Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Fresh fire, Friend!

Last Fall I was in Tulsa for a conference. I had some time to myself, so I decided to check out a breakfast place I had heard about. It was one of those places that was newly constructed but trying to look rustic – too clean and shiny to be real, but the idea was nice. It was located very near a Christian university, so when I saw 2 clean cut young men serving tables, it seemed a fit. I sat facing the cash register in a booth built for 2 In the booth in front of me was an older gentleman, maybe in his 70’s, African-American, with a cane next to his seat. Across the aisle, about 8 feet way, sat two men in their late 30’s, contractor types, working on some kind of project.

Before I got my eggs, the man in front of me tried to get up. His left leg was stiff from some sort of injury. He was probably 230 pounds, and the table would not support his weight as he tried to lift himself. He tried several times to rock back and forth and propel himself to his feet. Each time he thudded back on the bench. I looked to the cash register where the two young servers were chatting with one another. I looked across the aisle to the two husky working men. Nothing. All had looked at the situation, but none had moved to help. I began to simmer. I accused them in my mind of all manner of offenses, from racism, to laziness, to intentional cruelty. I finally lifted my aching, skinny, 67-year-old carcass out of the booth and offered him my hand. On the third try, we managed to get the leverage right and up he came. We were both thrilled that no further injuries were incurred.

After I got past my pique, I began to postulate on why I wound up being the guy to act. Were these other men evil and malicious? Probably not. Were they too involved in what they were doing to notice the plight of the old gentleman? Maybe. Were they sufficiently hardened to the sufferings of others that they felt no personal sense of responsibility that impelled them to leave their comfort zone? Probably. Sad commentaries on our culture aside, how many of us sit in church regularly, hear sermons about God’s blessings for us, speak in tongues occasionally, give some money from time to time, and feel absolved from taking personal action to relieve the distress of others? John the Baptist prophesied that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit and fire. Question: “If we have power and no fire, what good are we?”

Scripture Reading: John answered their questions by saying, "I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to be His slave and untie the straps of His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. (Luke 3:16 NLT)

Somebody Said: “Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

If being baptized with the Spirit gives me power (Acts 1:8), it also gives me fire. Power is ability. Fire is God working in me to burn away the chaff of selfishness and self-centeredness that holds me back from helping others and impels me to get up and do something. Power without fire, to me, seems only theoretical. Lord, give me a fresh dose of fire!

Virgil Stokes

FCF of Tucson
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745

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