• David Osteen

Parable of the Bonfire

Behold, two boy scout troops were in a competition to build a bonfire at Summer Camp. There was a one inch rope, seven feet off the ground, anchored by two timbers. The winner of the competition would be the first troop who could build a bonfire large enough to burn through the rope.

The first boy scout troop knew that pine needles made fast high flames. They focused their efforts on gathering pine needles closest to the area for the fire. As the fire was lit it grew quickly; however, it extinguished quickly. The boys kept running as fast as they could for more pine needles. They gathered enough to get a flame as high as the rope, however, it wouldn’t stay lit long enough. As they continued to gather more pine needles, they were running farther and farther away from the flame to gather them, and thus, could never build a strong and lasting fire. They soon collapsed in exhaustion and despair. Their plan had failed.

The second boy scout troop knew that pine needles made fast high flames, but they also knew that twigs, and sticks, and logs would produce a strong flame that would last. So they too hurried to gather twigs, and sticks, and logs. Because the flame was not quickly extinguished, they didn’t have to rush as hard; but rather, could pace themselves, making sure that the fire was properly constructed and getting stronger with each stick run and placement. In the end, the boys jumped with joy when their rope was the first to break!


He who as ears to hear, let him hear. Truly Truly, I say unto you, this parable is NOT about fast vs. slow; but rather, is about building a foundation of endurance. Both troops were moving quickly. The issue is not how fast they were moving or how fast their flame grew. The issues, is what they needed to build, in order to be victorious in reaching the goal.

In the parable, the first scout troop is those in this world who pursue a relationship with God based upon emotionalism. The second scout troop, are those in this world who pursue a relationship with God based upon intellect (or you may say “knowledge”).

Many times, people are looking for their “worship experience” to be one where they felt they were moved emotionally. They get a sort of “emotional high” from attending worship services. In fact, many worship services by churches are built completely around that structure. But what does that produce? It produces a faith without knowledge. It produces a faith without a strong objective foundation. Like the pine needles in the parable, the individual constantly on a roller coaster of faith, being strong one day/week, and weak the next.

I know a man one time who had such a powerful emotional experience from a preacher he saw, that he was heavily devoted to finding that preacher again so he could attend services. He was in search of that emotional high, and he was even willing to pay thousands of dollars for the opportunity of that experience. How can we not see, that this is not healthy behavior? How can we not understand that if our faith is built on emotionalism – devotion to seeking to arouse our emotions via our senses – that is will not last… it will not endure? Why do we not comprehend, that constantly pursuing that emotional (which is often confused for “spiritual”) high will never lead to a strong and enduring faith in Christ Jesus?

What we see in the Bible, stressed by both Jesus and those (The Apostles) sent to deliver His words of truth to all peoples, is that our faith is supposed to be based upon knowledge. That a strong enduring faith is established upon logic, reason, and growing understanding from the objective truth of the gospel. Just like those twigs, sticks, and logs that were gathered by the second scout troop in the parable, those things may be compared to continual growth in reading, meditating upon, and studying God’s word. This is God’s design. This is what works. This is what we have to be committed to because God is smarter than us, and He designed faith to be this way, and so we can be assured that it works… if we just do it God’s way!

Constantly Jesus uttered these words, “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” Why? Because faith comes by hearing; that is to say, hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17) It was the Apostle’s prayer that we might continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (II Peter 3:18) On the day of Pentecost, the faith of the brethren derived from what they heard preached! (Acts 2) And such is the case in EVERY instance of faith in the book of Acts. The word of God was written to us so that we might read and understand, and that in understanding we might be able to reprove, rebuke, exhort, and train our faith in the righteousness of God. (II Timothy 3:16) In I John the Holy Spirit repeatedly says that the words written were so that Christians would “know”. Paul tells us, that the gospel was delivered in simplicity of truth, and not by eloquence of speech or the deceitful scheming of men.

How much more must be said, and verses presented, before we see the validity of God’s fundamental truth: That the foundation of a strong and enduring faith, is built upon knowledge and not emotionalism? That it’s built upon strong preaching and teaching in truth and in love. The truth of the matter has been made abundantly, and more important, scripturally clear. May he who has ears to hear, let him hear. Is that you?

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