Thursday, March 10, 2011

Burn, Baby, Burn!

By Brenda Black

For months we tossed sticks and leaves, dumped old straw and moldy hay into a pile at the end of the driveway. Neon orange baling twine lay balled up or bedraggled across the growing heap. We added dozens of logs from a downed tree, sliced into campfire portions. All winter long, that dying, rotting concoction of earthen and fabricated refuse remained until about a week ago when it met its match – and we torched the whole thing!

I thought it would take days for those huge logs and the tightly packed yard waste to fully burn. But in a matter of hours, all that remained was ash. It started fast and hot and with every poke, it glowed hotter. When we fed it more combustibles that needed discarded, it flamed high and smoke billowed from adding fuel to the fire.

A log would roll out once in a while as the burning beast shifted from underneath where timbers already began to crumble into coals. With a quick kick back into the flames, the dying embers on the log were reignited instantly. Smoke boiled and curled upward and drifted barely since there was little wind. I watched like a child, mesmerized by the force, the heat, the speed and the unrelenting path of the flames. I dared to move closer for the warmth. And backed away from the powerful heat.

Some things never cease to amaze me, like this fire. It is frightening, yet comforting. It is destructive while refining. It is horrifically powerful, but can be doused with but a bucket of pure water. No wonder the Lord spoke to Moses from a flaming bush (Exodus 3:2) What better to display his force than licking up a trench of water with fire from heaven (1 Kings 18:38). How else could the Holy Spirit come but in tongues of fire (Acts 2:3). What fear should be evoked to know that God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). How better to spread the Gospel message than with the tongue of man, which like a spark, could set the world afire for Christ (Matthew 28:16-20).

Are we still impressed with the power of God or the purpose of the cross? Do the stories of the Almighty, Omnipotent Holy God burn within us? Or have the flames that once leaped high and hot, died, and we, as the body of Christ, look like ash.

Author, Tim Hansel suggests in his book Holy Sweat that “we are no longer shocked” by the historical account of Christ's crucifixion. “We can get more concerned over the death of our pet goldfish than what happened to Christ on Golgotha. The story has become so familiar and commonplace like the other stories in Scripture, that it no longer shocks us, no longer repels, no longer arouses us. At times, it may not even excite us.

“Yet the people who crucified Christ never thought Jesus a bore. The fact is they thought he was fiery and dangerous to public safety. It was left up to us through the years to turn this Person 'meek and mild,' smiling harmlessly from a framed portrait on a wall. Yet he was the farthest thing from a dull man during his time on earth. And since he was God, there can be nothing dull about God, either.

“But let me take this one step further...Could we then not say that God's nature has something to do with his will for our lives? That is, when we say 'God is love' we aren't just referring to some mush of divinity, some ectoplasmic Valentine, but that since he is love he wants us therefore to be loving. When we say that God is just and forgiving, then we are to be just and forgiving in return. Who God is – that is what he wants from us. The way God is – that is the way he wants us to go. The statements of God in the Bible are boomerang-shaped. They come back to us. So if he is by nature astonishing, then he wants us to live a life of wonderment in return. He says, 'Astonish me!'”

Hansel challenges the Christian to get fired up! “God is saying to us, 'Don't just exist. Don't just meet my bottom line. Don't just get by. Don't just go through the motions, acting holy, sleepwalking through life.'”

We have a choice – to burn, baby, burn or just fizzle, grow old and cold and die. When the Lord who died for you comes in blazing glory, as Judge and a Consuming fire, how do you want to be found? Cold as ice or full of FIRE!

2011 copyright - For reprint rights, please contact author, Brenda Black at

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