Tag Archives: Ciabas Church

In the Blink of an Eye…

Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”-Matthew 5:8

This morning as we stood outside the Ciabas Church at the Trail of Faith, waiting for instructions on what we were to do as part of hawkthe Easter drama, I watched from afar as my friend, the Red Tail Hawk, flew from the top of the Refour house over to a pole inside one of the hay bales located by the front gate. The sky above was a beautiful clear, azure. Voices around me carried on in hushed tones as my thoughts raced with the magnificent creature in the distance. In that moment, I suddenly came to the realization how that same hawk had been with me so many times, so close that I could speak to him and had. It was a wonder that he would remain so close and even more so when I would speak toward him.

How could I have taken him for granted for so long?

It was then the name, “Bruce,” came to mind.

“Why not,” I thought to myself.

For some reason, the moniker seemed to fit. He was often there first thing in the morning by the front gate as if he were waiting for me. After opening the gate and retrieving the morning paper, I would get in my car and drive down the lane to the visitor’s center. Bruce would leap from his perch and fly alongside me. Oddly enough, it has happened more than once, to the extent it has almost become our morning ritual. So today, since I had been absent from our morning flight together, he was there reminding me of his presence.

If we blink, we sometimes can see things we thought we knew, we thought we understood. In the blink of an eye, reality can change. In the blink of an eye, God can change our lives forever…

hawk2This morning as we stood outside the Ciabas Church at the Trail of Faith, waiting for instructions on what we were to do as part of the Easter drama, I thought I saw God. He had been with me so many times before, so close that I could speak to him and had. It was any wonder that he would remain so close, and even more so when I would speak to Him. How could I have taken Him for granted for so long?

It was then the name, “God the Father,” came to mind. The name is the name above all names, the King above all kings; a word we give to one so great we cannot begin to describe His bountiful reward that awaits us all if only we call upon His name.

Each morning now, I rise and read His word, and each morning he takes flight and races alongside me as I go through the journey he has asked me to join. Oddly enough, it has happened more than once, to the extent it has almost become our morning ritual. So today, since I had been absent from our morning flight together, he was there, reminding me of His presence.

In the blink of an eye, we can see Him, if only we try.

But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”-Isaiah 40:31

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational, Nature, Religion

In Our Midst…

Another day of sharing, growing and belief in all that we do.jesus

There was barely time to reflect on the previous week when another one began. There is no greater joy in ministry than when you get time to fellowship with others of like minds. Yes, there are other times when you are helping others different than ourselves, those who need our help to know the way, the truth and the light; they are important. But then there are times when you can speak as freely and deeply as you want with others and for a few moments, life passes by more quickly than is necessary.

Today was another one of those.

However, before I can expound upon today, let me share with you something of note that happened last week, something that was yet another one of those God-moments.

We had planned on working as a group taking down Christmas lights early on in the week but due to weather and illnesses, most of our staff was unable to be there. As foul weather rolled in, we hunkered down and worked on the things we had put off until this time of year. Like the old time settlers, we turn our focus inward taking on tasks that make us grow mentally and prepare for the future. I had begun working on a proof paper, something that I could take and share with those who may question our ability to reference our Waldensian connection back to the time of the Apostles. The research and study are as much fun as they are challenging. Not only do I get to dig back into archives centuries old, but I also get to reference points in scripture that correlate to those ancient events; a win, win either way. The investigative research and study hours flew by and before I realized it, Thursday was staring us in the face.

Yes, it was time once more to get back to taking down and putting away the lights.

However, many of our volunteers were still down with ailments. So, when Thursday morning arrived, there was only going to be three of us able to perform the work necessary for at least four grown men. Desperate for help, a thought came to mind of a young man that had contacted me on FB about possibly being part of the Trail when he graduated college. Knowing he had just graduated and moved back to the area, I messaged him with a plea for assistance early Thursday morning and sent up a small prayer for help; I had nothing to lose.

