JAC Online

Incendiary Thoughts
by Captain Andre Togo and Major Stephen Court

God himself is Fire! (Hebrews 12:29) The Message

"The time has come for fire."  Catherine Booth.

At a 19th century Council of War, Catherine Booth exhorted:

The time has come for fire.  All other agents have been tried; intellect, learning, fine building, wealth, respectability, numbers.  The great men and the mighty men and the learned men have all tried to cast out these devils before you, and have failed.  TRY THE FIRE.  There are legions of the enemies of our great King.  Fire on them...  Charge on them, pour the red-hot shot of the artillery of heaven on them, and they will fall by thousands.

The word incendiary has uses that allude to negative consequences.  But if you apply it as Booth does ‘fire’ here, you see that the negative impact of the red-hot shot of heavenly artillery is experienced by ‘devils’.  What’s negative for devils is positive for us!

But the word, as we intimated, has positive connotations as well, as Booth’s husband William, co-founder of The Salvation Army, describes:

How much more might be done if you had all received this Pentecostal baptism in all its fullness?  If every soul were inflamed, and every lip touched and every mind illuminated, and every heart purified with hallowed flame?  The whole city would feel it!

God’s people in every direction would catch fire, and the sinner would fly on every side. Difficulties would vanish, devils be conquered, infidels believe, and the glory of God be displayed.  As it is written, every valley would be filled, and every mountain would be brought low, and the crooked path would be made straight, and the rough ways would be made smooth, and all flesh would see the salvation of God. (William Booth)

That’s incendiary!  It’s explosive, wild, rapidly expansionist, overpowering, contagious, and efficacious.  But what is it, specifically?  The Salvation Army’s prophet of holiness, Commissioner Samuel Logan Brengle, explains:

What is this fire?  It is love.  It is faith.  It is hope.  It is passion, purpose, determination.  It is utter devotion.  It is a divine discontent with formality, ceremonialism, lukewarmness, indifference, sham and noise, and parade and spiritual death.  It is singleness of eye and a consecration unto death.  It is God the Holy Ghost burning in and through a humble, holy, faithful man or woman. 

We’re talking about God the Holy Spirit so igniting in every person fire swiftly proliferating in more and more people, ‘burn(ing) up every trace of sin[1]’, that supernatural transformation is left in its wake.

Burn Out Or Burn On

“Your message is like a fire burning deep within me.  I try my best to hold it in, but can no longer keep it back.” (Jeremiah 20:9 Good News Translation)

We know a senior leader who met up with a newly commissioned Salvation Army lieutenant who, on the edge of the gathering, confided that he was suffering from burn out.  The commissioner wondered at that – after all, he'd just been ignited! 

Jokes aside, don’t burn yourself out.  You’re not much use to the salvation war if you burned out.  Burn on.  Yes.  But don’t burn out.  Burn like that bush Moses came across while shepherding.  It didn’t burn up or burn out.  It just kept burning…

One day, Moses, “guided the flock far away from its usual pastures to the other side of the desert and came to a place known as Horeb, where the mountain of God stood” (Exodus 3:1. The Voice).

There, the Special Messenger of the Eternal appeared to Moses in a fiery blaze from within the bush. Moses looked again at the bush as it blazed; but to his amazement, the bush did not burn up in flames. (Exodus 2:2. The Voice)

(and, look, a few verses later (v6), the One in the fiery blaze identifies Himself as God!)

How did it burn without burning out?  Well, God was IN IT.  Incendiary!  So, God In Us.  This is a mind-boggling concept, a re-enactment of the immaculate conception, that miracle of 8 pounds and 3 ounces, the Creator of the Universe shrinking Himself down to fit into the womb of a teenaged girl.  This is more than conversion and justification and regeneration here (not to belittle salvation).  Paul was writing to convinced Christians when he prayed, “God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings” (in Ephesians 3:19 The Voice).  That’s a fire flood of love as God Himself fills and saturates our beings.  This is some supernatural incendiary infusion and ignition, highly combustible and HOT!

Afraid of burning out?  Look at Isaiah 55:3,8-13:

3   Listen closely, and come even closer. My words will give life,
for I will make a covenant with you that cannot be broken, a promise
Of My enduring presence and support like I gave to David.

Eternal One: 8 My intentions are not always yours,
and I do not go about things as you do.

