The Bonfire

 

“Moses looked; there was the bush blazing but it was not being burned up: Β Exodus 3:2

“But when the young man heard these words he went away sad, for he was a man of great wealth.” Β Matthew 19:22

 

So here’s a question for you. What do Moses’ Burning Bush, and the Rich Young Man have in common?

Answer: They were both on fire, but not consumed.

The man in this passage followed all the commandments. But in his concern for the rules, he was lacking the passion and purpose he needed to fully follow Christ. Something was holding him back.

The rich young man in Matthew’s gospel just fascinates me. At first, I thought he was being a show-off. You know the type. A teacher’s pet. The one who does everything right. There he is up there in front telling the Lord that he does everything right. Yeesh.

But now I think this young man is like most Christians who are striving for a holier life. He asks, “What do I still lack?” Don’t we all pray that question at one time or another?

Jesus’ answer begins with: “If you would be perfect…”

I don’t think that he’s asking for a life lived without error. The word ‘perfect’ in Greek means perfection, but it also means ‘coming to maturity.’ Jesus is telling the young man he wants a mature life in the Spirit from him. His riches are not the problem. His love of the riches is the issue. That love keeps him from being fully consumed in the fire of God’s holy, passionate love.

I can relate. I try my best to follow Jesus, but at the end of the day, I can see where I have held myself back. I could have given more. I ran the race, but I didn’t go the extra mile.

  • If I feel that someone is unfair, seeds of resentment start to sprout. If that same person needs help next week, I wonder what I’ll remember. Will it be my resentment or the commandment to love my neighbor as myself?
  • Exiting the highway, I see that same man with the crudely lettered sign that says: “Hungry. Need Food.” I promised myself to make him a lunch. I forgot. Will I offer him some money instead?

To be consumed means I have to lose myself and look outward to see what God sees. To love as God loves. It might hurt a little. But it puts me right in the sandals of Jesus. I am following his model of the selfless servant.

So now I know what I need to do. I have to be ready to give more. Whether it’s time, talent or treasure, I have to be willing to throw it all on the bonfire of love.

As it burns, I can see my old self becoming a memory. The new person that emerges is a little shinier. A little more focused.

Standing in the dark, the fire’s glow reflects on our faces. The Young Man and I link arms. We’re getting there…

 

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61 thoughts on “The Bonfire

  1. This thoughtful piece on that endless trek toward maturity is hitting home for me tonight, Ceil. It’s so often 3 steps forward, 2 steps back.

    Sigh.

    Keep calling to me, Jesus. Keep calling …

    • Hi Linda! Oh yes, I know this dance well. It’s like a samba…to the side, forward and back. I do it all. But I know my goal is to be consumed in his love. So I’ll keep dancing!

      And you said, Jesus will keep calling. What a brother we have in Jesus!

      Have a restful night my friend…we’ll need it for tomorrow’s dance activities πŸ™‚
      Ceil

    • Hi Mari! It’s a hard road, isn’t it? I am still trying to be a little bit better everyday. And I fail all the time.

      I do hope that with each little victory, I’ll be improved a little too. Bit by bit we’ll get there!

      See you at the bonfire πŸ™‚
      Ceil

  2. Hello Ceil,

    That is a good think that you found something new in reading Bible – when God reveal you a new sight about life πŸ™‚ yesterday the sermon in church was about giving more – I can see that God keep confim this to me.

    This is beautfiul thought, and I want to be consumed though it’s hurt.
    Loving Him is such a treasure of life and also a scarifice.

    Blessing,
    delvalina

    • Hi Delvalina! It is really fun to get new insights into bible passages, isn’t it? And you saw your word confirmed in your life…that’s really fun!!

      You are so right that loving him is a sacrifice too. It’s not all gifts and parties. It’s real work for me to love my neighbor, and to learn to listen better to the Word.

      Good to see you tonight! I know you’ve been so busy.
      Have a restful night,
      Ceil

  3. Wonderful post Ceil! The Lord has surely been in my midst today blessing me with much from His Word on this. Mostly,”self-denial” living the”crucified life”. Mark 8:34-35
    The crucified life is a practice, not just a doctrine. To deny self does not mean to deny myself something, it means I literally deny SELF. Like when Peter denied Jesus the night when Jesus was apprehended and Peter was out in the courtyard, he did not deny Jesus something; he completely refused to acknowledge Jesus. He refused to identify with Christ. He refused to line up with Jesus Christ and let it be known that he belonged to Him.
    As you said, are we consumed, do we have a passion and purpose to follow after our Savior?
    Praise the Lord for His Word that instructs us as we desire to glorify Him, and Him alone.
    Bless you!

