Tag Archives: Hope

The Sky’s Not the Limit

by Timothy W. Tron

Walking in a bleak and forsaken landscape, there seemed little to brighten the spirit within. It appeared the societal oppression had finally reached my soul. Alongside my pathway, the river ran a confluence of grayness, passing over rocks and eddies of congestion. Dark voids formed pools of contention. The sound of rushing water was the same as in the brilliant days of springtime, yet there were no blooms, no sunshine vistas – the world felt trapped in an eternal abyss of despair.

Daylight was quickly fading from the sky above. My thoughts turned to contemplate my return route and which way I should go. It was of little use to take the high ground since the sun was already nearly past the horizon. A blissful sunset was out of the question. Feeling a sudden urge, like a gentle nudge from on high, I decided to return home the way I had come, back through the darkness of the forest, a welcome cover to my demeanor. Turning around to retrace my steps, it was at that moment that the scene before me nearly took my breath away. The words from above suddenly filled my heart, “I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”[1]

There before me was a brilliant orange, fiery sunset in the backdrop of a forlorn winter sky. The glory of the LORD was above and reflected in the waters of the secretive Johns River below. Suddenly, that seemingly dead, distant landscape had come alive, a breathing, living being – a reflection of His almighty omnipotence. As the radiance of that fading image smiled across my face, a reminder of thankfulness began to warm my heart. The words of John’s testimony from Patmos echoed in my mind, “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”[2]

We face a new year, and for many, they do so with much heaviness in their hearts. There has been much death and darkness in our world. In a time when it seemed like we could finally leave a recent train-wreck of history behind us, there seems to be no end to the calamities through which we must traverse. Looking ahead, we may only see forests like the bones of the dead underneath dark, foreboding skies. Yet, if we turn around and look, even against an aghast bleak sky, there is still something for which we can be thankful – something that we must realize was Godly; a blazing sunset to remind us that God was and is still with us through it all.

The beginning of a new year is often a time to make resolutions, but maybe we should try something different this year. Perhaps, we should instead think about looking back to the blessings with which we have been bestowed, no matter how small.

Sometimes self-reflection is more rewarding than one might anticipate. We often get so lost in the struggle to make it to the next day we fail to realize what we have accomplished. Sometimes we are reminded of self-reflection in the oddest circumstances.

I was recently walking with a colleague on campus and discussing the state of things. The conversation turned toward recent advances in technology. He asked if I had heard about the latest telescope that was about to be sent into orbit, the James Webb telescope. He told me how it would be so powerful that it could see back through time to the beginnings of the universe. Researching his statement revealed this from NASA’s website, “The James Webb Space Telescope’s revolutionary technology will study every phase of cosmic history—from within our solar system to the most distant observable galaxies in the early universe.”[3]

When I hear about science trying to “look back in time” to find evidence of the “beginning” it somewhat irritates me. My frustration comes from the fact that many people who do not believe in God will do anything to try to prove that creation began with some miraculous spark of combustion out of nothing. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying my colleague is or is not a believer – that is yet to be seen. But rather, the lengths to which governments will spend taxpayer monies to research the creation in the name of science are sometimes laughable. It was in this vein of thought that the first thing that blurted out of my mouth when my colleague mentioned this incredible scientific breakthrough was, “What if someone on earth is looking through the lens of the orbiting telescope and sees in the distance another eyeball looking back at them?”

“You mean like another being, like an alien looking at us?”

“Not quite.” My mind was thinking more of God, but at that moment, I couldn’t bring myself to say it out loud.

“Or maybe you mean like us looking back in time at ourselves,” he said with a hint of mysticism in his voice, “Like through a wrinkle in time?”

“Perhaps,” I replied, but my thoughts had already begun to turn to how amused God must be at our incessant desire to disprove his existence by hoping to look back to the beginning of time. Under my breath, I mouthed the first lines of the gospel of John to ward off any more insolence, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men.”[4]

You see, by the sheer virtue of light, we were given life. Through humanity’s self-absorption, thinking that we can grow wiser than our creator, we can miss the mark. The answers to life, to from the beginning to the end, the alpha to the omega, are all handed to us by the one who we seek to find – God our creator.

Then my mind returned to the words of my colleague, “Us looking back at ourselves….”

It was then that the sunset on that dreary evening made sense. We didn’t need a state-of-the-art orbiting telescope to see it. We don’t need an international space agency to define the beginning of time to know who we are. The great Northern Irish mathematician, bioethicist, and Christian apologist, John Lennox writes, “To the majority of those who have reflected deeply and written about the origin and nature of the universe, it has seemed that it points beyond itself to a source which is non-physical and of great intelligence and power.”[5]

When we seek what we cannot find, we lose our way. But when we seek Him, as the scriptures had said, if we knock, the door shall be opened. When we realize that all we need is merely for our asking, if only we ask, then the concept of realization of our existence begins to make sense. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”[6] And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”[7]

If you can find nothing else in this past year for which to give thanks, believe that there is at least one thing that was there all along. You may not have turned around and caught a glimpse of that setting sun, but then again, you had to turn from your ways before it could be seen. Once our time on earth is done, there won’t be any more opportunities to make restitution with God. Judgment day is at hand, and all will stand before the Lord. “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”[8]

Are you ready for eternity?

