Matthew 16:24 “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Matthew 3:11 “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We are Being Baptized with Fire
A couple weeks ago, I posted that I was quitting my part time airline job to focus more of my energy towards the house of “Worship, Prayer, and Discipleship” in the city. Since this decision, my life has blown up. We’ve seen trouble in our finances, relationships, and a general sense of ‘pressure’. Our faith, family and finances are being stretched.
1 Peter 4:12 Says: “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you;” Also, in 2 Cor, we read “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” All this to say, I don’t think any of this pressure is a coincidence, and this makes me happy. The resistance gives me comfort that I’m on the right path.
2 Cor 6 “…in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;” Paul knew the enemies schemes well, and made it his pursuit to be honest and remain in Christ’s love. This is our pursuit. To let the Author and Perfecter of our faith continue His work until we are perfect in His sight. We believe we aren’t writing our own story. Jesus has plans for us. It’s our job to stay connected to Him and see what He will do with us.
I really do believe that God is calling my family towards this project. James says “faith without works is dead.” What I’m finding is that Faith is fun when it stays as a dream. When faith grows legs, obstacles present themselves at every corner. My faith has been challenged to see past these obstacles, move others out of the way, and refine my focus on Christ. All the while, I’m aware that I can’t make ‘this project’ my focus. There’s dangers in both ditches. Ditch 1=”doing nothing”. Ditch 2=”doing everything in my own strength and leaving Christ behind”.
My faith needs to point me to God’s heart. My treasure is not found in the world. My pursuit can’t end with a project. God’s winnowing fork is on my heart, and He is separating some bad stuff [fear, anger, resentment, ect] and burning it away.
Scripture I cling to:
Hebrews 12:12 “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.”
My wife and I have been under constant and unnatural friction. This is very unusual. For the 10 years we’ve been married, we’ve never had a time like this where our relationship feels hard. We’ve always felt ‘meant to be’ and it’s been relatively easy. Even as we sold the house, we had joy together in the process. Now as we’re turning the corner from dreams to reality, things are getting more difficult.
Amos 3:3 “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?”
God is refining our motives, our comforts and roles as we work on loving each other through our differences. “A new commandment I give you…love each other.” The pressure of moving, the uncertainty of our future, and finances have all put weight and friction on our relationship. The winnowing fork is on our hearts, and we must learn to love each other through our fears. “There is no fear in perfect love, perfect love drives out fear.” I am confident we will grow in our love and understanding for each other. The friction is causing us to grow together and not apart.
Scripture I cling to: [our marriage verse]
Ps 84 What joy for those whose strength comes from the LORD,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
it will become a place of refreshing springs.
The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
They will continue to grow stronger,
and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem
We’ve been in a realllllly long season of ‘eating from His hand’. For the past 18 months, my business has been slowly and progressively drying up. God has continually provided the things we need as we need them, but we have not had any ‘comfort’ or extra at all for a long time. We’ve dealt with little before when we were first married. I worked 3 jobs to pay rent, but that was 10 years ago. We’ve been steadily making more and more money as God has blessed us through this business over the last 8 years. Now it’s hard to get used to going backwards and figure out a budget without any real steady income.
God is trying to teach us to depend on Him for today, and only today. I keep thinking of the Isrealites and their manna. They were told to collect what they needed for 1 day only. If they tried to sneak extra, it would rot. I want extra. I want to know I have enough for next week and next month. It makes me nervous and attacks my manhood to have such lack. I have always taken pride in providing for my family, and it’s been really tough for me to try to take literally the idea of God being my provider. I struggle with questions about whether I’m doing the right thing, whether I should look for another full time job, and I’m basically freaking out.
In addition, the project house has been broken into twice over the past month. On the first occasion they took the copper, so I re secured all windows and doors. On the second, they used a tool to break the lock on the exterior door, then kicked in the interior door. They cracked open a wall to look for the copper (I presume), but then settled for my tools.
This is again where faith comes in. If God is really leading us here, I have to believe He will provide for us here and keep us safe in the process. I feel foolish trying to explain our path to anyone. I am gaining more appreciation for our fathers listed in Hebrews 11. By faith, they left everything to obey. By faith, they picked up their cross and followed.
Hebrews 11 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Scripture I cling to:
Phil 3: “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
In all these things, I really do rejoice. I am so grateful that I have a Heavenly Father that doesn’t leave me as an immature baby. He is training me and causing my faith grow. The hope would be in five years, I look back and see how these things strengthened my faith. I’m looking forward to loving my wife more honestly, to trusting God more intimately, and to seeing dead hearts come alive in His presence. I can see it. Even if this project doesn’t turn out the way I plan, my heart swells with the thought of hearing “Well done, Timothy. You spent your talents well.” I don’t want my works to burn. I want the Winnowing fork of Christ to pull these things away now so that I may know Him better now and so that I may have an eternal reward with Him. I want to be baptized with the “holy spirit and with fire” now. I want to remain in His love today. He is worth it all.