Wednesday, June 18, 2014

OnFire #316 Take Hold of the Gunwales

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #316 Take Hold of the Gunwales

Hi Folks:

It has been an eventful several weeks for us in Moncton. Please continue to pray for the families, friends, and colleagues of the fallen and injured Moncton RCMP members. I ran in the memorial run last Sunday, “3km for 3 Fathers.” I was not prepared for my own level of emotion as I saw the sea of 7000 red runners and the RCMP members who lined the route.

Last week I was enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces. Currently I am an Officer Cadet, but on the day I begin my move I will be promoted to Captain. We are working out our moving dates this week. We can tell you now where we are going – CFB Shilo, which is near Brandon, Manitoba. We anticipate moving in the middle of July. Our house went on the market on the weekend.

Ian loves his job and Prince George, BC. He is a compassman on a timber cruising crew. Ian navigates the team and carries some of the gear for the crew which evaluates stands of timber. This week he is working out of a work camp.

Finally, news about Mark – Monday was his prom and safegrad, and today is his graduation from high school. Wow – hard to believe! We are so proud of him. He has worked hard and achieved much. He plans to attend our local Christian university, Crandall University, to study psychology. He wants to be a psychologist. We are celebrating with a family gathering later today.

I plan to continue writing OnFire. Understandably, there will be times when I will not be available because of courses. For instance, I will be on basic training in September and October. However, I will write as I am able, and will continue to include family news.



While visiting in Shelburne a few weeks  ago, I took the opportunity to take an overnight canoe trip with two of my friends, Dan and Ron. Dan soloed his canoe while Ron and I had another canoe, and we covered a little more than 20km of the Roseway River.

The Roseway is a fun little river with flatwater interspersed by sections of rapids. One section, Big Falls, is about 1 kilometre long and it involves tricky maneuvering between large rocks. This time of year it is not dangerous, but it can be difficult to make it through without getting stuck.

Ron and I got stuck and turned sideways several times. This has happened to me in the past where water flooded over the upstream gunwale and filled the boat. In fact, Dan and I swamped this way when we came down this section the last time.

At best, swamping means we get wet. At worst, we wrap the canoe around a rock in the middle of nowhere and lose gear.

I was determined not to let this happen. Every time we went sideways, I did everything within my power to balance the boat and prevent the upstream gunwale from dipping below the water. I tried to avoid the rocks that might snag us.  I shifted my weight. I forced the downstream gunwale down. While we did get stuck on many rocks, we kept the boat dry and intact.

I was reminded of the Bible’s teaching to keep ourselves from sin. We are to be determined, doing everything we can to protect our relationship with the Lord.

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.  (1 Timothy 6:11-12*)

I love the verbs Paul uses because they show how determined he is.



Fight…the good fight

Grab…eternal life

These are not weak words, but rather they convey the strength of the effort Paul calls us to. This is not “try hard, but don’t worry about it.” This is FLEE, PURSUE, FIGHT, GRAB. Be determined.

As I paddled down those rapids, I thought about how hard I was working to prevent the boat from filling, and saw this picture of working hard to take hold of my Christian life. It helped me, and so I hope it helps you.

Be on fire for God.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. He is married  to Jan and lives in Moncton NB Canada. This letter published June 18, 2014. *New International Version, 1984. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or reply, email Blog located at

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