Seek not things of this world, but seek that which gives life eternal, the salvation that comes only from Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Jeremiah 29:11 KJV

[2] Revelations 22:1-2 KJV

[3] https://www.jwst.nasa.gov/content/webbLaunch/assets/documents/WebbFactSheet.pdf

[4] John 1:1-4 KJV

[5]  John C. Lennox, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?

[6] Revelations 3:20 KJV

[7] Jeremiah 29:13 KJV

[8] 2 Peter 3:7 KJV

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Add More Life

by Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

“I can’t add more days to my life, so I’ll add more life to my day.”

– “Life to My Days”, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.

Sitting here this morning and thinking about the year’s end and time, a thought crossed my mind. If we knew the day we would die, how much more would we strive to live each day leading up to that fateful moment? Would we plan a going-away party? Would we spend all that we own so that there would be nothing left, like someone stranded in the desert, draining the last drop of water from their canteen? It certainly would put a Life Insurance salesperson out of a job. One might guess where this thread is going, but for a minute, let me look at another aspect of this thought that has permeated through the din.

Be the Light – Lux Lucet in Tenebris

Taking this concept a step further, what if there were restrictions set by the government as to when that date would be when your time here on earth would end? As we face what seems to be a paralysis of life through the relentless fear of Covid, a term known as “Ageism” begins to creep into my thinking. According to Miriam-Websters, Ageism is defined as “prejudice or discrimination against a particular age-group and especially the elderly.”

Why, you ask, would you think of that?

Looking forward, one can see where authorities have already started dictating who is most essential or groups that are high risk and that these are the ones that should receive the first doses of the Covid vaccine. While on the surface, this seems purely logical, you might want to ask, “Who gets to decide, and is it the same everywhere?” Take this idea a few steps farther, and you might begin to see the reason for my concern. Will we someday be asked to voluntarily end our lives for the greater good, or will we be dismissed from receiving a life-saving vaccine for the sake of allowing the more essential to live? If we are asked to volunteer, will it be to save the greater good, or will it merely be to escape? One must consider these ethical questions when our leaders begin to make decisions that are out of our control.

Ageism is not a new ideology. Several themes in literature and movies to which predetermined ages were set for humans come to mind. Like the movie Logan’s Run or the short story, Law of Life, by Jack London, societal restrictions imposed term limits, so to speak, on how old humans were allowed to live. The principle is that the elderly would eventually become a burden to society. Finding a way to eliminate them, either through voluntary choice or government-imposed regulations, became the accepted fate in these literary pieces. In Logan’s Run, some awakened to this horrific belief and rebelled. In the latter work by Jack London, the reader is left to decide if the choice was detrimental or a matter of preservation of the tribe – thus preserving the greater good.

Going back to one of the two extremes, either volunteerism or authoritarian imposition, the movie Soylent Green brought to light the former. When Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson in his final film role) had seen enough, he went to the assisted-suicide facility known as “Home”. His friend, and star of the movie, Thorn, played by Charlton Heston, watched in the control room as his friend experienced his requested ending. As written in the article from the web page, “Greatest Movie Death Scenes, the author describes how the movie portrayed Sol’s end. “He had chosen a poignant, painless and suicidal death in the euthanasia clinic’s chamber. He was put to rest (to “go home”) with orange-hued lighting, classical music playing (Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” Symphony No. 6, Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6, and segments of Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite”) and projected video (of a peaceful and “beautiful” green Earth ages ago when animal and plant life thrived and there was no pollution).[1]

You see, my friend, when we begin to go down the path of worldly existence, we face an end where we feel we are either forced to choose or accept a fate administered by others. But there is another option that I began with before this chasing of the rabbit down his proverbial hole. We have a choice to live this existence without fear of being terminated before our natural being is finished. We have the option to choose a life where the end is up to us – albeit not one of a sad mortality, but rather, a new beginning.

As Jesus told his disciples, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”[2] Again and again, Christ told all that would listen, “that whosoever believeth in my shall have eternal life.” When we believe and follow Jesus, we can’t help but realize our true calling and the reason for our very existence on this earth. We are not simply another body taking up space, consuming resources that others might need more than us. We are here to be a light for those around us. The greater we share that light with others, the more intensely we serve. When we finally understand this purpose for which we have been made, we finally begin to see how each day is precious. As if we were opening that surprise gift we had always wanted, we should awaken each day as if it were our last.

While we say goodbye to another year, somewhere, someone has just given up hope in tomorrow. Somewhere another has decided they cannot go on living in a world in which there are no freedoms, further lock-downs, and the threat of increased government crackdowns for the sake of the greater good. Some are saying 2020 was the worst year of their lives, but some have never had a good year – ever. It is these people, those that are genuinely lost, those without hope, those that you don’t even realize have given up; these are the ones that you must strive to think of the words to the son, “I can’t add more days to my life, but I can add more life to my day.”

May your New Year’s resolution be to be the light for those around you and for those whom you have never met, nor may never meet. Sing from the mountain tops, shout it from the deepest valleys, Jesus Christ is the true salvation – Believe in Him and find that your eternal life begins when this life ends.