We began our work and were just about to try to tackle the most difficult part with one man down when suddenly, into the drive pulled the new grad, Chilo. I thanked the Lord for answering prayer. As Chilo walked up, I thanked him for coming and shook his hand. He replied, “Good to see you once more.” We were in the heat of battle, so to speak, so I let the comment go without question as we rushed to our positions and began lowering the heavy towers. From there, we worked as a team, as if we had known one another for many years, and continued to fellowship as we went. Lunchtime arrived and our stomachs were yelling for attention, so Chilo and I took our reprieve at the local pizza parlor. As we sated our hunger, Chilo asked what brought me to the Trail of Faith. I asked had he not heard the testimony, “No,” he replied. So I began sharing the story of prayers answered, the trail of faith of my own, one that began with the spiritual awakening. As I watched the clock, I realized we would have to get back to the Trail, so we reconvened the story while we continued to work on bringing down more archways along the pathway of the Trail. There I began to share with him the point of the story where I had begun to evangelize through my book. In the back of my mind, I had still continued to search for the “why” or “how” of his initial statement of, “Glad to see you once more.” As if we needed confirmation, there suddenly in the parking lot looking lost was stood a young man. I paused our conversation and walked toward him to ask him if I might help him. He had not driven up, like I said, he had just appeared. As I approached him, he turned toward me and I somehow felt I knew him from someplace before. He said he was just looking around and thought he’d stop in. I asked him if we had met before. He looked at me with a puzzled face and then smiled, “Why yes,” he replied, “at the book signing you had at the library here in town two years ago.

My mind raced back and recalled the young man. He had asked many questions as if he was searching that day for something greater than just the story I shared. At this point, most people are asked to enter through the visitor center and encouraged to take the guided or self-guided tour. However, there was a feeling of this moment, this person, this exact time in my testimony he had appeared as if on cue.

God doesn’t mess around.

Knowing how the Trail has become a calling for many, some without knowing, I began to ask him if he had ever seen the inside of the church. As we all walked toward the temple, I began to ask him if he might need prayer today. He nodded that he might. I unlocked the doors and then began to share a bit of what the church and our ancient faith was about. We took our seats in the front of the church. I explained to him how there was something missing and asked him to look around and see what it might be. Both he and Chilo searched and then realized, there was no cross. I then began to explain what the most important thing to those ancient people of the valleys, yes, the very thing they lived and died to protect; the Word of God.

I then looked at our visitor and asked him if there was anything troubling him, anything in his life that might need prayer. He began to choke up as he began speaking in a hushed tone about his mother who was ailing. He had lost his job and was forced to move back in with his parents. It was obvious God had sent him for a purpose this day. We then combined together to say a prayer, all three of us, who a mere 24 hours before would have no idea we would be there in the church this day, praying together in unison.

We closed our prayer and walked out of the church, saying our goodbyes, but welcoming him back whenever he felt the need.

Suddenly the afternoon took on a whole new light.

It was then, the question of why Chilo had introduced himself as saying, “Good to see you once more,” came back to mind. I asked him, how he could say that and where we might have met. He replied that it was during the Waldensian festival three years ago when I had been evangelizing through my book.

Sometimes you know God is watching and then sometimes you know he is surely in our midst; yes, it was one of those moments. Both men had been with me at a point in my life exactly when we had been interrupted in my testimony, by not only one but two witnesses to my story.

Yes, we serve an awesome God!

From there on, it was if Chilo and I had found an ancient tie, one that distance, space or ancestry could not break; our faith in Jesus Christ. While we may not have agreed 100% on all things, we felt a common bond and by the end of the afternoon, I found I kept having to urge him to keep track of his time for fear he was forgetting as did I, for I had a doctor’s appointment that I nearly forgot had it not been for my dear wife calling to remind me.

Yes, time evaporated, leaving us with only memories of our existence with one another.

Today, the fellowship was the same. I met pastor McDevitt of Morganton First Church of God for lunch and it was one of those experiences where you become so wrapped in the conversation that the food’s importance in front of you diminishes to the point it becomes an obstacle. I love those times with brothers and sisters in Christ that allow your heart to open up and something is moved, ideas are formed and future bonds are created. It’s a walk I’ve come to be blessed with more and more.

Godly fellowship can make time disappear, yet our faith is emboldened and we grow together in our walk with God. I am eternally thankful for the position the Lord has placed me and know that time will pass, but as we grow and age, there are many things that build character and strengthen our faith; these are the things we must continue to embrace and lift up each day, sharing with those around us as much as our lives will allow.

Another day, another walk on the Trail.

Thanks be to God in all that we do.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational, Religious Experience, Uncategorized

A Dove-ly Vision…

doveJesusAs time passes, many things become clearer while others seem to slip farther away.

I know in all of this, God is working, planning and arranging life in such a way that the journey he has prepared will unfold, in all due time.

