The Tongue is a Flame of Fire| By T’eoria Murray

Here’s a confession: I am a girl who loves a hot shower – rain or shine, summer or winter, springtime or harvest. I need my water pressure high and my shower just short of boiling. As the water flows, I think of the events of the day or plan for the day ahead.


I will stand under my shower head replaying conversations, analyzing interactions, deciding what I could have done or should have said. I feel free to share all of my feelings without biting my tongue.The timid girl from the office is free to have an attitude, to tell off that coworker, to yell out the car window at that inconsiderate driver. And sometimes, this version of myself that lives in my daydream rears her ugly head in the real world.


Do you ever struggle with the tension that exists between saying the right thing versus saying what feels good in the moment?


I certainly have, and too often, I have allowed myself to give in to the temptation to “put someone in their place.” Angry, vicious words have a way of making their way into a room and infecting the air with their invisible influence. Spreading like a sneaky virus, it can almost be impossible to stop those words. This does not only apply to angry words. Criticism, judgement, gossip, slander, sarcasm, cruel jokes, and complaining all have a way of making their way through a room.


It is especially easy to use words as weapons against the people we spend the most time with such as our family, friends, and coworkers. However, in this age of constant interaction via the internet and the ability to hide behind a computer screen, even strangers and people in authority are not exempt. It is a toxic culture where everyone seems to take an offensive posture, because anyone can be a victim.


Though times have changed, human nature has remained the same. Scripture describes this phenomenon in James 3:2, 3:5-6:


“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” James 3:2 (NLT)


“In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” James 3:5-6 (NLT)


Can you see it? The mean-spirited comment that changes the atmosphere in a room, spreading like wildfire? And just like a fire, once negative words are spoken, the initiator no longer has the power to stop the series of conversations and events that follow.


The gossip or mean-spirited comment has taken on a life of its own. When a person cools down, the comment rages on in another form, on another’s lips. Words said in the heat of the moment can break down friendships that were once solid.


Gossip cannot only destroy a person’s self-image but can ruin a hard-earned good reputation and lead to that person isolating themselves. Because words once spoken cannot be unsaid, this is a situation where an ounce of prevention is better than curing after the situation.


What steps can we take today towards taming our tongues?


Search for the source of the fire


“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Matthew 15:18 (NLT)


Our words reflect our hearts, and fortunately for us, the Lord is an expert at heart work.


Ask Him to show you what is at the root of any patterns of negative speech. Is it insecurity? Bitterness? Pride? Ask Him for discernment to recognize your heart condition and for the desire to lay it down before Him so He can weed it out.


Practice fire safety

“Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear.” Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)


Be intentional about speaking life. Keep an eye out for opportunities to encourage, comfort, praise, and build up. A kind word at the right time can change a life. Just as negative words can have a domino effect, so can positive ones.


Train as a firefighter


You may not be the one who started a negative conversation, but peer pressure is powerful and soon you can find yourself joining in with gossip or complaining because it is just easier not to swim against the tide.


Brainstorm ways to subtly redirect a conversation that is headed in the wrong direction. For example, many of us may find ourselves at work when the conversation becomes a session to sound off on everything that dissatisfies them about the job. This can be an opportunity to empower someone about their gifts and how their presence in the workplace can make a difference or make an improvement in the workplace.


Changing our patterns of speech can be uncomfortable and downright difficult at first. It is a lot like choosing to walk through the trees in the forest instead of the well-worn path, but the more we take this new route the easier it gets.


May we pray with the psalmist David daily,


“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14 (NLT)

Rising from the Ashes| By Ashley Siliezar-Kinchen

“For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29

It was about 8 years ago that I woke up to a screaming sound at 12:28 in the morning. It was my brother who was yelling that the house was on fire. It took me a while to understand what was going on because I was half asleep. I immediately took action and called 911 and woke up my family to evacuate. Believe it or not, despite how hard the fire was on our family, it was an answer to a prayer.