Looking forward, one can see where authorities have already started dictating who is most essential or groups that are high risk and that these are the ones that should receive the first doses of the Covid vaccine. While on the surface, this seems purely logical, you might want to ask, “Who gets to decide, and is it the same everywhere?” Take this idea a few steps farther, and you might begin to see the reason for my concern. Will we someday be asked to voluntarily end our lives for the greater good, or will we be dismissed from receiving a life-saving vaccine for the sake of allowing the more essential to live? If we are asked to volunteer, will it be to save the greater good, or will it merely be to escape? One must consider these ethical questions when our leaders begin to make decisions that are out of our control.

Ageism is not a new ideology. Several themes in literature and movies to which predetermined ages were set for humans come to mind. Like the movie Logan’s Run or the short story, Law of Life, by Jack London, societal restrictions imposed term limits, so to speak, on how old humans were allowed to live. The principle is that the elderly would eventually become a burden to society. Finding a way to eliminate them, either through voluntary choice or government-imposed regulations, became the accepted fate in these literary pieces. In Logan’s Run, some awakened to this horrific belief and rebelled. In the latter work by Jack London, the reader is left to decide if the choice was detrimental or a matter of preservation of the tribe – thus preserving the greater good.

Going back to one of the two extremes, either volunteerism or authoritarian imposition, the movie Soylent Green brought to light the former. When Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson in his final film role) had seen enough of the chaos in the world he lived.  Deciding to end it all, he went to the assisted-suicide facility known as “Home”. His friend, and star of the movie, Thorn, played by Charlton Heston, watched in the control room as his friend experienced his requested ending. As written in the article from the web page, “Greatest Movie Death Scenes, the author describes how the movie portrayed Sol’s end. “He had chosen a poignant, painless and suicidal death in the euthanasia clinic’s chamber. He was put to rest (to “go home”) with orange-hued lighting, classical music playing (Tchaikovsky’s “Pathetique” Symphony No. 6, Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony No. 6, and segments of Grieg’s “Peer Gynt Suite”) and projected video (of a peaceful and “beautiful” green Earth ages ago when animal and plant life thrived and there was no pollution).[1]

[1] Greatest Movie Death Scenes, Soylent Green (1973), https://www.filmsite.org/bestdeaths20.html

You see, my friend, when we begin to go down the path of worldly existence, we face an end where we feel we are either forced to choose or accept a fate administered by others. Sadly, the movie Soylent Green focused on the natural world and disregarded the spiritual. In the 70’s when the movie first aired, I had yet to enter the walk of faith on which I trod today. The scene of Sol slowing dying as he watched the old world, the one he once knew in his younger years, pass away. To my teenage mind, it was heart-wrenching. Had the movie looked at the end from a Christian lens, Sol never would have been at the “Home” to start with. But if he had been coerced, forced to end his life, the beauty that played before him would have only been a prelude to what was to come.

Yes, there is another option that I began with before this chasing of the rabbit down his proverbial hole. We have a choice to live this existence without fear of being terminated before our natural being is finished. We have the option to choose a life where the end is up to us – albeit not one of a sad mortality, but rather, a new beginning.

As Jesus told his disciples, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”[2] Again and again, Christ told all that would listen, “that whosoever believeth in my shall have eternal life.” When we believe and follow Jesus, we can’t help but realize our true calling and the reason for our very existence on this earth. We are not simply another body taking up space, consuming resources that others might need more than us. We are here to be a light for those around us. The greater we share that light with others, the more intensely we serve. When we finally understand this purpose for which we have been made, we finally begin to see how each day is precious. As if we were opening that surprise gift we had always wanted, we should awaken each day as if it were our last.

[2] John 10:10 KJV

While we say goodbye to another year, somewhere, someone has just given up hope in tomorrow. Somewhere another has decided they cannot go on living in a world in which there are no freedoms, further lock-downs, and the threat of increased government crackdowns for the sake of the greater good. Some are saying 2020 was the worst year of their lives, but some have never had a good year – ever. It is these people, those that are genuinely lost, those without hope, those that you don’t even realize have given up; these are the ones that you must strive to think of the words to the son, “I can’t add more days to my life, but I can add more life to my day.”

May your New Year’s resolution be to be the light for those around you and for those whom you have never met, nor may never meet. Sing from the mountain tops, shout it from the deepest valleys, Jesus Christ is the true salvation – Believe in Him and find that your eternal life begins when this life ends.

Thanks be to God.


May your New Year’s resolution be to be the light for those around you and for those whom you have never met, nor may never meet. Sing from the mountain tops, shout it from the deepest valleys, Jesus Christ is the true salvation – Believe in Him and find that your eternal life begins when this life ends.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Greatest Movie Death Scenes, Soylent Green (1973), https://www.filmsite.org/bestdeaths20.html

[2] John 10:10 KJV

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You are More Than a Vessel

by Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”[1]

Across the valley, the distant mountain tops lay shrouded in a soft dusting of white that appears to be cast in gold as the waking dawn cast its rays upon them. Behind them, the darkness trails the night’s passing; with it, the fitful dreams of a mind that searches but cannot find peace. Like those distant peaks, we know they are not really made of gold, and likewise, those dreams of Apocalyptic demise are just as surreal. Yet, around us each day, there seems to be an ever-growing season of discontentment. As voices rise against the mounting darkness, they are silenced before they can become heard. Those who listen can hear those echoes from thronged masses who for so long have relied upon others to stand up for them – in some ways, it seems that soon, there will be none left to stand.

