Monday, August 18, 2014

OnFire #320 Bad News and Good News

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #320 Bad News and Good News

Since coming to Shilo in July, I’ve seen some good increases in my fitness level. The military has an interest in the fitness of its members, and daily physical training is a requirement. Before, I had a few runs of about 15km, but with almost daily running I have increased this. In the last few weeks I have had runs of more than 20km.

This is a good news and bad news story. My last long run started out great. I mapped out a route of about 20km. I would leave the base, take one of the back roads, cut across to the highway, and then return. Without some way to vary things, running can become boring, and this new route would be a nice change.

This was great until I missed my turn to cut across to the highway. This little mistake added about 7km to my route, and about an hour. I ran out of water. I didn’t have an energy bar. It took me about 3 hours and 15 minutes, and by the end I think my effort would be better described as waddling instead of running.

The bad news was that my run that day was a lot tougher than I planned or anticipated. I was sore for a few days, even with stretching, and my energy lagged in addition.

The good news, however, was that my run that day was a lot tougher than I planned or anticipated, but I did it! I was stretched far beyond what I thought I could do, and it has changed the way I think about these longer runs.  A few weeks ago I wondered if I could do a half-marathon, and now I’ve done that, and more, more than once. It gives me confidence to think about even tougher challenges ahead.

Strength and stamina don’t come without struggle, effort, and a little pain. As much as we’d like to believe the ads and infomercials, there is no quick route to physical conditioning. We get stronger as we work hard, test our bodies, push our limits, and overcome continuous challenges.

Our faith is similar in many ways. This is why James writes, “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” (James 1:3)* It is not realistic to think that life will be trouble-free.  Indeed, we can waste a lot of energy asking “why me?”  Instead, let us look at our difficulties in a different light. We tend to think our troubles are pointless and meaningless, but this not so. Trials are the push-ups, sit-ups, and footsteps of our spiritual fitness by which we develop strength and stamina.

When I think of the people I consider spiritual giants, they are not people who have escaped trial. Rather, they are the ones who faced difficulties with the strength that comes only from experience. They found the Lord to be faithful in the past, and they trust He will carry them through to the future.  It gives them calm and a peace even though everything swirls about them.

I don’t know what circumstances you may be facing, but I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis.  Married  to Jan, Troy is a chaplain-in-training in the Canadian Armed Forces, and has 20 years of pastoral experience. This letter published Aug 17, 2014. *New International Version, 1984. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or reply, email Blog located at

Saturday, August 2, 2014

OnFire #319 Almost Spilled Coffee

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #319 Almost Spilled Coffee

Hi Folks,

Since I wrote last, I have started the  distance learning portion of basic training. This involves about 10 days-worth of lessons on military life, law, history, culture, and knowledge. For instance, yesterday I started lessons on using a military radio.

I have to say, at times it is a little overwhelming – there is a lot to remember, and there is a lot at stake – but there have been some pretty neat things about it all. I like our chaplain team. I am enjoying meeting new people, and so many people have been kind and gracious.  There are a regular group of us that eat together at the cafeteria, and I particularly enjoy the other junior officers on the base. Also, this past week I toured the “Guns,” the 1st Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery. Very cool to meet the folks there and see the equipment.

This past week we hosted a team of teens to help us with vacation Bible school. I spent quite a bit of time hanging out with the team, which brought back lots of memories of mission trips with youth groups in the past.

I have been doing some sightseeing. Today I visited Riding Mountain National Park and saw free-range bison. Very cool. Last week was the Lily Festival in Neepawa.

Back in Moncton, the house has shown a bunch of times – we’re just waiting for the right buyer. Also, please pray that we could find a home for our two cats.

Ian loves his work in BC. He is the compassman on a timber cruising team. They lay out cut blocks and roads, as well as survey for tree size and type. Mark is getting a fair amount of call-in work at a local seniors home in Moncton. 



This morning I bought a coffee at our base coffee shop and then set it on top of the car to get my keys out. I then forgot about the coffee on the roof and began to pull away. Before it spilled, however, someone kindly caught  my attention and I was able to stop without having a mess all over the car.

Its great when people watch out for you. That has certainly been my experience so far on base, and it is something which we also need in our Christian walk.

My devotional reading lately has been in Revelation. Revelation is tough because there is so much that is hard for even the experts to understand, but we need not avoid it.  This we can know – God is just and no force is equal to Him. God will win in in the end, and this is the theme of the entire vision which the apostle John received.

As I came to chapter 19:9-10, I was struck by John’s response to one of the angels.  In awe of the message the angel delivered, John attempted to bow in worship, but the angel corrected him: “I am a fellow servant.” And then John attempted to worship the angel again in chapter 22:8-9.  The angel responded in the same way, and reminded John that they were both fellow servants of God.

John needed that angel to keep from making a huge mistake in giving his worship improperly. Thankfully the angel stopped him, and I think we can see a lesson for us in how we need to look out for each other. I think we need to thank God when people help us avoid problems, and in turn, we need to look out for others also.

There is another lesson here, and we see it in John’s close call.

How does John, apostle, beloved disciple of Jesus himself, solid servant of the Lord who was exiled to the island of Patmos for his strong and stalwart faith, find himself in the position of almost bowing in false worship? I think we may judge his motives pure, but he was obviously overwhelmed and confused. How could this happen to him, of all people?

I see three concerns, and this time I somehow managed to make them alliterate.

When we are dazzled, distracted, or deceived we may easily fall. If John was susceptible, who are we to think we are beyond such things?

This is, again, where we need each other. May we each have the grace to accept good and sound advice when we need it. All too easily, our pride often resists.

I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. Married  to Jan, Troy is a chaplain-in-training in the Canadian Armed Forces, and has 20 years of pastoral experience. This letter published Aug 2, 2014. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or reply, email Blog located at