Monday, March 21, 2011

Tongue of Fire

The School Fire of 2005 will forever be apart of my memory.

Legend has it that the fire started by a tree limb falling into a power line. The fire was quickly called into dispatch by many campers/fishermen. The fire's location was the Tucanon drainage (a popular camping and fishing location), which is just outside Pomeroy, Washington. Local Forrest Service employees were able to respond quickly.

Legend also has it, however, that the fire fighters weren't aggressive in putting out the now large bon-fire size fire because of 1) fear of being electrocuted and 2) the work (money) they could potentially get out of a larger fire.

The fire (that was originally the size of a tree limb) spread and spread, reaching 50,000 acres as the crow flies. The fire became so large, so quickly, that by the next day, August 6, 2005, the plume that was produced by the fire could be seen  from La Grande, Oregon (about 150 miles away). The fire crew that Ryan and I worked for stayed on that single fire for 2 months (which is why I will never forget it).

13 million was spent on the fire. 215 structures were damaged/lost in the fires destruction. Over 1000 people were employed by this single fire.

The School fire is what comes to my mind when I read "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." in James 3:5.

"Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." James 3:4-6
"A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire. A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends." Proverb 16:27-28
As noted above, I have personally experienced what kind of destruction can result from a small spark. To think that my tongue (or your tongue) can cause the same kind of destruction...

So what else does the Bible say about my (and your) tongue? What does the Bible say about words...

Consider the third commandment, which forbids the misuse of a word... Granted the word is God's name, but still, it makes me believe that God doesn't take words lightly:
“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." Exodus 20:7
I believe that God would like our words to be pleasing:
"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,  LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14
Who wants good days? I do!
"Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good;  seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:12-14
Would you like to be considered to be righteous or a viper? Just sayin'!
"The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip." Psalm 37:30-31
"You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. " Matthew 12:34
"Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool. Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense." Proverbs 10:18-21
Destruction or protection. The choice is yours.
"The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18
 "Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin." Proverbs 13:3
"The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:4
"Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity." Proverbs 21:23
Use words to help others not harm them.
"The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, And a wise friend's timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger." Proverbs 25:11 (The Message)
"The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed." Isaiah 50:4
"I was just joking around." "I'm just teasing." "I'm not being serious, lighten up!"
 "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." Ephesians 5:4
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6 
As a Christian, you are a representation of your God, your religion, and your church.
"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless." James 1:26
And finally, in case your mother never taught you this:
"If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all!" See Proverbs 13:3 above again

While I and many others have experienced the destruction a forest fire can create... EVERYONE has experienced the destruction of the tongue.... God calls us to be like fire fighters and put out the fire that is our tongue. Use the above Bible verses and the Holy Spirit as your tools and water.... and then can you do me a favor??? Let me know how your life is changed by doing so...
Because this is a lesson that God has been trying to teach me for the past few months... 

The power in words can build up or tear down—
Create a big smile or produce a sad frown;
So in all your contacts with people each day,
Be sure to encourage in all that you say. —Fitzhugh
God is love,

PS. Check out "Forest Fire" by Josh Wilson.

For more information and to see pictures of the School Fire you can go to and scroll down. Or you can go to

1 comment:

  1. Very profound!! How easy it is for the devil to catch us in this trap. But I am so glad I have Jesus to lead and guide me and make up for my shortcomings. I can never be "perfect" without Him.
    Thanks so much for your thoughts.