Burnt Offering

“The Holy Spirit, making life alive, moving in all things, root of all created being, cleansing the cosmos of every impurity, effacing guilt, anointing wounds. You are lustrous and praiseworthy life, You waken and reawaken everything that is”

St. Hildegard of Bingen

“Fuego” is the my favorite Spanish word. It’s a strong word with a sense of force. Long before you know what it means, you know it holds power. You know it’s force that changes the atmosphere. “Fuego” is the Spanish word for fire. While living on mission in Peru, I would hear the word fuego constantly in worship songs and from the altar. In fact, it surprised me how often I heard the word fuego in Peru. I wondered why I didn’t hear it in the states from the pulpit as often in Peru.

I humbly share that on that last mission trip I most certainly got schooled in fire. Both in what it means to build a fire, but also what it means to be purified by fire. One is certainly more fun than the other, but freedom never comes with out some painful purification. How else does mental bend? It requires a whole lot of heat from the fire of God’s love. During the purification the great accuser deceptively shows up, but the devil’s heated evil is no match for the Lord’s holy fire.

Now I love watching a roaring bomb fire. How it moves in its’ own way; beauty, force, and grace. Additionally, I enjoy siting in front of a fire place taking in the warmth and heat of the blaze waiting patiently to see how long it takes for the fire to burn out. There’s a special romance, force, and grace that causes me to be captivated by fire. The memorizing colors, the ever changing direction of the flames, and the rising and falling i temperature of heat.

“Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.” Mark 14:54

Looking back I’ve always loved fire. When I was a kid we had a fire pit in our back yard and it’s there I learned to build, stoke and start a blaze. Now along the way, I made a few mistakes and that hasn’t ended, my mistake making that is – its’ still happening. True story.

When I was a kid, myself and other neighborhood kids set the woods on fire next to our house. Accidentally, of course. Yes, we were playing with fire. Thank God, my Dad was home. He instantly came out of the house running when we called for him. He quickly grabbed the garden hose and put the fire out. To say there was no sense of panic among us kids would be a lie, we knew we were in over our heads. Looking back we could of created a very serious and destructive situation. Even though we all got yelled at for this occurrence it never stopped me from loving, playing with or building fires then and now.

I’m no Girl Scout, but friends I’ve camped with, hiked with, or visited their lake houses know one thing I can do is build a blaze. I love fire! That is still all true. All you need is the proper kindling and an igniter, and just about anything will burn. It’s all in prepping of the build. That applies in both the natural and supernatural.

Some say to receive fire one must walk through fire. We see fire as a destructive force. That’s absolutely true in the natural world. Fire can burn down a home, a business or take a life. It wasn’t so long ago large parts of California were over taken and destroyed by wild fires and most recently in Australia.

However, in the supernatural fire burns away all has the potential to be destructive, all that is impure. It has the ability to bring the heat which forces a change. In order to get there you have to be willing to walk through fire which includes pain and death to self. Fire humbles you and your need for God. It’s a dance of surrender that through God’s grace, you let God not only lead the dance, but the tempo too. These are not moments or seasons consolation, but purification.

The word “impure” according to Webster’s means mixed with foreign matter or morally wrong. Some synonyms are; immoral, sinful, corrupt, wicked. The complete opposite of holy. Yet, holy fire has the potential to melt all that away, like the refiners fire. The fire that burns away all that is not God, the half truths, the masks we wear, the sin we carry, the false beliefs we live under with weight.

Additionally, fire has power and force. The power to cleanse, heal, deliver, raise, and change a life. Fire illuminates, purifies, and protects. Fire unifies all to ash for the raising of a new creation. Fire transforms one into the image of Christ. A living and risen Christ to a broken world full of hurting people.

God’s fire is a force to reckon with as it has no rules, boundaries, or limits. Like Moses in the burning bush the fire consumes, but does not over take. What would it feel like to be consumed by the fire of God’s love? The saints all wrote about the fire of God’s love, but it’s not just a past time. The fire of God’s love is available to all of us. Here and now.