Grandfather Mountain at Sunrise, Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

Each of us was put here on earth for a purpose. While many see their lives as a simple matter of birth, life, and death, there is a greater calling when one awakens to God’s plan for them. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he assured them that God had provided them something special, something greater than themselves – the light that shines within. As the Apostle Paul put it, “The light of knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” When we realize that we are nothing more than a vessel in which our soul inhabits, like a house that one calls home, we soon understand the scriptures that speak of mortality and decay. While these words are not meant to demean or cause despair, but rather, they are intended to make us aware of the impetus to use that with which we have been endowed to serve Him to the fullest. As this earthly body ages and begins to deteriorate, if we are faithful to God’s plan, we are likewise slowly becoming more Christlike. This metamorphosis is what is known as Sanctification.

No matter the century, no matter the evil that stalks our daily lives, we can take comfort in knowing that God is with us. You ask, “How is this possible?” The answer is in the verse, “that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” While we have, as Paul put it, “earthen vessels,” it is not our exterior that gives us strength, but rather, that which is within. Let us not be confused for one second and allow ourselves to imagine that we can contain God within our own being.

That is entirely absurd.

However, it is Him working through us, in spite of ourselves, that makes this statement possible. We are like a fiber optic cable, the glass thread, and God is the light that travels down that hair-thin bead of glass. We could no more contain God’s infinite power than our own solar system’s sun, which easily dwarfs anything of power we can begin to imagine – yet, God is infinitely greater even than our own star, the sun. So it is that as we find God working through us, we begin to know that regardless of what goes on in the world around us, we can take comfort in knowing that regardless of what happens in the next few weeks or months, we are only passing through.

Our preparations, our focus should not be on this world, but the next. As we turn our hope toward the life to come, we can then lay aside the trivial torments of this life. Meanwhile, we can become the light to those around us, and in so doing, lead them to Jesus Christ – the Savior of the World. For there is no greater purpose for every believer than to use all that you have been given to find a way to reach those around you lost in that sea of darkness. Like the tide that goes out before the dawn’s early light, they recede from help before we can reach them, feeling as if their demise will come with the end of this society’s failure. They have tied themselves to all that the world has expected of them, and in so doing, have no other hope than what the media and the world allow them to hear. Their thoughts are infected daily with scenes and stories meant to pull them through one sensational event to the next – each perpetrated only to keep them in bondage to what they are told. A vicious cycle of fear, excitement, and sin creates a sea of unending doom to the viewer. Few even realize how they have been led astray – yes, they have been played.

Through God’s grace, those who have found salvation must be mindful of this universal ongoing deceit when approaching friends and family that have no clue as to what they have been led to believe. Not only are they like the drowning victim, quick to pull under the one who seeks to rescue them, but they are also quick to discredit or dismiss your favor as merely a religious fervor. When we step into those dark waters to begin our life-saving, we must remember it will not be easy. Paul told us that we would experience untold obstacles, but with each one, we should be mindful of how we overcome them, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” And as the Apostle Paul put it, all the while being mindful of our own mortal being. Being conscious that while our earthly vessels are attempting to thwart the heinous throngs of the dark forces of this world, God’s limitless power will provide for us in our time of need.

Time is of the essence. For many, they feel the end is near. We cannot say when Christ will return, but when we are called to the Judgement seat on that final day, it will be too late for many.

We must seek them out.

Find them in those dark places.

Find them in the deep water.

Call them, write to them, but don’t hesitate – the time is short.

We have been called for a time such as this.

Thanks be to God.


[1] 2 Corinthians 4:6-11 KJV

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A Soul in the Middle of Nowhere

They once called it “Nowhere” mountain. Today it’s known to the rest of the world as “Rich” mountain. The slow gradual climb slowly wears at your body, walking or running. The deceptive incline slowly takes you to a secluded overlook. There only the stone remnants of an ancient house’s foundation are all that exist. Leftover from another time, a bygone century. For a moment, above the distant mountain peaks, above the wayward meadows there is a feeling of freedom. The cattle in the fields dispersed amongst the shaded oaks and hemlocks, lowing in the fresh mountain air. Their voices bellow across the ridge. Once this was all that there was of a pioneer outpost, a home in the wilderness. It eventually became the property of the Cone’s. Today, it’s a place where one can go and find themselves a few moments of seclusion from a world that seems to fall out of control a little more each day.

photo by: Sweetwilder

A few days ago, I had found myself atop of Nowhere. Therein lies the story – it was part of my run.

Before I continue, let me say that this is not meant to be any shape or form of bragging. There are times that we must share something in our life that has become a testimony; thus, the sharing with you of how running (or the semblance thereof) has become part of my spiritual journey. Besides, my sister, a practicing Cardiac Nurse, recommended it would help strengthen my heart. Something with which my Cardiologist wholeheartedly agreed. Truly, if you saw me in action, you would know there was nothing to brag about.

