In the second-floor lobby of our church hangs a large painting of an early 1900s Salvation Army street meeting in New York City. The war cry, or motto, of the Salvation Army was “BLOOD AND FIRE.” Blood represented the blood Jesus shed to save all people, and fire represented the Holy Spirit, who was sent to equip believers and transform lives.
Catherine Booth, wife of William Booth, the founder the Salvation Army, understood the importance of fire as a symbol for the Holy Spirit. Known as the mother of the Army, Catherine became very famous in her own right. I once read something she said that has stuck with me, although I must paraphrase it because I cannot remember the actual source. Around 1890 she said, “I travel around the country, and I hear a lot of eloquent words and many sermon masterpieces. But what my soul longs for are burning words.”
Catherine wanted anointed messages that penetrated, stirred, and produced brokenness of heart. She felt her need and knew that change happens from the inside out. She was a leader who taught God’s Word and understood the difference between sermons that are just words and those that God had inspired to change lives.
The prophet Malachi wrote, “[God] will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver” (Malachi 3:3).
When the Holy Spirit searches our hearts, He is like a purifying fire. Just as a good fire burns out dross and impurities, unworthy things are burned out of our lives when we allow the Spirit to do His work.
Jim Cymbala began the Brooklyn Tabernacle with less than twenty members in a small, rundown building in a difficult part of the city. A native of Brooklyn, he is a longtime friend of both David and Gary Wilkerson.