And all I get for my God-warningsJeremiah chapter 20, verses 9 & 10; from The Message
are insults and contempt.
But if I say, “Forget it!
No more God-Messages from me!”
The words are fire in my belly,
a burning in my bones.
I’m worn out trying to hold it in.
I can’t do it any longer!
Here in our part of Alabama, it’s a bit dry; so dry that trees are begging dogs to “mark” their territory on them. We’ve been under a “fire alert” and “no burn order” for weeks. The state forestry service and local volunteer fire departments are uneasy when they see smoke. Just a small fire can turn into a major event. And all this talk about “fire” has me thinking this morning: Where’s there’s smoke, there’s fire!
I’m having another thought: Where IS the fire? And now another thought: IS there a fire, in you? In ME? Look again at how Jeremiah feels: The words are fire in my belly, a burning in my bones. What words are fire in my belly, a burning in my bones for you? Seems like there’s a lot of fire in people’s words about politics and football. And there is definitely a fire in the words directed between Traditionalists and Progressives. But that’s not the fire we need. As a former firefighter, I can attest that the worst kind of fire is the one that’s out of control. And those fiery words that are being carelessly thrown around are out of control. And folks on both sides of this United Methodist Institution internal warfare need to stop it. It’s getting us nowhere and like a forest wildfire, it’s consuming and destroying us from the inside. And Satan is smiling right now!
We need fire–but not just any fire! We need the Fire that isn’t under our control–but under God’s Control! For way too long we have tried to be in charge of, call it the “narrative” of what God really wants. It’s found in all 3 camps–traditionalists, centrists, and progressives. And our culture is paying a heavy price for our attempts to control this narrative. Folks, Jeremiah got it right! He didn’t want to be God’s Messenger, to speak God Words to his culture. So he tried to hold it in–all of it–like a 50 something man trying to suck up his gut when a pretty woman walks by. But he just couldn’t hold it in; Jeremiah, that is! So, no matter what others said about him, he was going to share God Messages with the people. It was indeed a fire in him.
We need the fire to fall down from heaven. This is the only way renewal and revival will happen. And the only way it will happen is when we stop trying to get others to “get right with God” and have inside of us what Jeremiah calls a: “fire in my belly, a burning in my bones.“ It’s not a coincidence at that particular Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came to set up residence in the hearts of those Disciples and Followers of Jesus, He came in the form of Fire! I want that Fire in my belly, and that burning in my bones! What about you? Are you on Fire for Jesus–or for your particular “brand” of Jesus? Make sure you want MORE of Jesus–a whole lot more! I leave you with a song: