Praying that Jesus will set a fire

Jimmy Pritchard served as the pastor of First Baptist Church Forney for 27 years before passing away in 2021. In 2010, he preached the convention sermon for our annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He was a wonderful pastor and leader and served as the chairman of the International Mission Board’s trustees.  I served with Jimmy on a mission trip to India. What a great man of God he was!  

Pastor Jimmy once told the story of when he served as the pastor of a church in southern Arkansas. The church had recently built a new parsonage for the pastor. He and his sons, who were 5 and 3 at the time, built a fire to burn some of the construction debris around the new house. 

His wife, Jeannette, came outside and cautioned Jimmy that he should not do that, as the wind was blowing and could be dangerous. He said he was offended by her suggestion that he could not control the situation, so he made a snide comment about her going back in the house and ironing his shirts. As the wind blew upon the fire, little embers began to burn all around, leading Jimmy to stomp them out. 

Then some of the little fires started getting bigger, so he asked his 5-year-old to go get a wet towel. Jimmy used the towel to put out the larger flames and, as he did, he noticed his wife standing at the door watching him. He asked her if she was going to help him, to which she replied, “I have shirts to iron.”  

Then a fire lit in the top of the pine tree by his house, so he hollered out for her to call 911. He said everyone in southern Arkansas had a scanner, so when the call went out that the preacher’s house was on fire, everyone came—the rich, the poor, the sick, everyone. He would later make the point that when a church is on fire spiritually, the people will come—the rich, the poor, the sick. They all will come.  

"Perhaps your love for Christ has grown cold and you need a fresh touch from the Holy Spirit to reignite your passion for Jesus."

John Wesley said, “When a pastor is on fire for Jesus, people will come and watch him burn!” My prayer for all our churches in the SBTC is that they will be led by hot-hearted pastors preaching the Word of God and sharing the gospel with the lost. I am praying even now for your pastor and your local church. Would it not be awesome if all our 2,700-plus SBTC churches were on fire for Christ! 

How zealous are you personally for the things of God? Perhaps your love for Christ has grown cold and you need a fresh touch from the Holy Spirit to reignite your passion for Jesus. The Lord is worthy of our greatest devotion and efforts. Do what Pastor Mark Batterson suggested in his book The Circle Maker—draw a circle around yourself and ask God to move powerfully upon your life and revive your soul.

As the song powerfully states, “You deserve a fiery love that will not deny Your sacrifice.” Let us be on fire for Jesus, living and sharing the gospel until all in our cities and communities have heard the message of salvation. Ask the Lord to set your pastor and all in your church ablaze for the glory of Jesus, and then let us rejoice when people come to watch us burn brightly for our King.

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