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Open the Doors and See All the People


by Timothy W. Tron
Feb. 7th, 2021

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25


Darkness was all around. The car’s headlights could barely make out the tracks in the snow-covered roadway before me. I was heading home after having assisted in officiating a memorial service for a young lady. Another soul having passed too soon from this place. Her life had ended in tragedy, making it a difficult service to lead. Yet, even before the chill of the day’s air had left my coat from the graveside, the message of another friend’s passing reached my phone. Unlike the previous, his new home was certain. In this thought, my mind rejoiced in knowing that another brother had gone to be in that place that cannot be described in earthly terms.


As my drive home neared the mountains, the snowfall increased until, at one point, my car literally slid out of control for at least fifty yards or more. Thankfully, the tires never left the surface of the roadway. Unspoken prayer was answered once more. Afterward, my attention became ever more focused on driving carefully and slowly.

Oddly enough, without trying, a Sunday School rhyme of my youth began to play in my mind. As the lyric was spoken, we would act out the words with our hands. We would interlock our fingers together, palms facing upward, we would then turn them inward until our pointer-fingers touched and the heels of our thumbs pressed together. The rhyme went something like this, “Here is the church, look at the steeple, open the doors and see all the people.” Our little pointer-fingers would wiggle at the sound of the steeple, the thumbs would part when the doors were reached, and then the wrists would turn so that the interlaced fingers were once more pointing upward. That was the moment when you made your fingers wiggle around as if the congregation was visiting, sharing, and rejoicing together as one. It often made me chuckle to see my fingers wiggling and thinking of the congregation doing the same.


Looking back, my thoughts on that dark, judicious drive home were not of the mourning of my friend’s passing. They weren’t memories of the fact that we would miss his jovial, sometimes prankful demeanor. Nor were they the fact that this would be another COVID death in the records of the state’s annals of those that had succumbed to the pandemic. No, what was really troubling my soul was that my friend attended a church that had shuttered their doors because of COVID. There are all always seems to be a never-ending, creative, and thoughtful precipitous stream of reasons given when asked why a church would stop holding in-person services, but the most widely accepted excuse cited is, “Because we care about our elders and those have predisposed illnesses that make them susceptible, we are closing our doors to protect them.” Sadly, my friend’s church is not alone in this decision. Yet, neither of these practices adopted by “Caring” churches protected my friend. He had a stroke. He was 86. It happens. When he was finally recovering, he was taken to a rehab facility where it was certain that he had contracted the illness. He had lived a full life and had often told me he was ready to go on home. Well, my friend had made it, but then it was no fault or had not been prevented by the very church to which he had belonged. Before my friend left us, he had shared with me how he wished they would open back up because he missed those brothers and sisters who were like family to him. Sadly, my friend was never afforded that opportunity here on earth. In essence, his well-meaning church had somehow failed him. First Peter warns us of this, “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” In other words, God entrusted his people’s care to those who would become the leaders of the church. It is their duty to feed the flock until the day the Lord returns. As a farmer, I can tell you that you can’t ignore your animals, or they will die of starvation. Jesus told the Pharisees, “I am the bread of life. He that believeth in my shall never hunger, he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”


Hebrews 10:25 says it clearly, “Not forsaking the assembly of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”


In some cases, the church puts the blame on the state or local government authorities. In some instances, they are literally being forced to close by the threat of litigation. But in most cases, it was merely the threat of what “might” happen that shuttered many a sanctuary’s entrances. While many shut their doors saying that it is Biblical to follow the rules, the Apostle Peter would have to disagree, “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.” – Acts 4:19 “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” – Acts 5:29 In other words, man must live by God’s direction and not that of any man, regardless if it breaks the law or decree that is insidious in nature toward Christians.


As the children’s rhyme says, “open the doors and see all the people,” we are meant to be together, gathering in one place. The Greek word for Gathering is episunago, which means to be in one place physically. It doesn’t read episunagoge, which is the other meaning of Gathering, which so many like to say that this verse actually means. The latter form means to be together in spirit, 2 Thess. 2:1, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming o our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,” One could say that a Zoom meeting, or the prerecorded online sermons we see so many conceding too, have become the way forward for so many congregations. Sadly, some say that because of the virus’s ability to mutate, that this will never end. Does this mean that those churches that have closed their doors will remain closed forever? Does this mean that so many of those who have left the church out of fear will never return? And then the question that one must ask at a memorial service of someone that died due to a tragic event, “What is the greatest tragedy?” Yes, sadly, the greater tragedy, the effect of those well-meaning decisions by so many boards of elders, those deacon’s members who had thought it best for the greater whole, to close their doors, were causing a greater tragedy to occur than the one they had conceived. You see, my friend, the greatest tragedy is not dying in a natural disaster, it is not dying in a horrific accident, nor dying of COVID – the greatest tragedy is dying without knowing Jesus Christ as your Savior.