However, if you desire holy fire you have to be open and willing to walk through it first. When Moses encounters God in the burning bush, the bush is not consumed. He tells him to take off his shoes for he’s on holy ground. It’s a place of surrender, yield, release, a moment in which you let go of you and receive more of God. A place in which you are powerless and poor in spirit. A place of humility and poverty in knowing “you” are not God, but are willing to kneel in awe before the one who wants every part of your heart. For God doesn’t just want your heart, He desires your very life.

Like the story of Gideon and the 300 who laid down their swords in the book of Judges. Will you lay down your sword and come to the end of yourself and the beginning of who you are meant to be. That’s a place of vulnerability. A place one kneels to drink instead of cupping the water their own way. It’s doing a new thing! To drink like that you have to be willing to let go and drop your control and kneel to stand for God.

There is something about having no shoes like Moses that strikes us deeply in our core. Think about a tragic accidents in which one’s shoes are knocked off. A homeless person sitting on the street with no shoes. A small child in the poorest of villages running about barefoot. Maybe you’re one who resists to see or looks away, but the Lord is inviting you into a wildfire, a passion-filled rumba, the dance of freedom. A place of encounter that never leaves you the same. Will you be like Moses and take off your shoes for the Lord? Will you be the solider who yields and drops to their knees to drink in the Holy Spirit this Pentecost?

We often desire the fire of the Holy Spirit in a way that makes us comfortable like calling for a cat, as revivalist Randy Clark says it’s like saying “here kitty, kitty”. Only God comes how He comes, sometimes like a gentle breeze, sometimes like the roaring Lion of Judah, and sometimes like the refiners fire.

If you want God on your terms you might as well not ask for more of God, because it then becomes matter of attempting to control God instead of letting God be God. Similar to allowing ourselves to be who God is calling us to be and not anyone else. Do you fear what others think of you more than you fear God? We so often put God in a box, but God is calling us out of the boxes we created for ourselves. The graves in which we hide. Our safe places. Truly boxes and graves of death and not life. These boxes and graves have no kingdom life. It’s rotten fruit and dead bones! It’s the status quo.

“Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts. But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” Mal 3:19-20

God desires to purify and purge the earth of evil, but for that to happen we must decide are we in or we are out. This is where the rubber meets the road. The time is now. Not tomorrow, next week, next month, or even next year, but now. When one seeks peace, joy, or any other happiness outside of God they will always be met with frustration and emptiness. True peace, true joy and true freedom only comes in union with God. I believe we all want to yell out Freeeedom…..   like Mel Gibson’s character in the movie Braveheart. More than willing to die for freedom, William Wallace was willing to die and up hold the honor of his bride, Marion who he sees laid out in a crucified form on the battle field at the end of the movie.

On the surface of things it sounds easy to die for freedom and truth, and yet you will be met with division, opposition, and possibly crucified. The holy fire one shares in charity with Christ will bring healing to many souls in need, but for others it will be a source of division. Therefore, there will be rejection, and accusation in an attempt to cause isolation. The evil one is the true accuser. Remember it was his attempt to isolate Adam and Eve using shame in the Garden of Eden, but shame is not your name.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

Jesus warns us, “It’s not you they reject, says the Lord, but me!” So when you’re in the midst of being burned on the stake for what you believe in the faith like St. Joan of Arc remember the good company you keep. You can let the Lord’s fire burn in you creating further purification of your heart making you better and holy or you become bitter and hardened of heart. Sanctity is a beautiful thing, but it ain’t easy. The Holy Spirit, the source of truth is the great sanctifier.

Ultimately it’s your choice if you want to be a sweet fragrance to those around you or a bitter herb that causes division and even death, knowing full well that even His sweet fragrance still causes division today. Since wood burns and God is in the resurrection business there is nothing to fear. So let surrender be your song and every hallelujah of rejoicing be a symphony to the heavens above. Because the choir of angels dance with you. Now is the time to let the Lord burn all your unholy wood and allow Him to raise you from the ash.

