In an article from ABC news affiliate reporting on the growing wildfires in California an opening line reads:

“On day six of the battle against the destructive Holy Fire, crews gained ground, increasing containment to 41% .”

As a Christian who continues to pray for firefighters battling the so-called ‘Holy Fire’ in California, I must also use the news as a leverage point for conversation.

When you think of holy fire, what comes to mind? The descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2)? The Spirit’s refining work in the life of the believer? The wrath of God? In the church we invite God to “Send your fire,” but how does the world hear that prayer?

Fire has a purging effect and it is rightly fear producing. Which also means that we, as believers, must handle the use of the word and its power with great care. When we sing, “Send your fire,” what do our non-believing neighbors and those who may have never heard of Pentecost hear?

And what do those same neighbors think of when they hear the word holy?

God is holy and God defines holiness but what does that mean? Is God’s holiness demonstrated in creation and redemption or just wrath?  While holiness includes God’s absolute moral perfection and therefore reveals sin as that which is contrary to holiness, does God’s holiness exist prior to and apart from sin and if so, what does that mean?

God is holy before and apart from the reality of our sin. So God’s holiness encompasses and reveals perfect beauty and goodness in all of its truth. And who fears beauty? God’s holiness may be a cause of fear for those who reject God’s ways, but God’s holiness is also like the flame to which moths are drawn in for those who long to be near Him.

Now, back to our prayers for those suffering in the Holy Fire and more than a dozen other fires raging in California alone. Holy God, send refreshing rains, dampen the wind, encourage and protect those on the front lines, and use this in ways we cannot currently imagine to reveal your glory through restoration and new life.


Listen to my conversation on Connecting Faith with pastor Jim Howe whose church in Redding, California is literally in the hot zone.

Holiness, fire and the Holy Fire

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