Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

The Gift of Love

Yesterday, I witnessed something that tore my heart right out of my chest. This morning’s scripture spoke to that event. “The father of the righteous shall greatly rejoice: And he that begetteth a wise child shall have joy of him.” – Proverbs23v24

Our Ratio Christi group was holding their end-of-summer retreat. It was a day filled with activities focused on faith, fellowship, and God’s word. One of those planned events was a trip to Elk Shoals New River State Park. The park was packed. But we managed to secure a spot on the white sand beach. Our group set up camp by the water’s edge and began to enjoy God’s creation while breaking bread together.  After eating, some of our group read, some played in the river, and some just sat and talked while reading their Bibles.

It was a pretty chill time.

We weren’t actively seeking out those whom we could save. We weren’t standing on a platform shouting out Bible verses. We were simply enjoying our time together. It was the first time some of us had seen each other all summer.

It was when I was teaching a couple of members of our group how to skip rocks across the river that she showed up. A young preteen girl, who will call Olivia, came up and asked us to show her how to skip rocks too. So, without skipping a beat, we began showing Olivia how to spin rocks off your fingertips, treating her just like one of the gang.

From there, we blended back into various activities; some took naps, some played volleyball, while I worked with a group on a crossword puzzle out of the Blueridge Christian News. As we did, I noticed the young girl gravitating toward one of our group’s young ladies, whom I will call Beth. Beth and Olivia began walking and talking while wading in the water, exploring the small rapids not far from our beachhead. Later they joined the volleyball game. In amongst those trips back and forth, I caught the eye of Beth, and she gave me a thumbs up – she was making progress, meaning she was finding out about Olivia’s faith while building a relationship.

Later, Beth and Olivia came over and lay down with the others working on the crossword. Olivia was really taken by our diverse group and said, “You guys are so cool. You have the neatest group, how you just hang out and play together.” Then she asked what we were doing. Meanwhile, Beth had pulled me aside to share what little she had learned about our new friend; she was visiting from Winston-Salem with her brother’s family. Olivia had also shared with Beth how she felt she was a Christian but that all they ever told her about God was baby stuff, treating her like a child. It was then that God began nudging me.

Curious, I asked Olivia as she lay down beside Beth on a blanket, asking about our puzzle work, if she had a Bible to read. She answered, “Yes, but it’s a baby Bible. They don’t give me anything grown up to read.” Again, the nudge grew stronger. My mind began racing through where I might have a spare Word in my car. Beth looked up at me, and we could read each other’s thoughts. “I’ll be right back,” I said as I quickly returned to the car. Beth joined me a short time later, realizing what I was doing, and we looked through all of our belongings for anything we could share with Olivia. All that was there was a track about Jesus. So, thinking the best, I suggested Beth put down her contact information so that, hopefully, Olivia could write or call her when she got home. “Who knows, you could plant a seed.”

So, we went back to the group where Olivia was still hanging out, now trying to help the others solve the puzzle. Beth lay back down next to her and began showing her the track and the information she had written on it in red ink. The preteen’s eyes lit up. She was very excited to receive the small gift and got up to take it back to her family, saying, “I’ll be right back.” Meanwhile, Beth got up and said she needed some time alone. The nudge came gain, but I tried to ignore it.

Time passed. Olivia hadn’t returned since we gave her the track but instead was back out in the river with her brother and his family, enjoying playing with the little kids. “It is as it should be,” I said to myself, not giving it a second thought. My thoughts echoed, “Hopefully, we hadn’t offended her or got her in trouble with her family.” Beth returned and assimilated back into the fold, and we moved on to other things, even though she seemed troubled by something. “Maybe she was feeling the nudge too?”

After about an hour, the sun was quickly casting long shadows across the beach. People began leaving in droves, and soon, we found ourselves mostly alone. Then, from across the way, on the edge of the tree-lined parking area, Olivia shouted goodbye, naming out a few of the names in our group, especially Beth’s. We all waved and happily bid her farewell. Then, out of the blue, Beth grabbed her Bible and yelled, “Wait.” Immediately, I thought that she would share the Gospel of Christ with her, maybe leading her to salvation. My heart was warmed by the thought, “This college student with the heart of a missionary, reaching out to this preteen on an unassuming casual afternoon.” The rest of us went on talking about the unique child and how she had been so open and seemingly wise beyond her years since she told us she was only eleven.

Before we had finished discussing the encounter, Beth returned, her head down but eyes swelled with moisture. I went over to her, and the tears began rolling down her cheeks. Something had happened in the parking area that deeply affected her. Had the family been mean to her? Had they possibly done something to Olivia when Beth tried to speak to her? These questions began racing through my mind as I hugged her trying to comfort her. She then, through the crocodile tears, smiled and said, “I gave her my Bible.”

My heart nearly stopped.

To understand the magnitude of this comment, one would have to know Beth. She wasn’t just a “Go to Church on Sunday” kind of youth. She is one of the most rock-solid believers I’ve met yet for her age. Already in her twenties, she’s been a driving force in our Ratio group, constantly pouring over scriptures, sharing her family’s mission work, and helping others to grow in Christ. All throughout her Bible, she meticulously makes notes and references, which she can later go back to and help others. To know Beth is to understand how important the Word of God is to her. So, when she said those five words, “I gave her my Bible,” it almost tore my heart out of my chest.

