Subject: O2: Playing with Fire: Our Dangerous Game

NEW Live IT Episode and Gathering Guide
Our Dangerous Game


Our dangerous game. It took place during those drought weeks at the end of summer. We were middle school boys. Restless. Adventurous. In need of reprieve from daylong sports under the watchful eye of our parents. Bonded by a penchant for the mildly reprehensible, we’d venture deep into Wisconsin backwoods.  We’d bring dry paper and lighter fluid. On the most dry bed of pine needles, we’d set it ablaze. Explosive. Thrilling. Terrifying. The power of one, small flame took on a life of its own. The power to set an entire city on fire.  

We were playing with fire.

The remarkable story is that you’ve not read about the year Oshkosh burned to the ground. While the match ignited a contest of male hubris, fortunately it was not without some virtue. Just before hell broke loose, we’d scramble to stamp it out. Sweating. Hearts thumping.

We were in silent awe. The extraordinary power of the Universe. A power in our hands.

Of course we were stupid. Of course it was dangerous. But had Jesus been born into our hood, I wonder if he would have been there with us… mesmerized by this power. I wonder if it would have been the backstory to his later words: “I have come to set the world on fire, and how I wish it were already ablaze!” (Luke 12:49)

Are we not in a dry and weary land? Are our souls, our marriages, families and parishes around us not parched kindling? Is yours on fire? Is it vibrant and alive? Is it taking more and more territory? If not, why not? Have we not experienced the extraordinary Power of the Universe? Are we not in possession of a match?

Given the declining condition in so many realms, why are we playing it so damn safe? (literally) Why aren’t we playing with fire?

IGNITE was a response. Hundreds were drawn on that Pentecost night three years ago. We experienced the igniting of a spark that has since spread to thousands.

Why speak of Pentecost now at the outset of Lent? Because Pentecost is the purpose of Lent. Jesus came out of His desert fast “in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:14). Our self-emptying has the purpose of being filled by the Holy Spirit, not just for ourselves, but so much that He overflows.

We are about IT. That is, our ultimate identity and mission, to Image the Trinity. IT’s not about us. IT’s not about our plan. We are about faithfully responding to Jesus.

Return to the words of Jesus. He didn’t come to entertain by igniting so many matches. He came to set the world on fire. He came to build a bonfire. That means building a bonfire pit. It means assembling and uniting a few, parched logs. Their call wasn’t simply on Sundays. It wasn’t individualistic. It wasn’t happenstance. It wasn’t penciled in activity. It wasn’t simply when it felt good. It wasn’t what it “did” for them. It wasn’t based upon a calculation for success, or even sustenance.

Responding to the call of Jesus Christ, they left everything. They gave everything. Everything.

What does that mean for us? Our call and priority must be our God-given holy bonfire pit. It must be those closest to us. This can not be stated strongly enough.

Recently a man approached me, enthusiastically inviting me to participate in “That Man is You.” I affirmed this his involvement and inquired: “So, you spend a couple hours every Sunday to become a better man of God. You’ve been doing this for over two years. When is the last time you spent a dedicated hour talking and praying with your family?

Taken aback, he paused a moment to consider and then replied, “It never occurred to me.”

Clearly, programs such as Cursillo, CRHP, TEC, ACTS, TMIY, Alpha and IGNITE are gifts to the Church. They are making a difference in ways seen and unseen. However, is the “match lighting” directed to the holy bonfire pit of marriage, family and home? If not, why not?

If we’re about Jesus setting this world ablaze, we have to be about a radical, epic culture shift in the way we’re wired.

Our goal can no longer be simply igniting so many matches without regard for what we’re igniting. We have to be about building bonfire pits that are homes, that are our parish core teams in parishes. Like our dangerous game, we have to be about setting these ablaze in a way that directly and intentionally results in others doing the same.   

What does this practically mean for IGNITE?

It means every team leading an IGNITE is not simply about the “match,” a fleeting, disconnected moment. They’re not trying to give what they do not live.  They’re about the Fire. They’re on Fire. At the very core, more important than even IGNITE, they are living IT.

They are gathering at least weekly to talk and pray in their homes, and regularly as parish teams. Increasingly the candles brought before the Burning Bush correspond to holy bonfire pits. Increasingly every person who attends an IGNITE is invited to do the same-- to discover and live the holy bonfire pit they are-- to experience the power of God alive in relationships. There, they gain the confidence to spread that Fire within their own homes.  