    • Hi Debbie! You have made a really good point here Debbie. When we are in self-denial, we are aligning ourselves with God. And it’s denying ourselves, not just a practice of refusing to eat, drink or do something. I like the way you put this…very understandable and very important too. Thank you!

      Thank you for visiting, it’s always good to see you!
      Ceil

  4. Great post, as always, Ceil! Whenever I think of the burning bush the words “nec tamen consumebatur” come to mind. I used to attend a Presbyterian church and the minister told me that means “and it shall not be consumed”. These words were on the communion table, carved into the wood.

    • Hi Linda! Thank you for sharing your Latin passage here. Christ is not ever used up, is he. It’s us who need to be consumed with him! What a beautiful inscription for the table.

      Hope you are having a good Monday my friend,
      Ceil

    • Hi Pam! I’d be honored to link arms with you! Thank you for your kind comments, I’m glad you liked the post today. I really loved the image of standing there with the Rich Young Man. I think we have a lot in common!

      Monday Blessings,
      Ceil

  5. This growth to maturity thing is interesting. I think “I’m getting there” and then I am reminded that it is a hard road and I cannot do it on my own. It certainly isn’t going to happen just by standing around and twiddling my thumbs. Surrender to the power and influence of the Spirit in my life. I’ll join you.

    • Hi Bill! Let’s stand by that bonfire and toss in some of our ‘self’. I know what you mean by being on the road. I am certainly never going to be perfect, but I hope to keep trying. With God at my side, I know I’ll find my way back when I get lost.

      I have the Good Shepherd on my side πŸ™‚
      Thank you for your visit today!
      Ceil

  6. This is a wonderful though-provoking post which indeed points to our failings as human beings.

    We all have different feelings by nature. These sometimes make us hold back to giving our all to others. Love of our own comforts, perhaps, lazyness, doubts, whatever. They hold us back from true maturity. As you point out, Ceil.

    God knows these failings because He created us. So He forgives and waits patiently for us to improve … to mature.

    You’re a brilliant writer. I like your modern parables.

    God bless.

    • Hi Victor! Thank you so much for your lovely comments. You are so encouraging! I am so happy that you like the writing here, that means a lot coming from you.

      I think I’m lazy and fearful, which is both a terrible, and terribly powerful mix. If you like going backwards…which I don’t. Thank you for pointing out that God made us, and knows us so well. He’ll Shepherd and encourage and call us home, every time.

      Hope you are having a wonderful Monday πŸ™‚
      Ceil

  7. Ceil, what a gentle reminder to not be satisfied with, as you put it, running the race, but going the extra mile! That passion for Him in the way I live out my every day life isn’t always there.

    I love these words, “To be consumed means I have to lose myself and look outward to see what God sees”. It is my goal, but I often fall short.

    Thank you, Ceil, for sharing such a meaningful lesson!

    • Hi Dianna! Oh my goodness, it’s my goal too! I’m not perfect and am always tripping myself up on the way to holiness. I think the bonfire is an experience that I go through multiple times and will continue to do. All in the name of getting closer to God. It’s worth it πŸ™‚

      Thank you for your kind words today my friend,
      Ceil

  8. Another great message, Ceil. Being a follower of Christ means that we continue to move forward in our maturity and relationship with Him. This means some growing pains as we are conformed to Him. Sometimes I wish it were easier; but then nothing easy is worth having in the end. The things we work toward seem to mean the most. What is greater than Jesus?

    • Hi Kim! Good point about how good things don’t always come without effort. And sometimes that effort is painful! Like metal in the fire, it definitely makes the metal purer, but ouch!

      Jesus is our source and summit. No question. He is the reason to withstand the heat and purification. Thank you for putting it that way πŸ™‚

      Monday Blessings,
      Ceil

  9. Ceil, hadn’t seen the connection between those two before. Very good insights you have shared. There are areas where I exercising that just enough attitude at that is not what is pleasing to God.

    • Hi Wanda! I hadn’t seen it either! I was looking over some Scripture and it just ‘came’ to me. The Holy Spirit was working for sure. I really liked the idea.

      Going above and beyond. And sometimes I have to kick myself in the pants just to do the bare minimum. I have a long way to go my friend. But I’ll keep trying!
      Blessings,
      Ceil

  10. What a great comparison — both burning, but not consumed. Isn’t it funny how strongly the desire to be consumed can flare inside of us at times; and yet, we so often don’t want to surrender ourselves to it. We allow such lesser things to hold us back. What a beautifully written challenge to lose ourselves more in the fire of His love and perspective.

