Tag Archives: fire

Fill ‘er Up


It was two incidents close together that drove me back into Scripture. The first came at suppertime. I was in charge of grilling the burgers. As usual, I fired up the grill, closed the cover and went back inside while it got up to a good temperature. I soon returned to the grill and opened up the cover to place the patties in the prime places – except when I opened up the cover I felt no heat. It didn’t take long to realize the tank was out of gas. Apparently there was just enough gas in the line to provide an initial flame but no more.

The second incident occurred just a few days later. Knowing two of our grandchildren would be at our house over the 4th of July, we had purchased some sparklers. So we broke the m out with great       anticipation and excitement. We then realized we had only a few matches – and our butane lighter was all but empty. But no problem, we’d only use 1 match and light the sparklers from the sparklers. So we lit the first sparkler – it feebly spit out sparks for a circumference of about inch. And it lasted about 5 seconds – no time to light another one. Thinking it was just a dud, we used another match to light the next one. Turns out they were all duds! There just wasn’t enough flammable stuff on the wires to produce any sparks of significance.

As I thought about these two related incidents later, I realized that “If you want to fire up, fill ‘er up.” No gas, no fire. No flammable material, no fire. Consider Acts 19:1-12.

“While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all. Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.”

 The fire didn’t flame up until the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. “If you want to fire up, fill ‘er up.”

I began to think of all the times I have tried to do things in my own power, to produce something I wanted, to bring about a result I could cherish – only to have it burn out. I forgot to make sure the vision or idea was Spirit driven. “If you want to fire up, fill ‘er up.” And I thought about all the times I’ve flamed out, burned out, quit flaming – because I had been running on empty and not taken the time to be refilled by the Holy Spirit. “If you want to fire up, fill ‘er up.”

It’s a good reminder for me. If I don’t want to flame out, if I want to burn brightly, I need to be sure the Holy Spirit’s on board. Otherwise I’ll be just flash that never grows up into a fire. “If you want to fire up, fill ‘er up.” In fact, I wonder what would happen if I began each day with a prayer: “Holy Spirit, set me on fire.” Perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll only do those things and say those things that will keep the fire burning. And perhaps, just perhaps, my fire will set others on fire – until the world is on fire for Jesus. Will you burn with me? Perhaps, just perhaps “God (will do) extraordinary miracles through (us), so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that … touch (us will be) taken to the sick, and their illnesses (be) cured and the evil spirits (leave) them.” “If you want to fire up, fill ‘er up.”


That Good Old Salty Language

One of the toughest things for me to control in my life has not been my budget, my circumstances, my ministry, my mind, or even my behavior. It has been my tongue.

Considering what’s going on in our country right now, I have a hunch I’m not alone in this. And it’s important to understand, as Proverbs 18:21 bluntly states: “The tongue has the power of life and death…” How we use our tongue, the words we say and how we say them, is literally an issue of life and death.

Our tongue can destroy life. James 3:5-6 bluntly states “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” Have you ever been burned by the tongue of someone who, with a few choice words, cut us to the quick? How many of us as parents have not, at some point in time, said something that burned and harmed our children? The tongue, like fire, does lasting damage.

Why does it do this damage? Proverbs 18:8 says, “They go down to a man’s inmost parts.” The image is that words, like food, are internalized, digested, and carried around forever; they live on long after they have been spoken. James even goes as far as to say the tongue, words, can kill (3:8): “It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Growing up I learned to say, “Sticks and stones will hurt my bones, but names will never hurt (kill) me.”  It is nice to have a positive attitude, but I have learned that it is not that simple. I have ministered to too many broken people, and have been wounded enough myself, to know words can maim and kill. A talkative woman once tried to justify the quickness of her own tongue by saying, “It passes; it is done with quickly.” To which evangelist Billy Sunday replied, “So does a shotgun blast.”  I wonder how many people have been severely wounded because of the out of control rhetoric that fills our American air (and airways)?And the damage is not limited to those who are the targets of the words – it reaches those who speak them. Proverbs 13:3: “…he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.” A quick tongue damages everyone in its wake. That’s why Proverbs 10:19 (TLB) states,“Don’t talk so much. You keep putting your foot in your mouth. Be sensible and turn off the flow.” I wonder how many people have regretted or will come to regret their inexcusable words because of the self-inflicted pain they will suffer?

It’s fair to ask: How many words of sarcasm have you uttered this week? How many insinuations have you made? How much blame have you pushed off on others? What about those “jokes” that caused more hurt than laughter? And what about the name-calling you did in jest? Or the gossip you passed along? How have you spoken to or about your mate, children, parents, coworkers, and leaders?

Yet there is a solution: The same tongue can be a positive instrument – it can build and give life. Paul wrote in Colossians 4:6: “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” The tongue can offer healing grace. It used to be said of old sailors, “They use such salty language”, and it was meant as a negative as it referred to their foul language. But Paul says we are to season our words with the salt of grace.
Some people care enough about others to say the right things while other people care only about releasing their venom. As someone said, “The difference between a gossip and a concerned friend is like the difference between a butcher and a surgeon. Both cut the meat, but for different reasons.”

So how many words of praise will you utter? How many words of thanks? How much love will you express? How much affirmation will you give? How much honor will you give through what you say? How much salty language will you pour out?

I challenge everyone who reads these words to lead the way in healing rather than hurting, in giving life rather than killing. Paul wrote (Ephesians 4:29): “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” So let us bring our hearts under the captivity of Jesus Christ. Let the Holy Spirit speak to us before we speak to others. As Beth Day wrote back in 1855 we must always ask three questions before we speak: Is it true? Is it needful? Is it kind? And to that I would add a fourth: Is it of God? William Norris has penned it cleverly: “If your lips would keep from slips, Five things observe with care: To whom you speak; of whom you speak; And how, and when, and where.”

Let’s get back to some of that good old salty language. With the Psalmist we need to pray (Psalm 141:3-4): “Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil…”