Don’t Play with Matches and Other Bad Advice

Don't Play with Matches and Other Bad Advice

One blistering hot day, I stepped off the deck and found my daughter holding a magnifying glass over a smoking leaf. She used a cheap toy to magnify the power of the sun’s light in order to start a fire. I complimented her use of scientific principles and then reviewed fire safety principles with her. Don’t start a fire—not with matches, not with a magnifying glass, not by rubbing two sticks together. Isn’t that how we are with the Holy Spirit sometimes? Don’t play with holy fire because it’s dangerous.

Our dear friend Smokey the Bear teaches us, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” We learn from an early age to leave the matches alone. Fire is hot. Fire is bad.

We sometimes get the same message about the Holy Spirit. “Only you can prevent an awkward moment in church.” We learn about the third person of the Trinity in Sunday School. Then silence. Just like our childhood lessons about matches and flames, we get the feeling the power of the Holy Spirit is something to fear, something to avoid.

Play with Fire (Holy Spirit)

Play with Fire

The truth is fire can be a very good thing. Fire purifies, heats, lights, and burns away what is unwanted.

In Bianca Juárez Olthoff’s new book Play with Fire: Discovering Fierce Faith, Unquenchable Passion, and a Life-Giving God, she asks us to give in to the fire.

There is a God who hears you, and sees you, and loves you, and He is with you in the midst of the fire. Don’t be afraid of the flames or the furnace, because it is in the midst of the fire that you will be changed. It is in the fire that you will experience the presence of God. (Bianca Juárez Olthoff)

Giving into the fire can mean a loss of control. Setting the Holy Spirit loose in our souls requires letting go of our expectations, our dreams, and our perceived ability to plan our way out of a jam.

I am, by nature, a planner and a controller. I prefer to live within the boundaries of safety. To give the Holy Spirit room to rework my plans, even reset my destination is a scary thing. Allow him to move me past the guardrails I establish—that’s just crazy talk!

I knew the Holy Spirit intellectually, but I didn’t know the Holy Spirit intimately. I stood back and watched the flames from afar, but I needed to dance dangerously close to see the Spirit’s beauty. (Bianca Juárez Olthoff)


The Beauty in the Fire

A blaze gone awry sounds like a nightmare, but the Holy Spirit running wild is beautiful.Click To Tweet

A blaze gone awry sounds like a nightmare, but the Holy Spirit running wild is beautiful. His fire refines the impurities, leaving behind a crystal clear reflection of himself. The flames burn away the box we put God in so a holy revival can break out. He calls us out from our comfortable life into a well-lit, abundant life.

That was the moment I asked the power of the Holy Spirit to come upon me and empower me to do what God had called me to do; be strong and courageous, keep moving forward, and don’t quit in the desert. It was powerful and scary, but it was also beautiful. (Bianca Juárez Olthoff)


What survives the fire will determine what is truly valuable and real.

As I walk in this desert season, a time when my plans fail me and my dreams dissipate, I am ready to play with fire. I surrender to the flames so all that is useless can burn away. Even though I am a little lost and a lot uncertain of what lies ahead, I am sure of this one thing: God keeps his promises. He uses the power of the Holy Spirit in me to light the way.

To move out of our desert wilderness wonderings, we need to be willing to take a step into the unknown. There will come a time when we either believe God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do, or we will continue to wander aimlessly because we are too afraid to inherit what has been promised to us. (Bianca Juárez Olthoff)

Are you ready to let the power of God run wild in you? Get out the matches; let’s play with fire!

Are you ready to let the power of God run wild in you? Get out the matches; let's #playwithfire!Click To Tweet

Do you feel stranded in the desert? Deep in circumstances that are out of your control? Sitting at the graveside of your dead dreams? Be sure to grab a copy of Bianca Juárez Olthoff’s Play with Fire. Let her story fan the flame in you!


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Photo credits: Peter John Maridable via Unsplash.

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  1. Thanks for this review of what sounds like a truly powerful book!

  2. Sounds like a book I need to check out. Thank you!!

  3. I am ready to play with fire.
    I love that!

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