spoke to me to call me into pastoral ministry and in essence asked if I was going to be popular or His spokesman. I answered, "Your spokesman Lord!" Being God's spokesman rather than seeking popularity and glory from men goes a long way in guarding the fire from being suppressed or extinguished.

Be sure that your zeal is coupled with knowledge and fan into flame the gift of God.

Jake said...

Dan - Do you think it's possible that what perhaps appears to be a cooling is really just maturity?

I'm not suggesting that being lukewarm is a sign of maturity. I'm just wondering if sometimes that early zeal basically ends in being obnoxious and annoying. So then perhaps a certain maturity begins to manifest itself and the person chills out a bit. Is that backsliding?

Example: I hope that I'm not as obnoxious as I used to be but I also hope that I'm more mature than I used to be. So if someone looked at my daily schedule it might look like I've "cooled" because I'm not going door-to-door handing out tracts or going to Bible study every night, but I think it's just a maturing process that takes the initial zeal and prunes it, if that makes sense. I've learned to evangelize in the context of day-to-day-relationships. I've learned that going to nightly Bible studies is not the chief end of the Christian life. I'm not sure I'm saying this well, but do you kinda see what I'm saying?

Of course, that's not to say the scenario you're proposing never happens. I'm just wondering if maybe sometimes greater wisdom or maturity might also account for the changes.

Noiz said...

Thank you guys for your responses.

I have seen, even in my short walk, new converts display zeal only to quickly burn out. It is like Chad V. (and Romans 10:2) They have a zeal but not according to knowledge. I guess some are even false converts.

I praise God for giving me a zeal according to the knowledge of Him as revealed in his word and what He has done for me on the cross.

I do hope that He gives me the gift to write like some of you guys!

Spokesman: Im a fellow Floridian to!

Chris said...

I remember being on fire when I first got saved. I would witness to anyone, anytime, anywhere and everywhere. I miss those days, but as I look back I remember that my theology was so off base. Now, I understand alot better, but I can't figure out where that level of zeal went. I prayed more often too. Why can't I have both knowledge and zeal? I remember older christians being astonished at my zeal and would dismiss me as "Don't worry. It'll wear off as you grow."

shaun m. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystal said...

Just thought I would leave a note:
These comments were very encouraging.

shaun m. said...

Concise and true. Lets get some rekindling. Anything Timothy. ;)

Stefan said...

You missed Stage 1A: Not much fire, but not much wood yet.

Stefan said...

To expand the analogy:

Stage 1. The Scoutmaster lights the fire for you, with some kindling to get you started.

Stage 1A. The fire dies down. You wait for the Scoutmaster to pile more wood on, forgetting that the Scout Handbook teaches you how to find the right wood, cut it down, and put it on the fire yourself.

Stage 2. Having learnt your lesson, the Scoutmaster helps you to cut down the wood and stoke the fire, which is now a steady, mature fire.

I keep on harping on this, but this is a lesson I have only begun learning recently. It's therapeutic to remind myself of it.

Chad V. said...

Might I suggest Heaven Taken By Storm by Thomas Watson?

Good for fueling the fire.

peter said...

Dan,

Has anyone told you that you resemble Kevin Youkalis, first baseman, Boston Redsox?

Rick Potter said...

I'd been doing a little reading and decided to pop in and see what was going on at Pyro. This was the last thing I read before coming here......very prophetic Dan!

"Anyone who sees a contradiction between the [Reformed] doctrine of perseverance and the numberless admonitions of the Holy Scriptures, has abstracted perseverance from faith. Faith itself can do nothing else than listen to those admonitions and so travel the road of abiding in him. For admonition distinguishes the true confidence, which looks for everything from grace, and the other “possibility,” which is rejected on the basis of Christ and the Church. So admonition is at the same time both remembrance and a calling. It points out the way of error to those who travel the way of salvation, and it exhorts them to keep going only in the true way.… These admonitions, too, have as their end the perseverance of the Church, which precisely in this way is established in that single direction, which is and which must remain irreversible—the direction from death to life!"


G. C. Berkouwer, Faith and Perseverance (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1958), 116–17, 121

Source: Reymond, R. L. (1998). A new systematic theology of the Christian faith.

Stefan said...

As I have slowly read over all the comments, I see a pattern: many people started out zealous for the Lord but naive theologically, with deepening theology being part of the maturation process.

