Friday, January 29, 2016

OnFire #340 Antiques and Angle Grinders

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire  #340 Antiques and Angle Grinders

Some years ago, I came to own an antique Guardian soda fire extinguisher that had been in my grandparents’ attic for many years. Standing about two and a half feet tall, it is copper with a brass label, and was manufactured in Brockville ON by the National Mfg Co. Ltd.

When I got it, I was a volunteer firefighter, so it made a neat addition to my collection of interesting conversation starters. This vintage piece of equipment was a part of firefighting history and I was proud to have it.

It was badly tarnished – dull and green - and despite the fact that it was interesting, it was  still unsightly. It occupied a place in our living room for only a short time, then Jan asked me to do something with it, and I took it to my church office. When we moved to Manitoba, it remained with our personal effects in the basement.

Last year I resolved to clean it up. It is going to take a while, but so far the results are promising with a combination of techniques including Brasso, a rotary tool, and a polishing wheel.  To see a pic, check out my Facebook page or the blog site at

As I stood there polishing the copper and brass, it reminded me of an important piece of scripture. “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17*)

When we commit ourselves to follow Jesus Christ, we begin a process of spiritual renewal where He removes the tarnish and stain of sin. Jesus takes the old, and makes it new. We become transformed. That sounds like polishing to me.

It is going to take a while to finish cleaning up the extinguisher because some stains and marks are deeper than others. So also in our lives.  It is a process. This is important personally, and as we regard others. We must be patient as some issues, problems, concerns, and even sins, sometimes take time to overcome. A few of these might not be complete until we meet Jesus, but yet we continue to have faith that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

And as we regard others, it is important to remember that they, too, are works in progress. It is all too easy to be judgmental when someone struggles in an area I have overcome.  Patience and grace are important as we consider others.

Jesus is in the process of taking our tarnish and transforming it into something shiny and bright.

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 the Canadian Armed Forces, and has more than 20 years of pastoral experience. This letter published Jan 30, 2016. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or reply, email Blog located at

Friday, January 8, 2016

OnFire #339 - 18 Ways to Support Your Pastor

OnFire Encouragement Letter
#339 - 18 Ways to Support Your Pastor

Hi Folks,

I hope the new year finds you well. We spent 2 weeks in the Maritimes visiting our boys and families for Christmas. It was really good to see them, and hard to say good bye.

This letter will be a little different from some others, where I usually write about an experience in which I have learned something. This time I’d like to write about how we can encourage our pastors. With 20 years of full-time experience before becoming a military chaplain, I’ve seen ways which encouraged me, and I’d like to pass them along.

I liked pastoral ministry and only left to follow God’s leading into military chaplaincy. After retiring from the military, I plan to return to pastoral ministry. In the meantime, I want to support my pastor and my friends who are in ministry.

Ministry is hard work. The hours are long, sacrifices many, demands great, challenges diverse, expectations high. It is often lonely, with few people in whom to confide.  Yet, surveys consistently show that pastors find great satisfaction in their roles, but this is not to say that pastors don’t face discouragement at times. Ministry is sometimes overwhelming and consuming, and I would guess that every pastor considers leaving ministry at some point. 

Let’s support and encourage our pastors. Here are some ways that helped me – you may have more, and I’d love to hear them. But before getting to these things, I’ve included a list of ways to discourage pastors. Don’t do these things. I offer them as things I’ve witnessed, most first-hand.

Ways to Discourage Your Pastor
- Always Assume the Worst
- Always Raise Problems, Never Solutions
- Always Find Problems with New Ideas
- Use the Phrase, “People are saying…”
- Gossip about the Pastor
- Remind the Pastor Who Pays the Salary
- Never Give the Pastor a Raise
- Hold Secret Meetings about the Pastor
- Ambush the Pastor with Hidden Agendas
- Broadcast Your Problems with the Pastor on Social Media
- Withhold Giving And Then Blame The Pastor For Poor Leadership
- Expect the Pastor’s Children to be Perfect
- Expect the Pastor’s Children to be Little Devils
- Criticize the Pastor’s Family
- Put too Many Expectations on the Pastor’s Spouse
- Shut out the Pastor’s Family on Holidays
- Never Upgrade the Parsonage/ Manse

Yes, seriously, people do these things, and they are very discouraging. Here are some things I found encouraging.

Ways to Encourage Your Pastor
- Pray Sincerely for Your Pastor
- Get to Know Your Pastor as a Person
- Ask How Your Pastor is Doing, and Take Time to Listen
- Send a Note of Encouragement
- Bring a Plate of Cookies
- Offer to Help
- Don’t Wait Until a Business Meeting to Raise a Problem
- Treat the Pastor as More than an Employee
- Respect the Privacy of the Pastor and Family
- Be Interested in Growing as a Believer
- Keep Your Commitments
- Try New Things
- Befriend the Pastor’s Spouse
- Don’t Pressure the Pastor’s Spouse to Be Part of Everything
- Keep Confidences
- Don’t Expect More from the Pastor’s Children than from Your Own
- Encourage the Pastor’s Family
- Remember Your Pastor and Family on Holidays

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 the Canadian Armed Forces, and has more than 20 years of pastoral experience. This letter published Jan 8, 2016. To subscribe, unsubscribe, or reply, email Blog located at