Disease, persecution, or any other reason that beguiles humanity is, nor has ever been a reason to stop providing a service whereby the Word of God can be preached. The Bible states this clearly in many ways and many passages.


Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” – 2 Timothy 3:12-13


Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.” – John 15:20


As I was recently afforded the opportunity to attend another tour at the Trail of Faith, it was that dark, overcast evening, again with the threat of possible snow showers on the horizon, that I became intensely convicted of a thought that would not go away. It came to me while we were standing in the replica of the Barbi College. The original structure is in Pra Del Tor, located in the Waldensian valleys of the Cottien Alps, nestled in the northwest corner of Italy. The original structure is estimated to be well over 1,000 years old. There, the elders (known as Uncle – Barbi) would teach the younger students. They would commit the entire New Testament to memory while learning Hebrew, Latin, Greek. They would also learn how to heal, using ancient methods of homeopathic remedies and cures passed down from one generation to the next. Their education was not complete until they had memorized the entire New Testament. When it was sure that the student was ready, and most importantly, had received the Holy Ghost, they were then paired with an elder and would go out across Europe evangelizing the Word of God. It was against the law to own a Bible or even to have scripture in your procession. The penalty for being caught with either was death, following an arduous, painful torture. The life expectancy of those early evangelists was 2-3 years.


It was there, standing in that dimly lit room of the Barbi College, gathered around a large single granite slate tabletop, that the feeling hit me. “We must open our church’s doors and impart into those in attendance the dire warning that came out of the ancient Waldensian history – God’s word can only survive in the hearts of men.” The only safe place for God’s word is not on a piece of paper, not on your Google Drive, nor stashed away in the cupboard of your kitchen – it is in your heart. Both the pastor leading the group and myself admitted to the group that although we had not spoken of it to one another, nor mentioned it at any other time, we both suddenly felt this conviction of purpose. We must impress upon our parishioners the impetus, the impending need to commit as much scripture to the heart, for the day is coming that it may all be taken away. But this is was not the only conviction that came through that still small voice. The other was that we are doing our congregations a great disservice by shuttering those church doors. It is the very nature of what we were meant to be in a church, what every church’s goal for existing – saving lost souls. “In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” – 1 Corinthians 5:45


There are factual reports of an increase in deaths resulting from society’s isolation due to COVID. It is these people, those that have been kept away from the very place they needed to be, that we are losing. Satan seeks to destroy and devour whom he will. It is with great joy that he sees those church doors closed. It is with great pleasure that he hears of another person dying, not having known Christ. It is with great satisfaction that Satan knows that those in most need cannot reach their sanctuary of hope because either their local government or, worse, their church leaders have eliminated their only path to salvation. Yes, the greatest tragedy is not the one that makes the nightly news, for it is one that is being fought every day, from one end of this planet to the next – saving the lost before it’s too late.


Friends, let this passage be a warning. May you feel the quickening of the Holy Spirit. As we draw nearer to the end times, there should be a quickening in your own heart, one that makes you wake up gasping for breath in the dark of the night, for fear that you have not done enough for those in your life that need God’s word.


Say ye not that in four months, then cometh the harvest? But I say to you, lift your eyes unto the fields for they are white with harvest.


Here is the church, there is the steeple, open the doors and see all God’s people.


Thanks be to God.

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A Gathering to Remember

by Timothy W. Tron, Nov. 2020

As the coming holidays approach, Thanksgiving and Christmas, there seems to be a sense of melancholy that has begun to permeate through the din of the incessant roar of this tumult our society has become. In my mind, there is a desire to reach back in my memories and dwell upon a time when life was simpler when the so-called advances in technology had yet to be developed. Because of the threat of lockdowns restricting these beloved reunions, those distant memories have become even more cherished. One such date that comes to mind coincides with a memory that our family holds dear to their heart.

It was the late 1960’s. Back then, we survived without non-stop news coverage, without updates from our social media accounts, and without the fear of dying from a virus, let alone anything else that existed at the time. It’s not to say there wasn’t death nor dying, for there had yet to be the advances we have today in the fields of heart disease and cancer. Both of these maladies took many lives before their time, and still do today, but not nearly as severely as in those days. No, we feared not because we had a faith that was the bedrock of our existence.

