Wednesday, October 24, 2012

OnFire 289 Hunting, Large Arms and the Bible

OnFire Encouragement Letter

OnFire #289 Hunting, Large Arms, and the Bible

Two thoughts, from entirely different and unexpected directions, came together this week.

Monday was the start of deer season and it will come as no surprise that I was out hunting. I’m sad to report I didn’t see a thing all day, although I know there are people who will be quite happy about that.

When we moved here a few years ago, a man from our church set me up in some areas he has been hunting since he was young. The inside of his hunting camp is a testament to his success as a hunter. More than a dozen mounted trophies illustrate his skill with the gun and bow. A bulletin board is covered with photos of him and others with their prizes. I added my own picture a few years ago.

To see him at his camp is to see his passion and commitment to hunting. Over the years he has invested countless time, energy and money, and it shows. He often sees deer on his hunts, and while he rarely shoots one now, it is not for lack of opportunity. He enjoys taking people like me and probably loves it more when we have success than when he does.

When he gives me some advice about hunting, I take it seriously because he knows what he is talking about. He has credibility.

Thought number two. I’ve been going to the gym to exercise since January. My goal is to do a combination of cardio and weight training at least twice a week in order to increase my fitness level and provide an outlet for stress. It has been working. I’ve lost about 10 lbs, my clothes fit more loosely and I can jog comfortably now.

I’ve noticed some interesting things in those hundred or so visits to the gym. There are a variety of people interested in fitness, everyone from teens to seniors. And there is a wide spectrum of commitment. I saw two young ladies on the bicycles one evening, barely moving the peddles, despite the easy settings they used. It didn’t seem to be hard for them. Rather, they appeared to be distracted as they changed the channels on their TV's (a lot of the machines have TV's – it really helps to prevent boredom), flipped pages in their magazines, texted, and chatted back and forth. I wonder if they ever say things like, “I go to the gym all the time, but it’s not doing anything.”

By contrast, I spotted a guy last night I hadn’t seen before, with the largest set of arms I have ever seen in person. Although I’m no weakling, I’ve long since gotten used to feeling a little small in comparison to some of the guys in the gym. But I have to say I felt downright puny working out next to him. He was using three times the amount of weight I was. Three times! He had clearly put in his time, with impressive results. At different points friends came over to see how he was doing. They talked about the gym and workout routines. Credibility.

People have credibility because knowledge and action come together in experience. There is a proven track record to show that they know what they are talking about. They are believable because the evidence is plain for all to see. A hunter has a trophy on the wall and meat in the freezer. A man in the gym has arms to show he can build his body.

Christians develop credibility when our actions, attitudes, lifestyle, behavior, habits, character and conduct illustrate that we follow Jesus. Do we have to be perfect? Of course not. We gain credibility when people see effort and consistency. We lose credibility when our effort is inconsistent or at odds with what we believe.

The apostle James talked about credibility:

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.... But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”* James 3:13-17

Hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Oct 24, 2012. Scripture taken from New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

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