Several weeks ago, the Lord convicted me to start running again. At the time, it was as if something inside me wanted to be done with this life. Between the never-ending accusations of our society from one extreme to the other, to the seemingly never-ending pandemic, fueled by every political conspiracy theory you can imagine, one begins to look with joy toward the next life. In a sense, pushing my body to the extremes will either make me a healthier warrior for the Lord or it will take me home to be with him quicker. The options are Pauline in nature, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.[1] Herein lies the rub: many have not, nor have no idea what that “next life” is. They live day-to-day, battling from sunup to sundown without hope. Their lives have little to no direction. For them to find the way to life eternal on their own would be like finding a needle in a haystack. While we want to help them as much as possible, we can only plant the seeds. It is by God’s Grace that we are saved. As Jesus told his disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.”[2] Sadly, there are greater numbers of lost in our world than those who are awakened to God’s plan of salvation. For those who know Him, and have asked Him into their lives, there is that hope of life eternal. Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”[3]

I don’t know the exact mileage of each week. I don’t keep track of the miles that my body has been pushed these recent days, but this much I can tell, there is a renewing of the soul. Slowly, my body shifts from the unhealthy cravings as before to now, those of wholesome, natural foods beckon my taste buds. As I had experienced once before, the feeling of how the body changes when it is exercised to the extreme is not new to me. Yet, the reserve with which I can now control my diet and temptations to imbibe in things that only go against not only your body’s health, but the spirit within – these have become the things to which I am now drawn, those things which enrich the body, soul, and spirit.

This journey is not about becoming the fastest. The goal these days is to merely push this terrestrial body to become the best it is capable of being, only so that my soul has a better home. I heard Ravi Zacharias mention a quote from the 19-century writer, George McDonald a couple of days ago. McDonald said in a roundabout way, that we do not “have” a soul, but rather, we are a soul.  “We have a body,” he said, “but we are a soul.” Genesis says it best, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.[4]  This new perspective has really made me rethink the way in which I had been approaching life. 

In the act of pushing my body, I am then making a better dwelling place for my soul to live within. The nicer the home, the better the soul can feel. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “ What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”[5] The more features the temple has, the more possibilities there are for the soul to flourish, and with it, the spirit. When our spirit is awakened, it then is able to welcome the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. Then, as we might prepare for an esteemed guest, we would too want our temple to be the most glorious that it can be. It is in this vein that my pursuit of the new day’s dawn, from the time, that the sun hits the horizon until long past its setting – my days are thus filled to serving Him.

Pain in this life is a constant reminder that we live in a fallen world. There is not a run that I take that I don’t have pain. My dad used to say, “The day that I wake up and feel no pain is the day that I know that I’ve died.” Today he no longer suffers. His body was healed when his soul was welcomed into that home above.

In my youth, I longed to train in the mountains; something I was never afforded. Now, in my advanced age, here I am, training in the mountains. There is no pain like that of running up a continual climb at elevations over 3,500 feet. To try to lessen the suffering, I learned a long time ago in those early training years, that if you could talk while you were running, then it would keep you at a pace that was optimal for practice runs. In that vein, my journey has brought me full circle. Since I run alone most days, there is only myself with whom to converse. As I’ve mentioned many times in other writings, today I work as unto the Lord, not unto man, and so it is with my exercise. So now, as I run up those steep grades, my practice of memorizing scripture is put to work, quoting out loud as I run. It is nothing spectacular. A word here, a breath there, and maybe after a few hundred feet a sentence is finished. This is how it goes.

The other day, as my practice of speaking scriptures as I ran continued, I happened past an older lady. She too was out enjoying the beautiful day before the afternoon storms came. As I passed her on my ascent up the mountain, she and I exchanged the usual pleasantry of, “Good morning.” On my way back down, she said something that gave me pause. Before I passed her, she smiled and said toward me, “Thank you for using your gifts.” All I could eke out was a simple, “Amen.” As I was still pondering her words in the back of my mind, I continued through my versus. Just as I was finishing John 1, I rounded a curve and broke out into a meadow filled with a plethora of golden wildflowers. My voice still trailed, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”[6] Suddenly before me above the field of gold, the sky around me was like a throng of white stallions waiting to stampede, yet were held at bay by a mighty hand. In the center of those towering billows of white, was a crystal clear, azure blue sky reaching to the heavens. Yes, the heavens had opened and my eyes searched those ever-changing Cumulus formations for angels ascending and descending. It was at that moment I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit dwell within my soul. For a moment, there was no ground beneath my weary legs, there was no pain, there was only the glory of God.

photo by: Michael Kight

Being afflicted through the sufferings of our daily life, and yes, in our daily exercise, are all part of how God shapes us. As Peter wrote, “But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.[7] In our youth, our bodies recover more quickly so that there is little time to dwell on the struggles through which we face. As we age, it takes longer to recover and to overcome those once trivial obstacles. Through the tribulations of life, our soul is refined as the sword in the fire. Through these trials, we are made stronger when we learn to lean on Him, and in so doing, find hope for tomorrow. “By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope…[8]