For me, I've gone through the general pattern described by Dan and others, but the specifics have been different. I was led by God to a crash course in the doctrines of grace so soon after my rebirth (it took all of five months), that the "early zeal for the Lord" phase of my walk was characterized by rapid eating up of heavy theology and church history, but with very weak practical application: lots of knowledge, but very little wisdom.

The maturation phase (which I am only at the very tippy-toe shallow end of), for me, is about learning how to live out my knowledge in practice, and, to pick up on Rick Potter's quote, to square perseverance with "the numberless admonitions of the Holy Scriptures."

For me, the flames are the knowledge. The wood is the wisdom. To put it another way: an immature Calvinist talks the walk. A mature Calvinist walks the talk.

~Mark said...

Hey noiz, keep the zeal brother! I'm praying for you. :)

DJP said...

Dan,

Has anyone told you that you resemble Kevin Youkalis, first baseman, Boston Redsox?


All the time.

Or, more accurately: no.

Stefan said...

By the way, when I wrote "lots of knowledge" above, that should be read as: "less knowledge than a gnat's, compared to anyone else who reads this blog."

Hugh said...

Stage one is self explanatory for anyone who has flirted with stage two. Stage two is because you think the reformation is over.

danny2 said...

i had this conversation with an older pastor one day. he was going on and on about how some day i won't be as sure about things. as i "mature," the fire will die out some. he shared stories about how the fire used to burn bright and strong with him but how in his older age the fire has died down.

(the hard thing is, though...i don't really want to become a pastor like this man. in fact, the pastors i really admire seem to have more fire and more wood later in their life.)

when he finished sharing, i just had one question for him...

"do you miss the old days when you had fire?"

he stared at the table and softly said "yes."

Mike said...

You don't need a match to start a fire, man. You use your tongue.

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan said...

Hugh and Danny2: I hope the kind of lazy disengagement or jaded disillusionment you describe is not what Dan was referring to.

The passing of that flash-in-the-pan first blush of love is probably part of the natural cycle of life (unless brought on by backsliding).

The key is to hold on to that joyful exuberance, but let love for the Lord mature from initial excitement to deepening obedience.

I think of the older believers in my church—the ones who have been walking in God's ways for decades. The fire still burns in them, but it is tempered by the experience gained from a lifetime of living out the Word of God in their ministries, work, families, and the world. As others have alluded to, they're more like greyed-over charcoals, which burn hot but give off no flame.

BrettR said...

Three necessary elements for fire: heat, fuel, and oxygen. Who provides the fuel (wood)? Who provides the heat? Who provides the oxygen? In what sphere does our responsibility belong?
The times in my life that there has been very little flame is when I have tried to separate the elements that I have been freely given (a fire that I have no ability to put out completely). I will stop and enjoy the fire that I have not earned.

Susan said...

I, too, have a stage 1A, but only applicable to myself:

Not much fire, not much wood.

I'm in the backsliding phase.

No, I never wanted this to happen--many unpleasant things have happened within the last 3-4 years and I've becoming increasingly hardened. I'm close to giving up. Yet the strange thing is whenever I feel like giving up completely, I remember that HE CAN, even when I can't.

I guess I still have a bit of embers left. Better do something about it before it's too late! (Hosea 14, Jeremiah 31:18-20, Ezekiel 33:10-11)

Susan said...

That's "I've become increasingly hardened".

Hugh said...

Stefan, I sincerely believe that a good deal of the disillusionment that characterizes many "Stage Twoers" comes from discovering they've been given pat answers and no one wishes to discuss the difficulties with those pat answers.

There's still a lot of bad doctrine out there that we've been telling ourselves is good doctrine, because it was certified by such and such confession or has the weight of history behind it.

I ask constantly, "What have we reformed lately" and the answers I get back amount to "nothing, because even though we say we're not perfect in doctrine, that's just for show, we really are."

Susan said...

I just reread my comments above and realized that perhaps a clarification is needed: when I referred to "giving up", I was thinking about my faith and circumstances, NOT my mortality. Not that anyone would necessarily misconstrue it that way, but just thought I'd make it clearer.

Michelle said...

Susan:

Our fire is fanned through perseverance and our sanctification is accomplished by the Truth, the Word of God. Are you in the Word? Are you meeting with other believers?

Obedience/walking in His ways is a choice, no matter the circumstances we face. I have always found that when I stray away from Him, the Holy Spirit draws me back like a magnet. Resisting is a choice to disobey but I'm never content until I submit once more to Him.

If you belong to Him, may you be who you are. I'll pray.

Susan said...

