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. 

Mitch McClure To Speak On "God Keeps My Pieces Together" On Sunday

Middle Valley Church of God announced that Pastor Mitch McClure will speak on the topic, 'God Keeps My Pieces Together' in the  10:30 a.m.  service on  Sunday . This sermon is part of a sermon series titled 'Alive and Thriving, Not Just Surviving.'  This series focuses attention to the need of the church to be alive and thriving.  ... (click for more)

LDS Church Offers Addiction Recovery Program

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers an Addiction Recovery Program, a 12-step program that "helps individuals overcome addictions through Jesus Christ and His Atonement."   The program is based on the teachings of Christ and the 12 steps are adapted from Alcoholics Anonymous.  These steps include honesty, hope, trust in God, truth, confession, change ... (click for more)

Signal Facing Decisions On Expanding Commercial Area Past Albert Road, Mountain Community Center And Water Service

The design review committee (DRC) of the town of Signal Mountain is in the process of establishing standards for commercial buildings. In the meantime, developer Bob Elliott would like to buy property at the corner of Taft Highway and Albert Road. Albert Road has traditionally been where the commercial property ends. A number of residents in the neighborhood around that area are ... (click for more)

Initiative Launches In Support Of Signal Mountain’s Water System; Tennessee-American Says It Has Long Provided Clean Water To Signal

A citizen committee is urging Signal Mountain "to be vocal and choose local" in the imminent water department sale. The local group formed “Be Vocal. Choose Local.” after the town of Signal Mountain voted last May to initiate a Request for Proposals for the acquisition of its water department.  The committee urges the town to sell its water system to Walden’s Ridge Utility ... (click for more)

Legislators: Protect Our Students And Teachers

When students step into their classrooms, they are there to learn and prepare for their future. Our teachers serve to advance each student’s education and guide them towards success.  Educators have an additional responsibility: maintaining the trust and respect of their students by conducting themselves professionally and responsibly. The vast majority of our ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Every day, without exception, I find a number of “treats” in my daily dose of email. These funnies, and other pertinent information, are sent to me by a myriad of “Internet Buddies” who I repay by sending out some of the funniest that I collect. Think of it as sort of a “co-op” for my readers to enjoy. When The Saturday Funnies began last summer, it was what I still think is ... (click for more)