This morning, the water was still dripping from the trees. The abundance of storms had passed in the night leaving the air fresh, new, and alive.  The sound of the bountiful life-giving fluid made it feel as if I was surrounded by a tropical rain forest. The effect it had upon my body felt good. Like a blanket of comfort, its warmth enveloped my being. My mind drifted back to the Garden of Eden and how it must have felt for Adam and Eve before their sin. It was at that moment that I realized that while we are affected by the world through our flesh (our body), it isn’t always negative. There are moments, as in that instance, where we are blessed by God through his marvelous creation. Through those beautiful sunrises, to the smile of a newborn child, we are given glimpses into his love and majesty; thereby, enriching our soul, allowing the spirit to be lifted. Yes, even when we happen onto the edge of a golden meadow while His words parse through our lips we are blessed. When we are one with Christ, we are then afforded to allow the Holy Ghost to dwell within, and in so doing, find beauty in places heretofore there was only sadness and despair. These precious moments in time uplift our soul, and like the afflictions, strengthen it. 

Not all growth has to be painful, for, at the top of Nowhere, one can be afforded the most gratifying reward – to look upon the distant mountains and valleys and rejoice in God’s glory. As the air slowly returns to our weary lungs, as the heart beats blood to those body parts that are fatigued and ailing, we can be blessed by more than what this world of man will allow. It is up to us to sometimes go to the middle of nowhere and call upon His name.

And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”[9]

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”[10]

And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”[11]

 As you go through each day, beware of the effects the world has upon you through your body. Live each day as if your soul depends on it. 

Eternity is forever.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Philippians 1:21 KJV

[2]  John 14:6-7 KJV

[3] Luke 9:24 KJV

[4] Genesis 2:7 KJV

[5] 1 Corinthians 6:19 KJV

[6] John 1:51 KJV

[7] 1 Peter 5:10 KJV

[8] Romands 5:2-4 KJV

[9] Luke 11:9 KJV

[10] Psalm 23:3 KJV

[11] 1 Thessalonians 5:23 KJV

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Changed by the Storms of Life

And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”-2 Cor. 1:6

The morning brought about overcast skies; something that hadn’t been part of yesterday’s plan. Contemplations of getting up and finding new subjects to capture to use for future inspirational messages were quickly shrouded over by the gray skies above. From my vantage point, sitting on the picnic table at the Collettsville General store, I sat in humble submission to all that God was trying to reveal to my simple mind. Even knowing what I know about my walk in the Lord, it was evident, His plans were not my own, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.”-Isa. 55:8

Blueridge Mountains, Collettsville, NC.

The clouds loomed so closely that one might have perceived it to be dusk; the birds flitting to and fro cared little. Cars going by, crossing the bridge, had their headlights on. For late June, it was a pleasantly cool morning. The John’s River flowing past echoed a constant gentle whisper. Its voice was the blank canvas for all other voices, bemoaning a solitude to any that might listen; a respite from the worldly nature of mankind. If only one could sit each waking hour by such a place, how much more complete would their earthly life be? If the curse had not been placed upon the world, how much more awe-inspiring would this appear?

While contemplating all that was before me, the thought of how much more this might mean to one that had known struggles, darkness, and sorrow came to mind. Many of my friends, colleagues, and even myself included are facing all manner of persecution and trials. To this end, my thoughts began to reflect upon how much I wish each of them were here with me to see what I can see. But even in our afflictions, we must keep mindful of how our Savior is using this to mold us, make us stronger in our faith. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”

Like a soldier having survived the atrocities of war, perhaps even death by his own hands, to then return into the normal society; he cannot help but be changed, forever altered in his perception of the fine line between civility and cruelty. For a moment he can be in the real world, and a split second later, he’s back in the hell from whence his world was forever altered; blood, gore, and mayhem the likes many of us may never know, nor shall we want too. Likewise, a person can return from the depths of struggle and despair so great, that once they do, they too are forever changed, never to look again upon a normal life without understanding how many divine circumstances have attributed to that fragile thread of what is deemed normalcy. Each one of us is so close to the edge of the abyss of having nothing; ever so close to losing it all, yet we doubtfully are aware. Those who comprehend this perilous precipice have the perception of both edges of the double sword. They are keenly aware and feel the sense of urgency unbeknownst to those around them. This difference makes them often seem either distant – when they choose to remain silent for fear of distancing those with whom they wished to be with – or that they appear overzealous in their beliefs to the point they unintentionally ostracize those they love. In essence, they push away those very people who they seek to reach.

When we accept Christ into our lives, when we turn away from the old ways and take on the new, we are also forever changed. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”-2 Cor. 5:17 All of those things in the past are forgotten; those old ways of sin, those old habits of which kept us in bondage are gone. We are set free. At that moment, in that embrace of total immersion into following Christ, we too can become separated from those around us who either never realized our change, or who have yet to come to know Him as we have come to know Him. Either way, we become a different person, one in which we have died to our former selves, and being such, we no longer rely on the old ways.

In that moment, when we are saved, we become a new being. When we do, we face the same circumstances as those who have either lived through traumatic life events or circumstances. We must be mindful of our presence among those non-believers or even those who think they are Christian but are not.

It is a precarious path we walk when we are changed.