Have you ever prayed for something small and God transforms it into something much bigger? I am sure we have all experienced God in our own special way.

I have encountered God’s greatness in such a personal, yet supernatural way that it hardly seems real at moments.

In the years leading up to 2011, I lived in what seemed to be a storm of my own making. A troubled past coupled with resentment and bad decisions made me a cold person.

However, my father continued to bring my brother and I to church every Sunday. Life for me started to change because of this. But there were still times that I felt alone, like God could not hear me.

I would think, “Am I doing this right?” or “Can he hear me?”

I would think that that maybe He was upset with me because it seemed like some people around me had God’s direct hotline. However, no matter what guilt I felt, I knew that He always loved me and that guilt was the enemy trying to put distance between me and God.

As it turns out, God never abandons his children, and He had always heard my prayers. I did not know it then, but God was planning something that would change my entire life.

“Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” John 13:7

When my house caught on fire, I remember everything being such a blur. However, in the midst of it all, I remembered to grab one thing – my bible. At that moment, nothing else mattered, other than my family being alive.

When we stepped outside, I watched my mother drop to the ground and scream at the top of her lungs. It was painful to watch my mother drop to her knees as she saw everything crumbling in front of her. It was painful to see everything that I have ever known, burning in front of my eyes.

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” Matthew 7:7

My thoughts were racing all over the place, but the only thing I can remember thinking was, “How can this happen?”

But then it hit me. I had to prayed to God to light a fire in my heart for him. Fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit’s actions. I prayed for God to bring me closer to him. My heart was yearning for God’s love. That is exactly what God did.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

The day we lost our house we lost many things. We lost almost all of our belongings and even some of the memories that we made as a family in that house. But as the phoenix rises from the ashes so did we. Although it was painful to see our belongings burned, God always protects and provides for his children. God provided us with amazing people that helped us get back on our feet. He provided us with an even more beautiful home, and most importantly, He kept us safe.

He did not burn down the house to punish but to free me and bring me closer to him. The fire that burned my house down lit a fire inside of me. I yearned for God even more than I did before. Nothing can ever put out that fire.

Forged in the Fire| By Heaven Harris

Did you know that to purify gold, you must heat it up to over 1800 degrees Fahrenheit to allow the impurities to rise and solidify into pure gold? Crazy huh? 1800 degrees! I cannot even fathom anything reaching such temperatures. How amazing that when put through the fire, the gold remains in tact and only the impurities fall off and rise to be removed.  

In almost all of my writings, I never try to hide or belittle the season I am currently walking in. With that being said, since my move out of state, just when I thought life could not get much more difficult, and hoping this move was me entering a season of rest and peace, there I was in the midst of what felt like a hurricane trying desperately to destroy me.

I stand knowing that I know my Father’s voice, and I know He sent me here. However, I was quickly losing sight of any idea of the purpose of this move, and quite honestly, I found myself slipping into bitterness wondering why I was still having to walk through such a hard time. I mean, haven’t I had enough?!

How often do you ask yourself that? How often do we feel tested by the flames only to feel like God is turning up the heat?

John 16:33 (NLT) says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

While in my secret place of prayer and crying out, God brought me to the book of Daniel and the story of three brave men who endured the fire in a very literal way. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego loved God fiercely and with hearts ablaze. They had a good life, good positions, and everything seemed to be going in their favor until King Nebuchadnezzar made a decree that at the sound of any musical instrument, everyone would be required to bow down and worship the golden image he created. If anyone refused, they were to be thrown into a fiery furnace to be burned alive.

This was these three men’s test. This is where it was up to them to either fight fire with fire or dance to the tune of the world’s song and forfeit their faith or trust in the One who had yet to abandon them.  They chose the former. They refused to let the world’s song be music to their ears and they refused to bow to anyone who wasn’t the Lord Most High. One faithful decision left them to be consumed by the flames. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s response…“If the God we serve wishes to save us, then so be it.” And into the fire they were thrown.  