    • Hi Crystal! Thank you for your kind comments. I didn’t think of the comparison myself, it ‘came’ to me, so I know God was there. But it is interesting, isn’t it?

      That’s the Christian life. “I want to but I don’t want to.” It’s just constant. I hope to get better and better, and with God’s help and purification, I will. But it won’t be easy. Good thing I don’t do it alone.

      So nice to see you again πŸ™‚
      Ceil

    • Hi Joyful! That’s the truth for me too my friend. I am called constantly to give, while I fight it some days. Sigh.

      We have God on our side so I know we’ll make it!
      Have a good evening my friend,
      Ceil

  11. This is delightful Ceil. Yesterday’s sermon at church was about serving.

    I’ll back up a bit and tell you a bit of a story here. I shared the love of Christ with my best friend (who lives at the other end of the country) over 6 months ago. This was in God’s perfect timing because she came to Christ. On Friday she called me and asked if I would be okay if she referred her sister to my church. I was ecstatic and said I would even meet her sister there.

    We met at church and the sermon was on serving others. Being like Christ means serving. I’m going to be honest here and say I was a little disappointed. I wanted her to hear about love… God’s perfect love for us and Christ’s love.

    I spoke with my friend last night and shared my “mild” disappointment. My friend said that the love message would probably be too overwhelming for her sister right now. She’s naturally a servant and that this probably would speak more to her.

    This morning my friend’s sister texted me and said she felt strongly compelled to help her neighbour and while they were away she mowed their lawn.

    This message WAS perfect for her Ceil. She naturally has a serving heart. It spoke to her and God knew it would speak to her.

    Sorry for the novella here but your post has once again stirred my spirit.

    Thank you for sharing and blessing.
    xoxo

    • Hi Jennifer! Don’t ever stop writing me novellas. I love them. Especially reading about how your stepped out and influenced another person. That’s just what we are here to be for each other!

      You found the joy in this encounter, even though it didn’t seem like it would work out. God knew what she needed to hear, and she used it to pass it on too. Wonderful!

      Thank you for sharing with me πŸ™‚
      Ceil

    • Hi Nan! Aw, thank you for your kind comment Nan! It means a lot coming from you.

      I’m so glad we are connected through our blogs!
      Hugs to you πŸ™‚
      Ceil

  12. I really appeciated this message, Ceil. I’ve been convicted lately about opportunities before me but I’ve been unwilling to go the extra mile. “To be consumed means I have to lose myself and look outward to see what God sees. To love as God loves. It might hurt a little.” Going the extra mile may hurt but I want to be willing to take those steps towards maturity in Him. To see as He sees and to love as He loves. Beautiful post. Much love. xoxo

    • Hi Beth! I don’t much like getting hurt myself. That’s the problem. To extend means I have to stretch and sometimes, let’s face it, I don’t want to! It’s all steps, those little steps forward. A little shinier, that’s all I can ask for today.

      Thank you for your kind words about the post. I appreciate your kindness!
      Ceil

  13. Great post – I especially like learning that the word perfect also means- “coming to maturity” that really helps me understand it better. I, so appreciate your writing! God bless, Lisa :O)

    • Hi Lisa! You know, that really helped me too. “Perfect” is something I’ll never be. But I can try to come to more maturity!

      Thank you for your kind words Lisa. Hope this was a good day!
      Ceil

  14. I get so frustrated sometimes with my spiritual shortcomings. I’ll never be perfect in this life, but I do desire to become more like Christ. The work cannot be done by me – I must be consumed by Him, just as you’ve said.

    Losing myself – it’s so hard, isn’t it? But it’s what I want.

    “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” (John 3:30, NLT)

    “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20, NLT)

    Yes, more of Him…

    GOD BLESS!

    • Hi Sharon! What wonderful Scriptures you mention here my friend. You are so good at that. You are so right about the wanting more of him, and less of me. Yes! That’s it exactly.

      Thank you for your insightful comment today. You never fail to cause me to think a little bit more about what I write.
      Blessings!
      Ceil

    • Hi Joy! Thank you, I’m so glad we can understand each other. Such a wonderful gift from the Spirit. The feeling of being purified is not always pleasant, but the effects always are!

      Have a restful night πŸ™‚
      Ceil

    • Hi Floyd! I’d be proud to have you with us! No kidding. We all have a great need for each other. For instruction, wisdom, encouragement…thank you for providing that for me.

