Fire. That one word can evoke a wide range of thoughts, mental pictures and emotions. Fire can be very dangerous and destructive. Wind and water damage to a home is often limited and can usually be repaired. But a fire, if allowed to run its course, will destroy everything. Due to a September drought and record high temperatures, restrictions on burning have been placed on most of Georgia. If you have driven down the J.R. Allen Parkway in the last few days, you have probably noticed the black, burned spots at a couple of places in the median, probably the result of a tossed cigarette. At least one patch of pampas grass became a burnt offering (probably NOT very pleasing to the Lord!).
But fire can be beneficial. Foresters and land managers know the several benefits of controlled burning. The engines of commerce and travel are predominately powered by combustion. And there is nothing that can take the place of an open fire on a chilly night, for warming our hands, relaxing our minds and roasting our s’mores! (Will those nights EVER return???)
I find it very instructive that the first manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the Church involved fire. Acts 2 describes the sound of a mighty rushing wind and the Spirit resting on the believers as tongues of fire. Have you ever stared into a fireplace and watched the flames dance? You can see the “tongues” as they move around the wood and try to imagine the scene that day at Pentecost. The fire that fell that day was a beneficial fire. It brought power and motivation, courage and inspiration. The Holy Spirit is the power that fires the engine of the Church! And the flame of the Spirit is burning in the heart of every believer in Christ.
The late, great Dr. Charles Allen was speaking at Lake Junaluska several years ago. I have always remembered the challenge he gave us that day: “Get on fire for Jesus Christ . . . and people will come to watch you burn!” It is my prayer that the churches and the people of the Northwest District will be known as a people on fire with the Holy Spirit, demonstrating a consistent witness to the grace and truth of Jesus.