RECAP Acts: Why Not Be Completely Changed Into Fire?


From now until the end of the month we will be re-releasing highlights from our Wake-Up Call Acts journey together. Join us on December 1 when we begin our new series celebrating Advent—Protagonist by Matt and Josh LeRoy. 


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Acts 1:1–5 (NIV)

In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”


Let’s begin this journey with a celebrated story from the tradition of the Desert Fathers.

One day Abbot Lot went to see his teacher, Abbot Joseph, and Abbot Lot said, “Abbot Joseph, the best that I am able, I keep my little fast, my little rule, my little devotions. To the best that I am able, I keep my meditation and my prayer, I try to cleanse my heart of earthly desires, but Abbot Joseph, it is not enough. I still haven’t found what I seek.”

Now Abbot Joseph listened closely to his student, and when Abbot Lot was done speaking Abbot Joseph got up out of his chair, and he reached his arms and his hands up into the air until he stretched out each of his ten fingers and out of the tips of each of his fingers shot pure flame—ten burning candles there in the middle of the desert—and Abbot Joseph said to Abbot Lot  “Why not be completely changed into fire?”

Theophilus. The name means “God lover.” We begin this journey into the greatest story ever told as Theophilus. To the best that we are able we are keeping our little fast, our little rule, our little devotions; reading our little meditations, and saying our little prayers. We are trying to cleanse our hearts of earthly desires, yet we struggle. Abbot Lot is Theophilus. Only one thing remains, and no it is not “sell everything you have and give it to the poor.” Here is the invitation of Acts: 

Why not be completely changed into fire? 

No, it’s not about becoming a religious fanatic. It’s about being fixed on Jesus and filled by his Spirit. This is the story of Acts. And what an interestingly misleading name for the story—The Acts of the Apostles. It gives the impression the apostles did something. Well, they didn’t, and yet they did. They did the only necessary thing. They became fixed on Jesus and filled by his Spirit. And thereby, they became completely changed into fire. 

In doing so they show us a journey, blazing the trail from Theophilus to theophany; from Abbot Lot to Abbot Joseph. Now there’s a word, theophany, that means a visible manifestation of God to humankind. That is exactly what happened. The apostles, through consecration and transformation, became a demonstrative manifestation of the presence of God to the world. This, dear friends in Jesus, is the ancient cartography of Acts—the map from Theophilus to theophany—from Abbot Lot to Abbot Joseph; from our little candle-lit devotions to blazing beacons of the illuminating fire of divine love. 


Abba Father, let consecration now become transformation. You know I love you, and yet you know also my love is measured. I hold on to myself, because I am broken, which is why I remain broken. I want to be transformed, yet I know this will not come by my effort, but my effort is all I really know. I hear Jesus saying to me, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” I want to receive, Jesus, yet all I really know is how to achieve. Come Holy Spirit, and break my brokenness that I might be filled with your fullness and so live the life of your wholeness becoming holiness. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen. 


Are you ready for the journey from Theophilus to theophany? From a cozy life of casual and compartmentalized devotion to the consuming life of the love of Jesus filling up the whole? 


Let’s open this week, each day, with a Holy Spirit hymn of transformation, “Spirit of the Living God.” It is hymn 299 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

7 Responses

  1. Yes, Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me! “Each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another and Christ may be the same in all, that is, that we be truly Christians.” —
    Martin Luther, On Christian Liberty.

    1. Since this is a recap of a prior Wake-Up call, this question now deserves an updated response: This trip through the life of the Church in the Apostolic Era has enlightened me me to how far the institutional church has drifted from its Biblical moorings. What the book of Acts displays as the supernatural, organic, household of faith, now appears at least here in America, as a diverse group of businesses, who are marketing religious goods and services in competition with one another to a quickly shrinking consumer base. I believe that Jesus has determined to reclaim His Church. This morning, during my prayer and meditation time with God, I was reminded of God’s role as the “Master Weaver”. In my own faith journey I’m experiencing how God is in the process of weaving various diverse groups of believers together through a network of ever growing personal relationships. I believe that the Great Awakening has already begun. To God be the glory!

  2. The thoughts that came to me when I woke up this morning are a call to direct, personal revelation from the living God. That is the rock that is proclaimed through out the book of Acts.

    “Unless we open our heart to the reality of direct personal revelation from the Creator of the Universe, our mind will keep us in various states of deception by often misleading us with its subjective notions and analytical evaluations. Christianity is much more than having your mind convinced by religious concepts. It’s having the hurts in your heart healed by the rock of ultimate objectivity, direct, personal revelation from the Creator.

    Nothing is more real than God’s life-changing work in a human heart. To see God’s light in your heart is to be objectively set free from deception of darkness. If direct revelation from the living God isn’t objective, then all that we perceive is only passing illusion.”

    Let’s let the Holy Spirit’s blast us beyond our cozy-zone!

  3. “Easier said than done.” This old, ole adage can pertain to many things. Try pushing a stalled car while in park or driving to work one day in reverse. Telling your wife (girlfriend) or husband (boyfriend) that you’re leaving sounds easier in your head, but it’s hard to speak. Asking for a raise at work rehearses perfectly in our mines, but our nervousness rises when looking the manager in the eye.
    With Jesus, I wanted an easier life. No more drugs, alcohol, or pornography. And He did that for me! Those desires melted away! But that was just the beginning; there is more to do.
    To do?
    Jesus is the free gift, the mercy, and the grace of freedom.
    Now that He has given me Himself.
    What’s next?
    We must do.
    Yes, I must do for me to become more like Him. If I don’t, I will be a child of God in limbo.
    We experience the fire of the Holy Spirit by serving.
    Many scriptures tell us what to do to live and walk in the spirit.
    In Ephesians, Paul tells us to put on God’s armor. We have it through Jesus but must put it on to be effective.
    James says to submit, resist and draw near to God when the evil one attacks. Sandwich the evil between God, and he fades out of the picture like Willy Coyote.
    Jesus calls us to go out and be the Great Commission.
    Yes, we are called to become an image bearer of Christ.
    We become like Jesus by doing because becoming is a verb.
    James 1:22
    But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

    Staying 💪’ Christ
    Ephesians 6:10
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

  4. I strive to be in God’s presence and ask daily to keep my heart pure from anger, bitterness and worldly attacks. I need you God and want my light to shine for your Glory. The strength you have provided me, has made it possible to endure the worse pain I had ever imagined (losing my mama) although it’s only been 3 months, the struggle is real and my comfort is knowing I will be with her again. Thank you for providing the Daily Focus, I thoroughly enjoyed starting my morning with God’s word and having a positive mindset starting my day.

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