Steve Ellison: The Charcoal Fire

Friday, January 26, 2018 - by Steve Ellison

Several years ago, I had a phone conversation with an old friend whom I had not heard from in about ten years.  He had engaged in a time of repentance and felt like God had forgiven him.  However, he was struggling with forgiving himself.  This is a perplexing problem for almost every Christian.  I suppose there is not a one of us who has not done something (or several somethings) that haunt our memories.  Whenever our particular sin is brought up in conversation, or we come across it in our reading, or we hear it discussed on the radio, we cringe at the memory brought up in our minds.

  This cringing inhibits our fellowship with our Savior.  We must give our past to the One Who Died at Calvary for that very purpose.  Guilt is a marvelous gift from God.  Without feeling guilt, we will not repent.  Guilt is designed not to destroy us but rather to crowd us to Christ, so that we will cry out for forgiveness found only in Him. Christ’s interaction with Peter following his very public failure is very instructive for us.

In John 13, on the eve of the crucifixion, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before the night was over.  John 18:15-27 records the fulfillment of Peter’s triple betrayal.  Verse 18 explicitly states that Peter was warming himself at a charcoal fire when he betrayed his Lord.  John 21:1-17 continues this message by recording a very poignant and encouraging later meeting between Peter and the resurrected Christ.  Peter and several disciples were finishing a night of fruitless fishing when Jesus appeared on the shore.  I hope you do not find it coincidence that Jesus had built a charcoal fire on the shore.  Jesus called Peter and the others to the fire.  After a time of fellowship around the fire, Jesus asked a series of penetrating personal questions to Peter.  I hope you do not find it coincidence that Jesus called Peter by his pre-salvation name of Simon.  Jesus did not do these things to hurt Peter; rather, He did these things to get Peter to forgive himself.  Peter needed to face his failure and realize that Christ had already faced it.  In fact Christ had just died to pay the penalty for it. 

Christ did not die so that Peter’s failure could haunt him the rest of his life. Christ died so that Peter could be free from bondage brought on by long lasting guilt.  Guilt is a good weekend guest because it brings us to repentance and the resulting forgiveness.  Guilt makes a terrible roommate.  We must not allow guilt to move in with us permanently.  Instead, we must meet our Savior and Friend at the charcoal fire; dine with Him, realizing that He knows all about our failure and that He has forgiven all.  It is a tragedy of indescribable proportions that Christians allow past failures to hinder present fellowship with their Lord.  That could not be further from Christ’s intentions.  All of us have betrayed Christ.  It makes no difference how.  Christ died for your adultery, greed, anger, fornication, gossip, homosexual acts, murder, theft, dishonesty, idolatry, abortion, mistreatment of the weak, laziness, rebellion, etc.  His death on the cross paid the penalty for your sin.  His death on the cross made it possible for you to be restored to fellowship with Him.  I encourage you to accept Jesus’ invitation to come to the charcoal fire; dine with Him; listen to His penetrating questions; accept His forgiveness and forgetfulness.  This is Christ’s will for your life. He wants unhindered fellowship with you. 


Trunk Or Treat Offered At Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church On Oct. 27

Cub Scout Pack 3037, Troop 137, and Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church at 6314 East Brainerd Road, will be hosting a Trunk or Treat on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 5-7 p.m. in the parking lot at the church. Scouts will decorate their automobile trunks with fun themes and enjoy handing out treats to the kids. The community is invited to this free and safe event. Wear your costumes! ... (click for more)

"Dial It Down" Is Sermon Topic At Metro Tab Church On Sunday

The public is invited to worship at Metropolitan Tabernacle Church at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday as Dr. Steve Ball, senior pastor will discuss "Dial It Down." The Music Ministry is led by Rob Alley and Metro Praise. Children's Pastor Olivia Aziz and staff would love to host your kids as well in the Metro Kidz Church. We are a multicultural non-denominational church. You can ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Airport Has Biggest Month Yet; Work May Start Next Year On Parking Deck With 1,300 Spaces

The Chattanooga Airport set a record in September with 44,000 enplanements, the highest ever for one month. This was an increase of nine percent over September 2017, and deplanements were in line, said Terry Hart president and CEO. He said that more parking is needed near the terminal to keep up with the growth. The 20-year master plan includes a parking deck with around 1,300 ... (click for more)

Firefighters Climb 150 Feet To Extinguish Fire At Ardent Mills

Chattanooga firefighters had to climb 150 feet to extinguish a fire at a flour mill off Amnicola Highway on Monday morning. A call came in at  7:35 a.m. for the  fire at 1 Riverside Lane. Ardent Mills reported smoke in the building and all employees were evacuated. Fire crews arriving on the scene could see light smoke coming from a vent on the upper half ... (click for more)

Why Are Joda Thongnopnua And Phil Bredesen Downplaying Their Democratic Values?

For the past several months, the Democratic Party has reached a tipping point. “Their Resistance” is to oppose anything and everything Republicans are doing to deliver a stronger economy and better economic opportunities for all Americans.  Yet, I find it very interesting that the public outcry we are seeing from the Democrats on a national level is nowhere to be found when ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s ‘Tennessee Week’

For over 50 years I have heard the line, “There are two things you must never do on ‘The Third Saturday of October.’ You mustn’t ever marry and try not to die because, in either case, the preacher won’t show up.” He’ll be watching “The Game.” Ever since Oct 18, 1901, Tennessee and Alabama have been going at it and that inaugural game set the tone as well as the standard for all ... (click for more)