That faith was taught to us through our elders, passed down from one generation to the next – a thread of belief that was built upon an unending truth – Christ is indeed the Savior of the world. So, it is in this vein that once more my heart reaches for a well-worn story that is based on an actual event whose legacy has lasted for many years in our family. It is like the cup of an instant drink, void of the liquid to make it real – once the hot water is added, the story being recalled becomes the sustenance that warms our being. Like that beverage, the Spirit enters into our soul, and we are warmed from within to that which is without. Herein lies the beauty.

Looking back through the shadowy fog of time, those distant memories are like the passing clouds overhead. They are here but for a moment, and then cross over the mountaintops before we realize they are gone. As we near the season of holidays and family gatherings, it seems that those ancient days of yesteryear are ever more treasured. Like the value of a tattered cloth that once was held in the dying grasp of a loved one, its price to most would be nothing, but to those who knew its connection to the soul of the other – it becomes a priceless object.

That year when the snow fell around Christmas would become one such moment in time for me.

The classic event which unfolded is still known to this day, by all that attended, as the Sled Hill Christmas. Of all my childhood holiday experiences, it will forever be the most memorable in my mind. To read the entirety of the original story, you can find it online at https://timothywtron.dreamhosters.com/sled-hill-life-more-abundantly/ But this article looks at that event from a different perspective; one of how the warmth of a loving family and faith carried us through what may have been considered just another dark winter.

Like a revival, a truly epic event can only unfold when it is least expected. So it was that overcast December day so many decades ago. Several of us grandkids were staying at Grandpa and Grandma Tron’s house, there on the outskirts of New Harmony, Indiana. The town itself was in the season of slumber. Farming was still the driving industry, and the fields were now silent in their winter sleep. The hay had all been stored in the barns and the silos were filled to capacity with grains and silage to last until the next growing season began.  A feeling of hibernation overtook one’s soul, making those opportunities to warm by the woodstove or to huddle close around a cup of hot chocolate all the more permanent upon the creature within. Gathering with others was the only natural thing to do in a time such as this – it was who we were, it was what we were. In those precious slices of time, we fellowshipped without knowing that’s what it was called. Visiting with others when the work in the fields slowed was just as natural as splitting your firewood by hand – we all did it.

Tron House, New Harmony, Indiana.

When those first few snowflakes began falling the night before what would become the day to remember, we went to bed not expecting anything more than just a typical Midwest December dusting. When we awoke the next morning to the sounds of someone rattling around downstairs in the kitchen, it was as if Christmas had come early. Jumping from underneath the multiple layers of quilts, which weighed nearly as much as another cousin, we raced down the icy narrow stairs from the unheated upstairs bedrooms down to the kitchen where the pot-belly woodstove in Grandma’s kitchen was already red hot. We shivered and shook the remnants of chill from our bones, as our bare feet fought to find the warmth emanating from the scant linoleum floor by the stove. Excitedly, we peeked through the threadbare kitchen curtains that hung over the sink. The window faced grandma’s kitchen garden. Outside, the world was no longer the muddled gray of winter, but instead, was a brilliant whiteness, even in the pre-dawn, early morning hours.

About the time we had settled down around the table, after getting out of our bedclothes, Grandpa came in from the morning milking. We could hear the creaky old porch door slam behind him as he walked down the long back porch, from the barn end, up to the door of the kitchen, where he paused and took off his boots. The confines of that narrow passage clothed in clear plastic, a feeble attempt to thwart the cold winds of winter. The repurposed material was clouded with age, giving off a soft sheer grayness within the tomb of the veranda’s confines. The oft sound of rippling plastic slapping the screen made thoughts of warm summer nights, fresh tomatoes, and fireflies come to mind. Needless to say, those were but a distant rumor as the snow continued to fall.

With all eyes upon his entry, the vacuum of anticipation cut the air, like the cold wind that followed him inside. Snowflakes fell off his outer coat confirming what we already knew. Before he had time to take note of his unexpected audience, the questions began to roll off our lips.

“How deep is it grandpa?”

“Does it look like more’s coming?

“Where are the sleds?”

“Were the cows cold?”

