Thursday, March 18, 2010

OnFire #219 Another New Word

OnFire Encouragement Letter

OnFire #219 Another New Word

Our family news is the subject of this weeks letter, so read on to see some of the interesting things that have happened to us this week.

A reminder about my blogsite and website. To comment so that others may see, go to Otherwise, feel free to use “Reply” as before. Last week’s letter about frustration struck a note with many.

Also, about my website. Its nothing fancy, but I think a good resource. On it you will find the latest letters, archived letters, and a Bible Reading Tips page. Over the years people have told me that they have used OnFire in their Bible studies, Sunday school and small group lessons, staff devotions, sermons, or with friends.

The most popular spot on the site is the Bible Reading Tips page. On it you will find an article which covers the basics of Bible reading, as well as introductions to Joshua, Esther, Psalms, Proverbs, Acts, Romans, Galatians, and 123 John.

Blessings for your week.
I've been learning new words this week. I started Spanish lessons as we prepare to take a small group on a missions trip to Honduras in May. Last fall a pastor from Seguatepeque attended nearby Crandall University and worshipped with us. Now that he has returned, we would like to visit him and his church. To get ready, our senior pastor and I have enrolled in Spanish lessons.

Honestly, it's a little embarrassing to fumble over the simple expressions I have learned so far. Practice, practice, practice. This will be a good thing, but it really is hard to go from being a teacher to a student again.

Our cat is also helping me to learn new words. He got into a scrap and injured his hind foot on Sunday. We spotted the blood on him after church in the morning and by evening he was limping badly (or limping well, depending on your perspective). So, Monday morning we pushed him into the kitty carrier and took him to the vet.

As we were waiting, I held the cage up and tried to speak reassuring words to him. At that point he turned around, lifted his tail, and sprayed on me. Yes, its true. Try not to fall off your computer chair laughing.

He cannot stand vets. In fact, as soon as we enter the building, his disposition changes and he becomes downright nasty. Our last vet told us that we would have to sedate him at home before bringing him in. After we explained all of this to our present vet, she used a word I had never heard before. She said, "We often have to use anesthesia with fractious animals."

Fractious. We understood from the context that she meant difficult, and this made sense in my mind: fractious, fraction, fracture. We looked it up when we got home and sure enough it means to be difficult, unruly, stubborn, inclined to make trouble, irritable, quarrelsome, non_compliant. In our on_line survey of the word, we found several sites which even listed cats in their examples.

The word can apply to people and animals, but it can also apply to situations and tasks which will be unpredictably difficult, likely to be troublesome, or require great effort to accomplish, comprehend or endure.

I love how life and Bible study come together. In Nehemiah 2:13-14 we see that he encountered a fractious problem. His survey of the damage revealed that the walls were broken down, the wooden gates and posts were burned, and the rubble was such a mess that there were places Nehemiah could not get past.

I'd like to know how much time passed between verses 16 and 17, between the time he examined the situation and when he began talking about the plan to rebuild. Did he wait a while to muster his courage? Did his confidence come naturally, or did it take some time to build? It must have seemed overwhelming.

There are times when we find ourselves facing what appears to be a fractious issue. I have to remind myself that not everything is as big as it first appears. I have been amazed how many times some things turned out to be less difficult than I imagined, and occasionally some problems even solved themselves. Even still, it takes a lot of effort not to do anything which makes it worse, or simply to give up and say “Too much!”

In this we have Nehemiah’s example of perseverance. Ironically, fractiousness and perseverance have a lot in common. Whereas fractious is about being stubborn and unpredictably difficult, perseverance is about being stubborn in a good sense, about being unwilling to give up. Tenacity. Resolve. Persistence. Determination. Steadfastness.

There is one more aspect to consider in this. God’s call upon our lives does not depend on our confidence. He is the one who empowers and strengthens. Understanding this is part of what “faith” means - that we must trust God to provide what we do not feel we have. God’s call upon us will always feel beyond our capability, but as we are faithful and as we trust Him, we will overcome.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a weekly letter on authentic faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. This letter published Mar 18, 2010. Scripture references taken from the New International Version. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

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