Michelle,

Thank you for praying. The problems, as you have so perceptively pointed out in the form of questions, have to do with with church and the Word. I'm in a situation where my hurts were compounded by certain people that I haven't gone back to my old church in about a year. (I started fading in and out over three years ago, starting with the first heart-wrenching hurt, but last year saw a definite cut-off point in my attendance.) Even though I still attend church services (just not there), things just haven't been the same. Not surprisingly, it's been hard to concentrate on the Word. The passages that I cited in my first comment of this thread are passages that have appeared "randomly" to me frequently throughout this period and the 1-2 years before it. (I say "randomly" because sometimes I would just open my bible randomly and these verses would come into view--and they seem to speak straight to me!) Praying has also been hard (which is why Dan's "prayer" post several days ago was a good reminder not to give up).

Anyway, TIWIARN. I don't intend to stay in my own Stage 1A, but so far I see myself as those Israelites in Isaiah's days who were ever seeing and hearing but never perceiving and understanding (Isa. 6:9-10). I know I wasn't completely right in how I handled certain things, but some things can never return to the way they should have been, and I'm at a loss as to what to do from this point on. May the Lord lift me out of this pit safely and soon--by increasing my desire to trust him in everything again.

Yepiz said...

Both lack the spark that comes from the match...Jesus Christ!

What good will EITHER do if Jesus is missing?

But to answer somewhat, I find that people that have "no fire" tend to be solid Biblically but are somehow "Retired." I guess they never read the end of Joshua). The "all fire no wood" tend to be the ones who look for the rollercoaster ride of "spirituality."

My two cents...and as a college student that means I now have no money. Thanks a lot guys.

A.M. Mallett said...

The LORD will supply all the wood needed to keep that fire burning bright.

Tim Brown said...

My conversion was, I believe, 10 years ago this month.

Started out very confused and struggling due to my analytical nature.

Over the years I've had to deal with disillusionment from others and remember we trust God, not people. This has been an ongoing process and it took years to get it through my thick skull. Sometimes I wonder if I "get it" now, even.

I think I'm gathering wood, looking for a lighter.

Stefan said...

Hugh:

I get what you're saying.

But in this enlightened, postmodern age, my interpretation is just as good as your interpretation. ;)

I blame Dan for being sufficiently vague as to not fully reveal authorial intent (which is just such...such a...modernistic concept anyhow).

Hugh said...

Nah, everyone is entitled to MY interpretation.

trogdor said...

Last weekend, my wife and I went to a family reunion and saw a bunch of people we hadn't seen since our wedding ten months ago. Every ten minutes or so, someone would inform us that our obvious affection for each other was a sure sign we must be newlyweds, and we'd get sick of each other soon enough. "Oh, you still like each other? Yeah, that'll stop." The expectation for many of them was that marriage begins with all passion, but once you get to know each other and "reality" hits, at best you settle into a nice routine and tolerate each other, staying married out of convenience.

Then we spent some time with good friends that've been married about 30 years. They've been through trials like nobody should ever face (such as: of eight total pregnancies, only thee were born alive, and only one remains today) - they've faced "reality". And to hear them talk about marriage was so utterly different and incredibly encouraging. To them, they know each other better than they'd ever imagined possible - and instead of causing stagnation, it's driven their love to be ever deeper and more passionate.

So thinking through this post and the comments, those differing views on marriage keep coming up. For so many, it seems faith is like my extended family-in-law's view of marriage. Sure, it's passionate at first. But then real life hits, and you find out how things really are, and the excitement of the newness wears off and you just get used to it. The affections cool off or die entirely, and you settle into a routine (if you don't just walk away entirely). That's the expectation - and that's beyond sad. The thorny and rocky soils are not supposed to be the norm for either.

On the other hand, there are those who come to faith with great joy. And the more they learn about God, and get to know Jesus, and go through all of life's trials - the deeper knowledge leads to deeper love and affection. Even in marriage to a sinful, imperfect person, it's possible - no, we should expect and not be satisfied with less - that greater familiarity breeds deeper love. Why should we settle for less with a perfectly lovely God? How can our affections not be inflamed when we see more of his glory?

Susan said...

What a lover-ly picture you painted, Trogdor. Thank you for sharing your thoughts--reading them really encourages and blesses me, especially when I am having an extremely hard time believing that God does not discipline me out of wrath but out of love.

John said...

trogdor - AMEN!!

God's whole idea behind his chosen community (this bride of Christ) is that we love and support and encourage and admonish each other to faith in Christ. In love. Through the Holy Spirit. Beautiful picture.

So let's read His word and seek Him anew daily. Great men and women of God knew their God.