      Now, on to the bonfire!
      Have a restful night,
      Ceil

  15. Ceil, first and foremost I want to thank you for your patience, as I have been spelling your name wrong, ‘Cel’ instead of Ceil. Please forgive me πŸ™‚

    About the lovely word of encouragement you shared, it calls for reflection. The Lord is always calling us higher, transforming us from glory to glory! Thanks & Richest blessings!

    • Hi Shade! Oh my goodness, I was not upset at all. My married name is Cecilia D’Acquisto, and let me tell you, it gets mangled all the time!! No worries πŸ™‚

      He is hoping that we will agree to be transformed each day. I pray that I will be open to that, and accept the grace he gives.

      Thank you for connecting on Twitter with me. How fun!
      Blessings,
      Ceil

  16. Great post!
    The fire refines us. It gets the impurities out and let’s Christ shine through.
    It’s so easy to look back and see what we could have done better but God is helping me to learn how to look back and see what I did RIGHT! Then I can build upon that.

    we are called to edify each other in the Body of Christ, but how often do we edify others and beat ourselves up? We must learn to see ourselves as Christ does. Flawed, yet loved beyond measure. My son messes up, but at the end of the day I focus on what’s he’s done wrong, I reflect upon all he’s done right, all he’s learning.
    God is helping me to see all I’m learning instead of all I still lack.

    Blessings my friend.

    • Hi TC! What a great concept…to look back and see what I did ‘right’. That’s so much more encouraging that beating myself up all the time.

      I can learn from both successes and failures, but maybe I do stress the failure part. Thank you for this idea. I like it a lot!

      I’m learning too. Every single day.
      Great to see you today πŸ™‚
      Ceil

  17. I didn’t think I had much in common with The Young Man, but maybe I do …

    I liked your thought: “I have to be ready to give more.” Just more, not necessarily everything I have and am (unless, of course, He asks it), but more than what I did the day before.

    • Hi Jerralea! I think step by step is the best way. There have been some people who have been called to give everything at once, but that’s not the norm.

      If I aim to better in each day, that’s enough for me. I think the Lord knows that I am a ‘slow changer.’ But I’ll keep facing that fire, and hope to be shinier today than yesterday πŸ™‚

      Have a peaceful evening!
      Ceil

  18. Hi Ceil,
    In the devotional, The Daily Life by Peter Scazzero, he talks about the burning bush, not being consumed….and how we aren’t consumed by the Holy Spirit as He burns away what is false in us…my paraphrase…it always amazes and humbles me how God wants me to be true to who He made me…for His purpose and good plan…blessings to you πŸ™‚

    • Hi Dolly! The concept of being consumed is an interesting one. And certainly open to interpretation. God knows what he is doing with all of us, but I know he wants me more engaged with him, than with the world.

      Bit by bit, more and more consumed. That’s my hope!
      Thanks for stopping by today πŸ™‚
      Ceil

  19. Hi Ceil,

    Nice to meet you. Thanks for stopping by my post “Why I’m Praying for Your Church.” Sorry for my delay in getting back to you.

    How interesting to link the burning bush and the rich man, playing with the concept of on fire but not consumed. I’ll be processing this for a bit now. πŸ™‚
    Have a great week,
    Jennifer Dougan
    http://www.jenniferdougan.com

    • Hi Jennifer! Thank you for your visit! I’m glad you found the post to be a thought-provoking one. I know I was fascinated by the idea of being on fire, but not consumed…

      Have a good week too! I look forward to getting to know you better πŸ™‚
      Ceil

  20. Hi Ceil,
    As Jesus said, it is more difficult for the rich (and powerful) to enter heaven, because their faith tends to be in the idol of self. Riches are not the problem; it’s the pride and self-reliance that often accompany wealth. I believe that the rich man could not give up his wealth, because he saw himself as a rich man and not as a wretched sinner.
    May we be on fire for Him! Thanks for the beautiful post & God bless,
    Laurie

    • Hi Laurie! I agree with you. It wasn’t his possessions but his attitude toward them. He was stopped up in his love of things, and not consumed by wanting God. But who knows, maybe he got there after all? I hope he did.

      It’s a tension we all face. Loving comfort, and loving God. Sometimes they just don’t mesh. I know I’m a work in progress, just like my friend the Rich Young Man.

      Great to see you πŸ™‚
      Ceil

    • Hi Natalie! I really hadn’t thought about it before either, it came to me while I was reading some Scripture. So you know the Spirit was involved!

      I am sure the Rich Young Man went through many changes after his encounter with Christ. I know I am. I hope to be closer and closer to him every day.

      Thank you for your visit today πŸ™‚
      Ceil

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