Not only that, but our perception of this fallen world changes as well. The world around us takes on a new light. Things once unseen for the sake of chasing after the natural things of this world are now visible. Our senses are like that of a babe, freshly receiving inputs from old receptors but are now seen through new eyes. Gone are those filters of addiction and worldly influences. We are cleansed by His blood, washed white as snow.

Wherefore, he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”-Eph.5:14 When we awaken from that death, we open the door as if to a freshly fallen snowscape; pristine as it had been from the beginning. In our sin, we were too lost to see what was before us all along.

Lastly, when we become one with our Father, we no longer have to question our ability to speak with Him. We know that he listens to all that we lift up in prayer.  Even in our weakness, God will intercede for us in prayer, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”-Rom.8:26-28

We understand that even on the darkest of days, those in which thunder clouds are looming on the horizon, there is still even reason to rejoice. Even when those countless prayers we have lifted up go unanswered, we still know that He is listening. “I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”-Ps. 27:13-14

In the waiting, there is learning…and always hope.

When we feel downtrodden in that waiting, take heed and remember, He sends us his helper, the Comforter, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”-Jn 15:26

Yes, even on those days when you expected sunshine and God sends showers, rejoice in all that is given. We only have one earthly life to live. Let us not waste this time in despair, but rather, share the gift of salvation to all those who will hear. Be mindful of your audience and be not anxious. Some are meant to plant while others will reap; often will we see both. The fields are ripe for harvest. Now is the time.

Let your light shine for all to see.

Thanks be to God.

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Charity is Love

 “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”-1 Cor.12:28-31

Tonight, I had to just get out and walk, taking in the view from the mountaintop. Grandfather was already tucked in for a midsummer’s eve slumber as the distant clouds barely allowed the setting sun the opportunity to cast its last golden rays upon his brow. There was nary a breeze, as the tops of the foxtails barely moved. My own forehead was damp from perspiration; the climb was not easy. Leaning against my walking staff, it couldn’t go unnoticed the lacerations and scars on my arms from work done these past few weeks on the building I’m calling the spiritual retreat. The thought of how we all serve God in a multitude of capacities passed through my head like the approaching clouds.

We cannot all be apostles, prophets, or teachers. Some are called to serve with what ability they were given; for some that means laying blocks, digging footings, and working in construction. At the present time, these latter talents are working heavily upon my soul, for they not only challenge our mind but more so, our bodies. When we are unaccustomed to the hard labor of such work, we are presented with the daunting reality of not being physically able to handle what lies before. If we choose to accept that challenge and answer the calling, we then step into what becomes a metamorphosis of both body and soul.

Like we are asked to do so many times in Jesus teachings, we become changed when we die to our former selves. When the course is one so difficult that it becomes a labor of blood, sweat, and tears, we are changed even more quickly. That once tight belt has become so loose, that new holes to latch with are required. Before long, even those have become loose. Braces for pulled tendons slowly fall by the wayside. Scars replace the bloody bandages as new cuts and bruises make their mark. The body slowly becomes adapted as muscles grow, allowing the work to seem less cumbersome.

At the same time, as we walk in our faith, we likewise struggle to understand the scriptures to their full potential. We read and understandeth not, we hear and don’t listen; yet, with time something changes. Stumbling as we walk along our path of faith, we slowly find those perceptions and understandings beginning to grow like our bodies; each adapting until we become metamorphosed into a new being. What once was only lines in a book become the words to which enlighten our innermost being, our spirit within our soul. When we become one with Christ, we allow the Holy Spirit to indwell, and it is then that we begin our true sanctification.

But we mustn’t become ahead of ourselves.

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”-1 Cor.13:1-7

As Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth, he was addressing the nature that we are all one body of Christ, each with our own added gifts. We should not see ourselves as better than anyone else no matter what we are capable of doing. We should not get “puffed up,” as he put it. As in my case, it is more of the reverse, for seeing, and feeling, how difficult and arduous it is to work with block and stone, I have even more respect and admiration for those that do it for a livelihood, not that I didn’t before, for it is now a heightened awareness. Likewise, is my respect and awe for the list of others whom Paul addressed as the people of whom we should covet their gifts. But then alas, we come back to the warning of doing just that. Even though there are those who seem to be perfect in what they do, the most eloquent speakers, the most admirable leader, we should not seek that gift of which they possess; rather, there is something much more miraculous of which Paul was speaking; charity.

The Greek translation for charity is, “agape,” which also means love. In this case, it refers to a man’s love for other mankind. Knowing that the charity of which he speaks is actually love, the words, “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity,” then make more sense. For as Christ told us, the greatest commandment of all is to “love one another as I have loved thee.”

Yes, we should know that no matter how excellent we appear to the masses, there is nothing greater to achieve.  “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”-1 Cor.13:10-13

In the end, no matter what our calling, the words that ring most true to me are these, “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things,” with regard to God the Father. No matter if you are swinging a pick in a muddy ditch as a laborer, scraping grimy plates as a dishwasher, or changing diapers in a nursing home, we beareth all for the Lord. Some serve in their daily capacity knowingly, never asking for praise, but doing as they are called. In the end, we are still all one body of Christ.

