Thursday, January 24, 2013

OnFire #294 Just Average Part 1

OnFire Encouragement Letter

OnFire #294 Just Average? Part 1

Hi Folks:

This OnFire is in two parts. It’s a little longer than normal but starts with a parable. I got hit with some major insecurities over the Christmas break and had to work through these things. I thought it might help OnFire readers.


A parable...

There was once a drill sitting on a shelf in a hardware store. He was shiny and new inside his snazzy 4-colour box. He wasn’t fancy, but he wasn’t bargin bin either. He could go forward and backward, and he came with a set of high-speed steel bits in standard sizes. He waited for the day someone would lift him from his place on the shelf and carry him home.

That day finally came when a man entered the store looking for a drill. He was a new homeowner, and he needed a drill to drill a few holes. He didn’t consider himself handy, but he thought it was time to learn, so he headed out to the hardware store that day to find himself a drill.

Our drill was exactly what he was looking for. It drilled holes and it had reverse. He didn’t know if reverse was important, but it sounded good. And just as important, the price was right. Not as expensive as the tools at the other end of the aisle, but much sturdier than ones he had seen at the bargain store.

The drill was excited to be bought by someone so keen and eager. He had been made for drilling holes, and now he was drilling holes. He and his owner drilled holes wherever they were needed - in walls, in boards, even floors and doors. Along the way they discovered that reverse is important, and the drill thought life was just grand.

Until, this is, the homeowner brought home another drill. This drill was similar in that it drilled holes, but it had a heavier motor and a feature called variable speed. It started slow and the more the user pulled the trigger the faster it went. This was important for putting in screws, which the older drill wasn’t really designed for. The homeowner still used the old drill, but not as often as the new one. It was hard not to envy the new drill with its new skills.

Life continued in this way until THAT Christmas when the homeowner opened his presents to find a bright and shiny new cordless drill. It boosted forward and reverse, variable speed, a clip on the side to hold driver bits, and it didn’t a key to tighten the chuck. And, of course, it needed no cord. True, it didn’t have as much power as the other drills. And it didn’t have the same stamina – it always seemed to die in the middle of a job. But, how easy it was to carry the newest drill up the ladder and down the stairs, and around the corner to exactly where it was needed.

Time passed and the homeowner continued to add new tools as he did more things around the house – screw drivers and chisels, and even a few saws. He was especially fond of a specialized tool with mini grinders and tiny bits so small our drill couldn’t even hold them with his large teeth.

Our drill didn’t know how to feel. He knew he had important skills and abilities. He could drill forward and backward, he had plenty of power, and as long as he was plugged in he never ran out of juice. But the other drills seemed faster and fancier. At least he was more portable than the old drill press the owner brought home.

He felt so, so? What was the word? He felt so average. He didn’t like that. He wanted to stand out, to be special. But what if he was just average? Just mentioning the word depressed him. He didn’t want to think it, but what if he really was just average?

It’s not only imaginary drills who feel this way at times. This feeling of “just average” goes kind of like this, that if we’re not notable for some good reason, then we have failed. Its a feeling that, “I’m just an ordinary person. What good am I if I’m really just average? What good can I do if I don’t stand out from the crowd?”

I want to talk about being “just average,” and not only because I try to help people deal with this issue all the time. This year over the Christmas season I got nailed with this thought. I found my soul tugged back and forth as my heart ached with a feeling of insignificance while my head tried to counter with what I know is true. It’s hard to argue with a feeling, I know. Thankfully, however, feelings come and feelings go, and the feeling seems to have passed. But wanting to be true to the spirit of OnFire, I figured if I go through these things others probably do also. So here it is...

At least three things can help us battle this feeling. First, the Bible is filled with examples of how God uses ordinary people. Who was Noah? Abraham? Moses? Ruth? Boaz? David? Mary? Joseph? John, James, Andrew and Simon? No one, really. But God used them in powerful ways.

True, there are some people in the Bible who we might expect to do well. Daniel and his friends were chosen for service because they were the cream of the crop. Saul/ Paul was pretty bright, but was making his mark against Christians.

Many - perhaps most - of the people we see in the Bible were ordinary people. God uses ordinary people.

...To Be Continued... in the next OnFire, we’ll take a look at the final two reasons.

I Hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Jan 24, 2013. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. Scripture taken from New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at

Thursday, January 10, 2013

OnFire #293 Pineapple Surprise

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #293 Pineapple Surprise

I opened the cupboard door and reached for a new can of cat food. I grabbed it from the shelf we normally keep these things on, the second one from the bottom, below line of sight where we put the more well-used things like soups, but above the things we stoop to pick up, like the potatoes. I wasn’t really paying attention. I grabbed the generic yellow can and then picked the opener from its place in the drawer nearby.

What a surprise to find pineapple inside. Well, it was and it wasn’t. Jan had run out of space on the shelves above and set it there several weeks before. With its bright yellow budget brand wrapper, it could have been anything, and I had almost mistaken it for cat food several times.

I thought it really was a delight to be surprised by the pineapple. Jan and Mark were working in the kitchen when it happened and we shared a laugh over it. If anything, I tend toward the serious and so laughter is good. Jan’s first words were, “Don’t eat it. I’ll make it into something.” She knows me well. I like pineapple and would have seized the opportunity which the now-open can presented.

There are all sorts of lessons in this, I suppose. To pay attention, read carefully, and not assume. Good lessons, but not the ones I saw that day.

Wonder is the word which comes to mind. I love it when little things like this brighten and lift a day. We can’t take them granted. Often these little things are what we needed to click us out of a mood or a funk, and I think are heaven-sent.

Our God is a God of surprise, of wonder and joy. Do a word search in the Bible and discover that wonders happened when God acted to bring about a different result from what was expected by the circumstances. The Israelites did not expect rescue at the Red Sea. David did not always expect to see the light of day when he was chased by his enemies. The people who came to Jesus for healing had exhausted all other avenues of hope. That’s what makes these events wonders. Each person was surprised.

Human nature, I think, is that we forget the Lord is God. He is not like us, not limited as we are, not hindered by weaknesses and faults. We constantly need reminders that He is a God of surprise and wonders, and trust Him to do far more than we can ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).

A can of pineapple is a small thing, but it brought a little joy to a day which had been filled with burdens and worry. A surprise is still a surprise. As we begin this new year, may we all look with new eyes to the God of surprises and wonders.

Ps 40:5 Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us  no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare.

 OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Jan 10, 2013. Troy is the Pastor of Family Ministries at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. Scripture taken from New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Archives are located at Blog located at