Saturday, March 23, 2013

OnFire #298 Something I Never Thought I Would Do

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #298 Something I Never Thought I Would Do

Hi Folks:

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, where we celebrate Jesus' ride into Jerusalem. While he would teach during this week, scripture also records significant moments with his disciples, and with the Father in prayer.  And, of course, on Friday we remember that he died to save us. While we love Easter Sunday with its resurrection because it speaks of life, it was never be possible without the pain and suffering of Friday.

I sometimes wonder about Jesus' faith. It was, unlike ours, a perfect faith. It is hard to imagine because we struggle so much with trust. But think about this. Jesus had to trust the Father that his suffering and death would be worth it. Lest we think it was easy to go to the cross, remember his prayer while in the garden, "Take this cup from me..." It was not easy to go to the cross, but he decided he would trust. "...but if not, your will be done." (Lk 22:42)   There was no other way, but it would be worth it in the end.

Blessings for your Holy Week.

I did something the other day I never thought I would do. Don’t worry, there won’t be an awkward confession. I’m not talking about something secret or shameful. Rather, I looked online for some half-marathons in the area which might fit my schedule this summer.

To be clear, a half-marathon is a long way to run, just over 21 km. As a result, there is a part of my brain which suggests I may have lost touch with reality. However, I always say the question of my sanity is another matter entirely. Moving on...

I started going to the gym in January 2012 because I was getting tired of being sore from sitting at my desk. While only 44 at the time, and in decent shape (I thought), it wasn’t reasonable to be sore from doing nothing. And, it was a little stressful at church without a senior pastor, so going to the gym would help burn off a little stress.

The trainer was helpful and we set up a program for me to follow which included 15 minutes on the treadmill. 2 minutes was about all I could run and I walked the rest. Eventually this became three and I challenged myself to a longer distance each time. It wasn’t easy, but my time for a mile improved and that was encouraging.

By the time summer arrived, I mustered up enough courage to enter a 5km fun run, which I wrote about in OnFire #283, “Lessons from the Treadmill.” It was actually the first time I had run that far. Since then, 5km has become a regular part of my exercise routine and 7.5km is not unusual.

Curious about 10km races I might enter, I went looking online and discovered that it is not a far stretch to go from 10km to the half-marathon. This was surprising to me since it is a lot longer, but writers were encouraging and there are lots of suggestions about how to prepare for that distance. And thus it was that I was looking online for races close to home which fit my schedule.

That’s when the thought hit me that all this fitness work has been worthwhile. It felt horrible to begin, but then improved. I won’t say I enjoy running now, but I do like how it makes me feel when I’m done, and not just because I have stopped.

I think there are many things like this, where there is a lot of hard work and we wonder if we’ve made any progress at all. But then one day we realize how far we’ve come and it makes the hard work seem worthwhile. And not only that, but because of that hard work, we now envision new dreams we never thought possible before.

I don’t know if I’ll make the half marathon. A lot of people do, but I don’t want to presume. Here’s the thing. I won’t know until I try, will I?

That’s my thought for this week. I hope it helps. Be on fire.

OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Mar 23, 2013. Troy is the Pastor of Next Generations and Connections 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, March 7, 2013

OnFire #297 But Do We Pray for Timing?

OnFire Encouragement Letter

OnFire #297 But Do We Pray for Timing?

This week we’ll turn our clocks ahead. It’s a good thing it happens on a Sunday and not a Monday. We might arrive at work at the wrong time instead of walking into church in the middle of the sermon. What a feeling to realize that we’re out of synch with the rest of the world. We got up, prepared, and planned to arrive at church with a little time to spare, only to discover we’re an hour off.

Timing is important. I hate it when I’ve got a good joke, and then blow the punch line. In skeet shooting, it is important to lead the target or the timing will be off. The shot will go ahead of, or behind, the clay instead of hitting the mark. When my boys became teens I had to learn when it was the right time to talk to them. Too early in the morning, and the response is a grunt. I usually wait for them to say something first.

Timing is important in both temporal and spiritual matters, and Jesus was the master. After his mother told him about running out of wine at the wedding in Cana, Jesus responded, “My time has not yet come” (Jn 2:4). When his disciples wanted Jesus to go up to Jerusalem and show himself as a public figure, he delayed because “...the right time has not yet come” (7:6-8,14). Later, the crowds tried to seize Jesus to kill him, but they were hindered because the timing wasn’t right (7:30; 8:20). When a group of “Greeks” arrived asking to see Jesus, it was a sign: “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (12:23; 13:1). On the night before his crucifixion, he prayed, “Father, the time has come” (17:1).

It is a scary thought that the best of ideas – the redemption of all humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus – could have been deflected and derailed because of bad timing. If it was so for Jesus, how much more so for us....

Good timing makes our intentions possible, while poor timing can turn even a good idea into a disaster. We might not be ready. The proper preparation may not have happened. The right conditions might not be present. The necessary resources and support may not be in place.

As I write, Jan is away with Mark for the March break, and it is very tempting to start some of the work we hope to do in our kitchen this year. We want to take out a wall and replace the old plywood cupboards, along with fixing the holes in the ceiling from our plumbing repair last fall. I’m itchy to open up the wall, but I know I’m not quite ready to do the job and we won’t have the money until after our tax refund. We’d have a big mess for months, which would frustrate Jan, and I don’t want that for her.

While this is a relatively simple example, I can think of more critical situations which require the best possible timing – when to launch a new program, tackle a tough issue, or have a difficult conversation with someone. Definitely, we should wait to discern God’s timing for when (and if) we ought to speak with someone if we are upset or hurt.

This is where prayer comes in. We often (I hope) pray for God to lead us and bless us in our plans. But less often, in my experience, do we pray that we understand God’s timing.

Last fall when I was hunting, I got a shot off on a duck that sprang from the bank. Water sprayed and I was sure I had hit my target, but when the air cleared the bird was heading for the skies. Because my timing was off, all I had done was make a lot of noise. I don’t want the same thing to happen with my plans. Timing is everything.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Mar 7, 2013. Troy is the Pastor of Next Generations and Connections 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