He turned and smiled, looking toward grandma. Victor Tron never was a man of many words, So, when he replied with, “It looks like it’s gonna be good,” rest assured, that was all we needed to know. Grandma already had his breakfast ready, along with ours, and we sat down for an unusually early start of our day. We all instantly grew silent when grandpa bowed his head and reached his hand over to grandma. She grabbed his outstretched weathered hand with hers and we all joined hands and bowed our heads as grandpa said the blessing for the breakfast meal. In my mind, I can still hear that strained voice, barely above a whisper, thank God for what grandpa said was an abundance of blessings. Before us was a meager meal by worldly standards, but to us, it was Heaven sent. For we knew, even as children that every bit of it was from those two pair of withered hands that grasped one another in a love that never ended, even upon their death.

Victor Tron Sr.

 Grandpa’s first milking was at 3:00 AM and he usually finished up around 5:00 AM. His second milking was at 3:00 PM, every day of his life. He never took a vacation that I could remember. Usually exhausted from rising early, he would routinely drift off to sleep no matter where he sat, so finding time to talk with him was rare. He milked the cows until that night he died peacefully in his sleep, never to milk again. What we didn’t know as children, was how precious those few moments were with him when we were able to visit, especially that snowy morning on a cold December day so many years ago.

As soon as we were able to clear the table and bundle up, we were headed out the door. Eventually, someone asked if we could check out sled hill. An okay was given and like a herd of young calves heading for new pasture, we bolted out the back gate. Past the woodpile where grandpa’s ax and splitting log were shrouded in snow we raced. Heading for the opening to the lane, we quickly found ourselves wading through the knee-deep snow toward the iconic destination; Sled Hill. Past the milking barn, the bullpen, and Ms. Wolf’s house we trudged. Each one of these structures held a plethora of memories and stories that one could sit for hours and share. Like a life of living, their collections, like the holdings of stockpiled hay for the winter, waiting for one to return and use for the giving.

The bushes along the Labyrinth were blanketed in a sweet frosting of white. Our panted breaths billowed before us and were quickly whisked away in the falling snow.  In our rush to find out how well the sledding was going to be, we didn’t realize how hard the snow was continuing to fall. Nor did we realize how deep the snow had already gotten since sunrise. In the overcast grayness of the day, it all seemed like a dream, even when it was live.

Labyrinth, New Harmony, Indiana

As the story, “Sled Hill: Life More Abundantly,” conveys, the rest of the day was a multitude of adventures and excitement. With each passing moment, the tempo of the day’s delight reached a fevered pitch. The enthusiasm of the children soon bubbled over into those of the adults, igniting in them the feelings of youth. Gone were the aches and pains of age. The adrenaline of living purged those boundaries of limitations that had kept them hostage. Soon, parents, Aunts, and Uncles were joining in the merriment of sliding down the hill so aptly named.

As the sky began to darken as night approached, the thrill of the day and the feeling of being one with something greater than ourselves overwhelmed us. Fearing that it would end in darkness, the men created torches on the fly from used old tin cans (which we also used as drinking vessels), nailing them to poles and placing them along the sled run, all the way to the top of the hill. What started out as child’s play quickly turned into a major production. In essence, a cow pasture had turned into our own ski-slope far removed from any mountaintop.

When the last vestiges of daylight gave way to darkness, there along the sled run was a perfect row of home-made flaming lights shedding an ambient glow of warmth. Off to the side, a pile of wood was set afire and a massive bonfire became the gathering spot between runs down the hill. There we regained strength to carry on from food and drink the family had brought in at a moment’s notice. There, the entire family that was able to make it collected. The sentinel image that remains with me to this day was seeing both grandpa and grandma’s faces glowing in the reflection of the firelight. To know that grandpa had a milking coming at 03:00 AM, and yet, he was here foregoing precious sleep, standing alongside us kids around the bonfire said something more that than words could fathom. Even then, the whispers of the children could be heard, “Look, even grandpa and grandma are here.” The statement was a confirmation of the significance of that moment in time, one that made a profound statement on all that were present.

That night, once our bodies had been worn to a frazzle. There was barely enough strength to make it back to the house. As we pulled off our wet, nearly frozen clothing and briefly warmed by the fire, a numbness of exhaustion began to overtake us. The enormous featherbed never looked so welcoming. Shortly thereafter, after our bedtime prayers were said, there was little more than the sweet, “Goodnight children,” from grandma as she tucked us under the pile of quilts before we fell asleep.

For once in a lifetime, there was no sweeter sleep.

As the snow continued to fall outside that night, there was a warmth within that was more than physical – a love that transcends all understanding. There was something created that day that would last forever in the hearts of those who had been privileged to experience it. It became an inexplicable thread of life that would weave its way into our souls which would become part of who we were. The similarity of a feeling such as this can only compare to that of Christ’s disciples.

