By Tom Flaherty

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.  They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each one of them and they began to speak in tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” Acts 2:1-4

Every year I do a study leave in late January with three pastor friends at a cabin without any heat except for a little wood stove.   Our friend who owns the cabin goes a day before the rest of us to get the fire going, so the place is warmed up for our arrival.

Another one of the pastors brings a mini-van full of wood because the fire needs to keep going 24/7 while we’re there.  All events that week take place near the fire – study, worship, cards, our ministry to one another – everything happens in front of the light and heat that come from the fire.  Each of us take a part in keeping it going which involves opening the door and throwing another log on, and once in a while, removing excess ash.

The fire comes dangerously close to going out each night while we sleep.  In fact, it often appears the fire is out and is only smoking, but we know better.  Just breathe on those coals a little and they will come back to flame.

What does all this have to do with us?  This cold, dark world needs the fire of God’s Presence to draw them to Christ, and to melt the hardness of heart that easily occurs in our culture.  The church is to be carriers of the Spirit’s fire.  How do we do this?

1.  Recognize that human energy and zeal don’t start the fire, the Holy Spirit does.  A tongue of fire “came to rest on each one of them.”  The Holy Spirit is the Friend who gets the fire going for us, all we have to do is tend it and remove excess ash once in a while.

2.  Sometimes the fire seems to be out when we fall asleep spiritually.  We must recognize the danger of spiritual sleep, but also know that Jesus does not put out a smoking wick.  He promises to nurse it back to a flame when we yield our lukewarm hearts back to Him (See Matthew 12:20; and Revelation 3:15-20).

3.  Fellowship together is like wood on the fire.  We are warned to not forsake regular meetings together (Hebrews 10:24-25) and are told to “encourage one another, day after day, so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).  The fire fell when “they were all together in one place.”  God has designed us to need Him, and to need each other.  We all know that an ember separated from the fire will quickly burn out.


Tom Flaherty is the Lead Pastor of City Church in Madison, WI.

One way to keep that fire burning by applying all three of Tom’s points is to plan to join us at our upcoming National Conventions in the USA and Canada.



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