Tomorrow morning, the body may feel every swing the hammer from today, but when we rise, we are granted another day, another chance to share the love of Jesus with someone else. Our wounds will heal. Our aches and pains will eventually subside. Cast off the feeling of doubt, shout out loud, “Satan get behind thee,” and boldly step out the door. Once more we fight our way back into the trenches, doing His will, working toward helping others to see the light and the charity of which we seek to share.

Faith, hope and love; and lastly, let us not forget charity.

Thanks be to God.

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God Be With Us Till We Meet Again…

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..”-Romans 1:16

They come for many reasons.

Today was another first.trail8272015

On another Sunday, I was called to be at the Trail. Last week, a congregation held their church service inside the Church in the Cave exhibit. Today it was a group from the Concord area coming to tour. Although it was a Sunday visit, it didn’t diminish my feelings for being at the Trail on what is most people’s day of worship. To me, it was another way of honoring God, and so, where two or more or gathered, there He would also be; and so it was.

When the group first booked their reservation, they were within our limits of just one tour guide, but over time, the party grew until it was clear by this morning, that I too would get to lead a tour once again; meaning, we would have two separate groups. Brother Barry, our original guide for the original smaller group, had just returned from the valleys, so I was anxious to hear him lead once more and to provide insight only one having been to that faraway place could divulge. So when we began the introduction, I asked that Barry lead that segment for both groups, which he was glad to do. His introduction was so overwhelming, so complete, my heart questioned if I was going to be able to be up to today’s task in the shadows of such a magnificent guide. Silently, as we moved from the topographical map to the movie room, I lifted up a prayer asking for wisdom and guidance for the right words. God would hear my plea and soon, I would be back in the moment.

As we left the movie room to embark on the Trail, Barry asked the visitors who were some of his good friends from the area along with some of John Bradshaw’s family, the host of “It is Written,” to follow me. My heart leaped with fear and humility. Barry had offered his beloved and esteemed guests to my care, and now the honor was placed on my lap. Again I prayed, “Lord, please be with us and help me to allow your Word to be most evident.” In the blink of an eye, there was a surge of energy pulsing through my mind as all of the history and scripture began to surface in my head. Again, He was listening.

We walked through time, …as time stood still.

Moment by moment, God allowed me to share the history of the people of the valleys, the Vaudois. From my sharing of the possible first encounter with the disciples, while standing in the Barbas College to the singing of hymns in the Church in the Cave, my dedicated group of visitors began to learn about the past and their host. Slowly, monument by monument, my heart poured out to them as the story came alive in my mind and the scriptures continued to intertwine the words from my mouth.

Concerned about the time, I was hesitant to share my testimony once we entered the Ciabas Church, but once more God spoke, and I listened. There my story of faith, realization, and discovery allowed for me to tell the tale of how my own understanding of the Waldensians came to be. There I had to ask the question, “If you were never told of Jesus, as I was never told about being Waldensian as a child through adulthood, how might your world be different today?” Then to carry it a step forward, “How can you go into the world and expect those around you who have never heard of Christ, to act any differently?” It was then I explained how many of my own family had fallen away from their ancestral faith. They had never known of it, so what was there any different in their lives to change them? What did they have to stand for? And yet, they had everything to lose. Would they have been different had they known all along? Would they have made the same decisions in life? Had we been told, at least we could have had a choice. Likewise, those who received the invitation to accept Christ, they also have a choice to make once they are asked. Once our conscious mind is awakened, God gives us the free will to select which path we will take.

It is up to us to choose.

The centuries passed and before we knew it, our tour groups were reunited at the Community Oven. My day began just after sunrise, rekindling the fire in the massive stone structure in preparation for the baking of the bread. As weary as my body was, there was no hint of it in that instance. My wife and son met us at the oven, and together we shared the bread with our guests. My heart leaped with pride as I watched Tron’s carrying on the family tradition, alongside our brother in Christ, Barry, under the shelter of the maple tree near the end of the Trail; a nearly perfect ending to the end of a picture perfect day.

As my dad use to remark on such days, “The sky is blue, the grass is green, and the birds are all singing; …beautiful, just beautiful.”

Yet, there was one more special treat that God had in store.

As the tour came to the conclusion, we all made our way back to the Visitor’s Center. Barry and my family had to leave, but most of our guests remained to eat their lunch. Meanwhile, I stayed off to the side cleaning up and providing support as needed. When they finished, the group came toward the front of the Center to say goodbye.

They all gathered before me, united as together as a family would do before bidding farewell. It was then one of them made the announcement that they all wanted to say goodbye to me. They then began to sing the hymn, “God Be With You Till We Meet Again.” My heart leaped once again. In an instance, I was a small boy once more, back in New Harmony hearing my grandma and my Aunts singing in church, their sweet voices united in one accord. Before I knew it, tears began streaming down my cheeks as they concluded in sweet, blissful acapella harmony. It was another precious gift from God; another first.

The words were gone; I was speechless.

One after another, I shook their hand’s goodbye, trying to apologize through my tear filled eyes.

We concluded with a picture on the front steps, me and my new found family; brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yes, we said goodbye, until we meet again. What a sweet heavenly day that will be.

As one lady reminded me as she left, there are so many without the very thing we are blessed to have because of what Christ has done for us; Hope.

Yes, today I was blessed once more.

There is hope.

Thanks be to God.

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