Like those followers of Jesus who had walked and talked with Christ after his resurrection, they too had a story to share. One that was so inexplicable, so earth-shattering that they would live the rest of their lives pursuing the mission to share it with all that would hear, even unto the point of death. It was who they were.

As we go forward in this holiday season, let us come together as a family, and may the hope of Christ, and Christmas be with you, until the end of time. May it someday become who you are as well.

Thanks be to God.

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The News Hurts

Screams of the dying fall upon deaf ears until one begins to wonder if all sanctity of life has been lost. These are the thoughts in my head of those that suffer from the disease that permeates our world. One can only sit and wonder what their final moments of time feel like as the soul within extinguishes from this world. The feeling is that of being held captive within a body that is fighting for its life. Hours pass like clouds rolling through a thunderstorm, each heavy with the pressure of the coming torment. One after another, thoughts of where this is going tend to flash like bolts of distant lightning – threatening but not close enough to scare.

Tonight, there are more stories of fear, death, and evil working its way into our society, until a friend of mine said, “The news hurts.”

photo FoxNews: Beirut, Lebanon

We’ve had torrential rain each day. It is as if we are living in a tropical rainforest. The forest and fauna drink it in, like a drunken sailor of old, notwithstanding having to report to duty, washing away the pain of knowing anguish of deadly seas. One tries to focus on what makes life worth living. Some have nowhere to turn – yet, there is a well of hope for which most forget in troubled times; the life-giving water that quenches all thirst – the Holy Scriptures. You can hear it in their voices – the despair. The whispers of calamity that rip across the crests of raging seas, tell them they are doomed.

Last night, as another thunderhead rolled through the valley, I sat on the porch listening to the roar of the water as it fell from the sky. The streams were no longer cute little trickles of water. They had turned into angry torrents, bursting from their timid banks, engulfing everything in their path. The limbs of the trees, heavy with foliage, groaned under the weight of the flood from above. The air was like a mighty wave, washing over the deck of the ship, pulsating and mad with fury. Here and there, bolts of electricity shot to the ground as the earth erupted in moans of travail. 

It was as if the earth had joined in man’s anguish.

Tonight, here in the Retreat, my little ship in the sea of life, there is still the echoes of the stream, still swollen, like red-eyes after a weary ordeal that one has escaped. There are brushes of clouds in the setting sky, some pink, some pale orange, all bequeathing a surrealness to the sullen mood. For every star in the night sky, there is a soul that has been undone. There are too many to count. Feverish frivolities are all that some have found in this life. Their zeal for pleasures has only accounted for an emptiness that now supplies nothing more than deep, hollow caverns of no end. They cling to anything that allows them to remove their pity – even to the point of pursuing another to deprive them of their momentary joy – covering that blue sky with the stain of hate and dread.

We must rise above that which seeks to pull us under.

When Jesus told Peter to come out of the boat, he knew that alone Peter was not capable. Alone, we are nothing. With God, all things are possible. As Peter hesitated, he knew in the natural realm of this world, he could not walk on water, but yet, there before him stood Christ, clearly upon the fluid sea that floated the boat from where he stood. To confirm his fears, he needed Jesus to command him to walk upon the water. “Jesus said to them, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

And Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.”

 And he said, “Come.” And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.”[1]

Alone, we cannot survive in this world of evil. Christ knows our every weakness. If we wait for him to tell us to come to him, we are admitting our frailty of belief. Just as Peter found that once he began, he soon was buffeted by the storm around him. The same beleaguered typhoon we endure each day as we are buffeted on all sides by every form of media, device, laws, societal shame – there is no escape. Is it any wonder we are easily distracted – it’s all part of Satan’s plan.

And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, “Lord, save me.” 

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him…[2]

They say the darkest hour is just before dawn. It seems that we are all waking up before dawn in these perilous times. Although the predawn hours are for many the hardest, we must take comfort in knowing that there will be another day. Remember, Jesus didn’t let Peter drown. 

“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him…

He is there for you, no matter how difficult the circumstance you face. As the world seems to consume you until it hurts to even hear the news, like the wind and waves becoming boisterous to the point you feel you are going to go under, remember he is waiting for you. All you have to do is ask.

All it takes are three simple words, “Lord save me.”

He is there to catch you before you perish beneath the waves.

God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” [3]

 We must rise above that which seeks to pull us under, yes, you are not alone.

Seek Him with all your might…it is not too late. His hand is outstretched and waiting…

Thanks be to God.


[1] Matthew 14:28-29 KJV

[2] Matthew 14:31 KJV

[3] John 3:16 KJV

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