The cost of discipleship is not cheap, but nothing truly valuable comes without a price. People fear leaving their home or job as a cost. Maybe, the Lord will ask that of you. I do not know. However, the cost maybe less material and tangible, but just as great if not greater. You might be asked to stand for injustice and speak out in truth which will most certainly cause heads to turn, eyes to roll, and yes division. You might be asked to step into dark places and stand alone. You may find yourself in a boxing ring when people try to ruin your character and reputation with false accusations and out right lies. You might be on the outside, now looking in to a place or group you once belonged, but have since been booted out. And you might be asked to give the ultimate sacrifice, to give your life for a friend. True love is always a gift of self, that’s sacrifice. It’s pure. It’s what Jesus did on the cross.

Celebrating Pentecost in Piura, Peru at a school.

“Fire. While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the sacrifice on Mount Carmel. This event was a “figure” of the fire of the Holy Spirit, how transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes “before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Jesus wills say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with himself. The spiritual tradition has retrained this symbolism of fire as one of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions “Do no quench the Spirit.” CCC 691

The choice is yours. Like Moses and the Israelites you can keep moving forward or turn back. The question becomes will you stay when God says stay and will you go when He says go? Will you stay attuned to His promptings when you look foolish to others in following Him? Are you willing to let the fire of His love purify your heart even when it includes the cost of the cross which it always does. There’s no resurrection without the cross. You can’t rise from the ashes without the burning.

Fire always falls on sacrifice. In the book of 1 Kings 18:38 we read “Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice and the wood and the stones and the dust, and also the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice and the wood and the stones and the dust, and also kicked up the water that was in the trench.” The fire from the Holy Spirit burns so fiercely it consumes everything. It’s a display of the Lord’s power.

There are multiple other places in scripture where we see fire and sacrifice including animals. Ultimately, if you desire the fire of the Holy Spirit you have to be willing to go to the altar of sacrifice because there is no other way, but to lay down, drop your sword, and die to self. It maybe bravest thing you’ll ever do, but ask any spouse who’s laid down at the altar of sacrifice and gave of themselves to their bride or groom and they will tell you it’s them most life giving thing they’ve ever done when it’s done in self-gift.

It’s in the dying we become powerful and dangerous. God doesn’t want passive disciples who just sit back in the pews on Sundays and do nothing else. Oh no, His desire is for you to be dangerous in the world because then you’re a lion in the kingdom with a roar that makes the devil run.

The Lord is looking for all in disciples ready to slay giants in His name. Twelve simple men changed the world after Pentecost. What could a few on fire disciples do in their immediate sphere of influence? Let your praises of how good God is be your roar.

God desires for you to

Catch the Fire

Become the Fire

Spread the Fire

“You must desire the fire, and claim your flame!” – Reinhardt Bonnke

Will you claim your flame? Are you willing to be a vessel for the Lord’s holy fire? What’s your “all in”? God is raising up a generation to build a kingdom culture on fire for Him and His people. What are you willing to sacrifice to service Him? The Lord is asking some reading this post to be a fire starter and some to help stoke the fires already started. Will you be the match when called to start the fire? Will you bring the gasoline to increase the blaze when asked to pour yourself out? Ultimately will you burn for God and His kingdom?

My prayer for you is that as you read, pray, and contemplate these questions that the fire of God falls on you and you respond “yes Lord”! For Pentecost is coming……

Come Holy Spirit. Come with the fire of your love. Purify you’re people, and your bride the Church to build the kingdom here on earth. Come Lord Jesus Come!

No, God is not safe, and He has not called us to live safe lives. He has called us into a wild, passion-filled rumba, and yet it is the dance of freedom. Faith is, after all, a dance of the heart. It dances with God in the dark, as it does in the day. Many days it was very dark. Oh, but the music played on. All I can tell you is that God is great at being God that year.” – Lifegiving, Discovering the Secrets to a Beautiful Life, by Tammy Maltby & Tamara Farah.

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