The white dove flew past me before I realized what it was. As I turned to look out my side window of the truck, I saw it fly over the Trail of Faith, toward the Ciabas Church. As it flew, its flight path took it directly over the part of the church where there would have been a steeple in a normal church, but this, of course, was not a normal church. In the blink of an eye, the dove vanished.

Days later, the vision came to me once again, but not in the same fashion, but the dove had called me closer to another time, another event, much closer to Jesus.

I was floating in clear, bluish tinted water as I watched the body of a man who was standing in the waist deep fluid before me. His clothing was made of animal hides whose hairs lifted and swayed in the gentle current about us. The white sand below reflected the sky above, yet there was no sound. Then, suddenly another person appeared as he began walking into the water from the opposite shoreline, his white robe wrapped around his legs as he strode slowly into the coolness that engulfed the scene. The man in fur waited with outstretched arms, speaking to the one entering, his voice was muffled to me below the surface. The only sounds were that of the water rippling from the man’s wake and my own heartbeat in my ears.

As the one in white entered, I felt a warmth overcome me, one of overwhelming comfort; as if I had been made anew and all the past life was forgotten; I was a child once more.

The man in furs grasped the Godly being in his arms, speaking yet again and as he did, he let the one in white fall backwards into the water, his entire body falling below the surface. The bubbles from his submersion floated skyward, tickling my ears with sound. For an instance, he turned looking in my direction. Our eyes met and I was instantly numb with fear, excitement and joy. No words nor thoughts could enter my mind, none except for those that told me the one I was watching was not of this earth, but of a greater place; one I had yet to know but would someday come to know. Before I knew it, he was lifted back up, but not before he smiled and briefly nodded as if he knew I understood. The man in furs spoke again and then a brilliant light exploded above the water, high in the sky, as a spirit in the form of a dove gently landed on the man in white’s forehead. and then a voice boomed through the air above, coursing through the waves and into my body, a magnificant voice saying, ““This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The water around me then began to swirl and boil with excitement as everything seemed to explode with brilliance of the moment, every molecule of life was extending itself to the utmost glory of which it had been created. My whole being began to pulsate and my mind was overwhelmed with blinding light.

I awoke realizing the dream had passed and the ceiling above me was another place, another shelter from the elements that God had provided. The lingering affects of the dream were still with me, the euphoric happiness of seeing God’s son and knowing that He lives. My life is now one turn of events after another where I know not what the next day or moment will bring.

Like that being in the water, I’m floating in time, following the current of life as He has provided and where it will take me I can’t nor will I know until it happens. I know what my humaness tells me to do, but how and when it will happen I cannot know.

In all this I pray that God will continue to lead me, wisely, patiently and fruitfully.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational, Religion

The Light before the Dawn…


My mind was racing well before the dawn.

Unable to sleep, I arose and began the day well in advance of the culmination of months planning and practicing for the Festival of Faith. The vision to bring the story of hope, salvation and redemption to the world will not be without uncertainty as the threat of inclement weather looms large. Yet, it would not be without adversity that we struggle to keep the story alive.

Somewhere in another country far away, once again Christians struggle to survive; surrounded by Muslim extremists, their fate dependent upon faith and prayer. Today I read in the paper that our country has sent relief in the form of food and water, air dropped to the mountain top where they hold out. Their adversaries wait for them to come down to seek food and water, only to take their lives at every opportunity. I’m sure their prayers were answered when those resources fell from the sky; manna from heaven as in the day of the Israelites and their time in the desert.

Today, we move the program to a new location, with a new format but return with the same story, one told for generations of the people that kept the faith alive, the truth, the Word; the Waldensians. Our numbers are small, we face many obstacles to bring our message, yet we do not face the tests of our brethren in that far away land; the face of death. Here, we merely struggle with the ignorance and greed of others that turn away from what made their country and cities great, the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Tonight, I will lead children of the Lord on a journey that began a year ago, in a church recreated to the image of one back in the Cottien Alps, a place where death has visited one too many times; the Ciabas on the Trail of Faith. Although last year our audience was small, the response was too great to let the program die there within the walls of the wonderful church. Like the world in which we live, we too often find comfort within the walls of our house of worship; we must go beyond, out to the masses that need to hear our voices. As fishers of men, we must go where we can find the fish.

So, in less than 12 hours, we will have finished the story, the performance will have been completed.

Will we bring hope, joy and inspiration to others; only the Lord knows, only He knows.

“Wake up Sleeper, rise from the dead and let the light of the Lord shine on you.” – Eph. 5:14

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational, Religion