That sounds about right! How many times are we walking faithfully with our King, and it seems He is bringing on the heat? Sweet daughter, there is a purpose in this.  

“Then I, myself, will be a protective wall of fire around Jerusalem, says the Lord. And I will be the glory inside the city!’”- Zechariah 2:5 (NLT)

The ending to the scriptural story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is this…God rescued them and protected them. The fire of God inside them overcame the fire they were thrown in.

How incredible of the God we serve! These men did not falter. They did not give in. They stood on the truths that their hearts burned for, and they fought King Nebuchadnezzar’s fire with the Blazing Son and prevailed! Amen!

If we stand on the promises that have, in the past, burned up every lie the enemy has thrown at us, God promises to be a wall of fire ALL around us, protecting us from any fiery dart the enemy wants to throw at us.

I leave you with a sweet story: I read years ago in New Day New You written by Joyce Meyer, the story shared was about a cute little teacup, shaped and formed in the potter’s hand perfectly, yet had it’s discomforts.  


“A couple went into an antique shop and saw this BEAUTIFUL, MAGNIFICENT little tea cup sitting high on a shelf. And they fell in love with this teacup. As they were admiring this teacup, it began to talk to them. It said, “You know, I have not always been like this! There was a time when I was not attractive at all. You see there was a time in my life when I was just a hard lump of clay. And the master potter came along, and he picked me up and began to pat and reshape me; and I said,” STOP IT! What are you doing? THAT HURTS!  Leave me alone! And he simply looked at me and said, “Not yet.” And then he put me on this wheel, and he began to spin me around, and around and around! And I got so dizzy and could hardly see where I was going anymore! I was losing it! Everything was spinning around and around, and I felt sick to my stomach. And I said; “LET ME OFF HERE!” and he said: “Not yet!”.

Finally, the day came when I had taken on another shape. All of that spinning around finally gave me another shape. All of that patting and molding and squeezing and pinching gave me another shape. And suddenly – he put me into this FURNACE! It is called the first firing. And ‘twas SO HOT in there! Oh, I could not believe how hot it was. I thought, “I can’t stand this! I’m going to DIE in here! ‘GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! Don’t you love me?? Why are you leaving me in here?’ You see, the oven door had glass in it and the master would just look in his eyes AND HE WOULDN’T LET ME OUT!! But he would just smile at me and say, ‘Not yet!!

FINALLY, the oven door opened, and he took me out – set me on a shelf and I thought, ‘Whew! Thank God that is over!’. Then he began to paint me all over with this stinky paint! Changing my color from gray to this pretty blue that I am now! And I said: ‘This stuff STINKS! It is choking me! I don’t like this smell! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT! STOP IT!’ He would just say: ‘Not yet!’.

Then he put me back in a SECOND oven. It is called the second firing, and ‘twas TWICE as hot as the first oven! And I thought, ‘Now, I will DIE in here for sure! This is the end of me. This will finish me off! GET ME OUT OF HERE! I CAN’T STAND IT! I CAN’T STAND IT! Really – I am telling you – I can’t stand it! This is going to kill me! GET ME OUT OF HERE!’ And he would just look through that glass and say: ‘Not yet!’

Then one day the door finally opened – he took me out and he put me up here on this shelf to let me cool off. After I cooled off, one day he came by and he handed me this mirror and I looked at myself and I could not believe how BEAUTIFUL I was! I could not BELIEVE how I have CHANGED! Why, I did not look anything at all like that old gray clay that I started out to be!

Now, I am this beautiful, little, delicate teacup! And EVERYBODY wants me now! But there was a time in my life when NOBODY wanted me; NOBODY liked me; NOBODY paid any attention to me! They just kicked me around; walked on me.  But now- I AM SPECIAL!”

If God is whispering to you, “Not yet,” know that His delicate hands have an intricate plan, and the final result will be more BEAUTIFUL than you could ever imagine.