By design, these holy bonfire pits “overflow.” Members attract others first and foremost by their compelling witness, by the transforming power of God alive in their relationships, but also, as it entails having the heart of Christ for others… reaching out to others.

Ultimately anchored in the Holy Mass, IGNITE is what it’s name suggests. It’s an occasion to IGNITE holy bonfire pits. That is, families and groups who gather to talk and pray using the free, downloadable LIT (Live IT) Gathering Guide (LIT Family | LIT Group).

Here’s the thing. Fire spreads from a core. It spreads from within. Without a core, it fizzles. The value and integrity of time devoted to any church activity is measured entirely by the degree to which one is devoted to time talking and praying as a family. Put another way, if you’re spending an hour for any parish activity without a dedicated hour to talk and pray as a family, you’re denying God the gift He wants to give you. You’re robbing from your family.

Jesus is inviting us to a dangerous game. He’s inviting us to set the world ablaze. Here’s the match.

Resist the whisper of the Enemy who might reduce this to “just another thing.” Building and becoming the holy bonfire pit in our homes and parish teams is the thing, without which everything else will come to nothing. See what He did. Follow. Commit your family or group to talking and praying an hour a week for the next seven weeks. Discover God’s power alive in your relationships. Discover what He can do with the parched kindling in your own soul, your marriage, family and parish. Accept the Live IT Challenge.

Following Jesus, let’s go into Lent with a view towards coming out “in the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Luke 4:14)

Oh most Holy Spirit, come and ignite the great Fire of Your Love. Set it ablaze in our minds and hearts!


Tuesday, 2/9 8pm

Mass Impact Kingdom Builders

Testimonial: Walt and Liz Erickson

Tuesday 2/16 St. Peter Huron
Wednesday 2/17 Holy Trinity Swanton


COLUMBUS CATHOLIC MEN'S CONFERENCE Saturday, February 27, 2016. 8am-2pm Join other men (+I'll be bringing my teenage sons) from Toledo area at the Columbus Catholic Men's Conference,  (REGISTER). Speakers are Fr. Larry Richards, Hector Molina and David Karam. Please let me know of you register so we can arrange transportation and/or connect down there:

March 18-20, 2016 Columbus, Ohio. Last year a number of very much appreciated a men's (mostly) silent retreat over Palm Sunday weekend in Columbus, Ohio. Registration is not up yet. It fills fast. Let me know if you're interested:

CATHOLIC YOUTH SUMMER CAMP. Want to have a BIG impact on this region now and for many years to come? Invest in forming and engaging dynamic young disciples! See THIS VIDEO. We're supporting/partnering with Bishop Thomas in engaging High School youth for Session D (July 3-8) and Middle School youth for Session F (July 17-22). Bishop will be at Session F. A number of Toledo pastors are getting on board. Advocate to your pastor!

STAND FOR LIFE! [From Bob Schoen]. The clinic will be open Tues., Thurs., and Sat this week. Hours for all days are 9AM till 1 PM, with the last patient leaving by 2 PM. 40 Days for Life starts tomorrow, so anyone who wants to pray at the clinic can sign up at  Anyone preferring to be there when the clinic is closed can sign up for other days and hours at the same sign up location.  The clinic address is 1160 W. Sylvania Ave., Corner of N. Haven. In the past 11 months, we have only not had coverage during open hours for 7 hours.  We are trying to maintain continuous coverage of open hours until the clinic is closed, and expanded hours of 6 AM - 6 PM during 40 DFL.



Mark Berchem
Bishop Michael Byrnes

Justin Fatica
Peter Herbeck
Al Kresta
Bishop Thomas Olmsted
Tom Peterson
Jim and Joy Pinto
Fr. Robert Reed
Fr. John Riccardo
Fr. Larry Richards



Getting Personal: On Money and Mission LINK For anyone with any anxiety over money or your mission (they are connected), here is a personal testimonial for encouragement and perspective.

A Life Changing Story: 40th Anniversary
LINK We share with you a very stirring story of Stephanie's dad and mom, punctuating for each of us:
What God calls us to, He provides for.

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