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Tongues of Fire

Greg Stier
Greg Stier

Right now I’m sitting in my red rental car in the cold, pouring rain of St. Louis in front of a Dave and Busters entertainment/dining center. I’m waiting to train about 200 youth leaders or so from all across Missouri (and surrounding states) with a new message that we call “Firestarter.”

There’s something about fire that get’s people’s attention. Yell “Fire!” in a theater and you’ll see what I mean. Watch people gathered around a campfire and you’ll see them staring at the fire. Fire will not be ignored. Neither will the call of Jesus to be “firestarters” in our own churches, communities and workplaces. According to John the Baptist he came to baptize the world with the Holy Spirit (if they accept him) and fire (if they don’t.)

Isn’t it interesting that when the Holy Spirit appeared on the Day of Pentecost He didn’t flutter gently into the room like a dove, nor did He come as a invisible holy “ghost” to indwell the early believers. Instead He blew the doors open with a hurricane force wind and came into the room as (insert trumpet sound here) tongues of fire?

Who the? What the?

What in the world was God thinking here? Of all the visuals of God (Lion of Judah, majestic eagle, Almighty Father, etc) God chooses tongues of fire to visually describe His entrance?


Wait, maybe it’s because that’s exactly what the presence of His Spirit does in our hearts, it reaches up through our esophagus and sets our tongues aflame! The early believers began to speak the gospel in Acts 2 and they never stopped. Even when they were commanded to shut up they refused to extinguish the fire.

Their tongues of fire were finally drenched through death. But by the time they died their tongues of fire had set countless others on fire and Christianity had become an unstoppable fire storm of truth that spread across the early world.

So what do we tend to do in the typical church when that new believer, whose tongue is set on fire with the gospel, begins to tell his or her stories about everyone they are telling about Jesus. We condescendingly imply how “cute that is” and we plug them into a Sunday school class that will use 3 point outlines as a wet blanket to extinguish their flames. Soon they will join the Stepford Christian ranks and conform to the way of the ranks.


I think it’s time to let the Spirit do His job. He is a pyro at heart and wants to set our tongues aflame afresh and anew. He wants to set our teenager’s hearts and tongues aflame.

Well, time to get out of this car and get out of the rain and go inside Dave and Busters to “start a fire.” Pray my tongue is set ablaze by the Holy Spirit.

Unlikely Fighter

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The story of how a fatherless street kid overcame violence, chaos, and confusion to become a radical Christ follower.

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