9   My thoughts and My ways are above and beyond you,
just as heaven is far from your reach here on earth.

10   For as rain and snow can’t go back once they’ve fallen,
but soak into the ground
And nourish the plants that grow,
providing seed to the farmer and bread for the hungry,

11   So it is when I declare something.
My word will go out and not return to Me empty,
But it will do what I wanted;
it will accomplish what I determined.

12   For you will go out in joy, be led home in peace.
And as you go the land itself will break out in cheers;
The mountains and the hills will erupt in song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands.

13   Prickly thorns and nasty briers will give way
to luxurious shade trees, sweet and good.
And they’ll remind you of the Eternal One
and how God can be trusted absolutely and forever. (The Voice)

Could it be that burnout, as we know it, is not so much a matter of too much work as it is working without listening to God, so that our work is not rooted in His covenantal purposes for us and the world?  Isaiah 55 answers with a resounding 'Yes'.[2]

So we are challenged to make our moments sacred, to redeem all of our time, to imitate Jesus in doing what we see Father doing (and praying, “help us to see what You’re going and do what we’re seeing” from John 5:19), to find my fuel (like Jesus at the well with the woman who got saved) in that seeing and doing more than in our favourite desserts and pastimes and several soft hours on two pillows. 

The miracle of the burning bush might more appropriately be known as the miracle of the fuelless fire.[3]  God needed neither the bush nor Moses to keep burning.  The Fire keeps burning.  We just need to embrace the Flame.  

You see, the Fire can distinguish between character.  Look at the three Hebrew boys in Daniel 3.  They audaciously disobeyed the king’s command to idolize him.  Threatened with punishment in a fiery furnace, they replied (3:17-18):

If you throw us into the blazing furnace, then the God we serve is able to rescue us from a furnace of blazing fire and release us from your power, Your Majesty.  But even if He does not, O king, you can be sure that we still will not serve your gods and we will not worship the golden statue you erected. (The Voice)

Wow.  So the king took them at their word (3:21-23):

Then they were picked up and thrown into the furnace of blazing fire.  The furnace was so hot and the king’s command carried out so quickly, without any precautions, that the soldiers who took Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego up to the furnace were themselves killed by the heat of the raging fire.  And the three Jews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, tied and bound, fell into the furnace of blazing fire. (The Voice)

The Fire consumed the soldiers by its raging heat.  The Fire is destructive to the demonic.  But look at how the three Hebrew boys fared.  In the shocked exclamation of the king (3:25): “I see four men, walking around freely in the fire, completely unharmed! And the fourth man looks like a son of the gods!” (The Message).

The officers, prefects, governors, and king’s advisors moved closer to see what had happened to these men. They, too, could hardly believe their eyes. The fire had done nothing to harm these men. Their hair was not singed. Their clothes were not scorched. They didn’t have the faintest smell of smoke on them. (Daniel 3:27. The Voice)

The only thing that burned was the bindings!  The fiery furnace freed them!  They were walking around.  And it provided the context for intimacy with God.  They were walking around with one who ‘looks like the son of the gods!’[4]

So, let’s recap.  The evil doers are consumed.  The bindings are consumed.  The Fire brings freedom and intimacy. 

Who among us doesn’t need that?  And who, on those cold desert nights, doesn’t need the warmth provided by the pillar of Fire?[5]  It brought the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace freedom and intimacy.  If God is burning IN you, you will not burn out.  You will burn on.

Today is your special day.  Are you ready for the Consuming God to ignite His fire in your inner soul today? Are you running away from His calling? Are you turning down this special invitation to blaze you in the Spirit? Look up and see Jesus reaching out in love. His warriors are flaming fire, are you In or Out? Are you burning on? God is looking for you to pour His hot flaming spirit out on you and let you burn on!!




[1] This line comes from a song called SEND THE FIRE, by William Booth, in the second verse:

God of Elijah, hear our cry:
Send the fire!
To make us fit to live or die,
Send the fire!
To burn up every trace of sin,
To bring the light and glory in,
The revolution now begin,
Send the fire!

[2] Sunder Krishnan, THE CONQUEST OF INNER SPACE. p13.

[3] We also read that in Sunder Krishnan’s book.

[4] We’re talking, quite possibly, of a preincarnate Christophany – that is, Jesus Christ showing up IN the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew boys!  Tertullian, Augustine, and others hold this position (see Barnes’ Notes On The Bible; Ellicott’s Commentary For English Readers; etc.).

[5] Exodus 13:21.  Commissioner Stuart Mungate highlighted this benefit the pillar of Fire provides.










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