But then the nudge reminded me that my hesitation to do the same was perfect. Olivia needed something she could understand, something that would guide her. My thoughts were to do the same, but that good old King James Version would have been too stand-offish. Beth’s Bible version was much more user-friendly in that regard. No, Oliva needed something comforting, something she could sink her teeth into, not a childish or “Baby stuff” type of Bible, but something that she would treasure – a gift from a mature young lady on a sunny Saturday afternoon at the park. The countless hours of devotion and prayer that had been poured out over that Bible would now be there for that young girl to consume into her heart.

That tiny seed we had meant with the little scripture track had suddenly become a giant seed of hope.

Later, after our evening meal, we gathered on the edge of Jefferson Mountain and watched the sun slowly sink into the horizon. Silent, reflecting, we all pondered over the day’s events. All were special in their own way, but the one sentinel moment which stood out, the one that we will never forget, was that most amazing unselfish act of love, as Beth gave her precious Word of God to a total stranger. We didn’t need to shout it from the mountain tops. We didn’t need to put on some fancy revival camp meeting service. All that was necessary to witness to the world was just to be ourselves, and allow God’s light to shine through.

It was there in the golden glow of the setting sun that we understood what the love of God looked like, and we were blessed beyond measure.

Thanks be to God.

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The Blood of the Martyrs

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” – Mt. 24:7-14

Visar Kryeziu/APVisar Kryeziu/AP
A father hugs his daughter as the family reunite after fleeing conflict in Ukraine, at the Medyka border crossing, in Poland, Feb. 27, 2022.

What you are about to read is based on a true story. The name of the mission and its members have been changed or omitted for safeties sake. May the Lord speak to you through this message.

The men walked with their families, wives, children, and the elderly. Some held hands with their loved ones. Others carried babes in arms, cherishing the last moments that would forever be etched into their hearts. As they approached the border crossing into Poland, they could see up ahead the checkpoints created to secure those passages to freedom, to safety, a place beyond the horror of war that they had just escaped. Yosef could feel the lump in his throat grow as he watched those with him become ever more anxious. Everyone knew that when they reached the border, Yosef would have to return to their village, leaving them, possibly forever.

Each able body man was asked to return from escorting their family to the border to fight for their country, their freedom, their lives. Yosef was no different. He knew that he could not escape with the women and children, that he and the other survivors of his village would do all they could to defend their country, their homeland, and their faith. Standing up for what is right was easy back in their town when they still had a home. But now, the shelling and destruction forced them to abandon all they knew and loved. It seemed that all they had left of their former life was their faith, for everything else had been stripped away.

Yosef and his brother Caleb had both worked with missionaries from America, training to become evangelists in Ukraine. Their work was to seek out others and share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Although they had worked regular jobs during the day, their eventual goal was to become full-time evangelists traveling around their country and becoming missionaries in their own way. But weeks before Russia attacked Ukraine, the American mission teams were asked to leave for safety’s sake. The missionary leaders and their families were as heartbroken as were their trainees, but everyone knew it was for the best. Besides, it would just be a precaution, and they would all be back together continuing their ministry before they knew it.

That was over a month ago. For Yosef, it seemed like an eternity.

It was Friday morning, the day before Sabbath, and Yosef could remember getting ready to go to work. The small hospital where he and his brother worked continued treating patients even though the attack on their country had begun. Yosef and Caleb were only orderlies, but due to the recent influx of war injuries, they were asked to help bandage and care for the less severe wounds. He was just about to go out the door when his daughter rushed up to him and begged him to come back and help her put on her boots for school. “Mommy’s busy with little brother,” she said, pointing to the back room of their small but modest home, “I need you to help me, Papa.” Yosef knew his wife, Evette, was busy with their newborn son, so he was happy to oblige.

“It’s okay, baby. Papa’s got you covered.”

She smiled as he knelt down to the ground, pulling the boots up as she pressed her little feet into the pink unicorn galoshes. Her hand rested on his back, and he could feel the tender touch of her sweet disposition, warming him through and through. When he finished, he lifted her up and gave her a big hug as she wrapped her little arms around his neck, returning the embrace.

“Now, I am off to do God’s work. You be a good little girl and have fun at school. You hear me?”

“Yes, Papa,” she smiled ear to ear, waving as he turned to walk out the door. Across the street, near the newly constructed apartment complex, Caleb waited in his car. He and Yosef always rode together, and today was like any other. Although Caleb was always there, always on time, he hated being late. So, when he saw Yosef emerging a second time from the house, he waved toward him as if to say, “C’mon, we’re going to be late.”

Yosef smiled and waved back. It was all too funny. His brother could never relax, even when they were witnessing to others. He seemed to never be content with just learning the verses their mentors had asked them to memorize. No, Caleb had to push himself, learning entire chapters that contained those verses. He was always driven to give his all. It was just who he was. It was this thought of his dear brother that remained when the flash of light suddenly erupted before him.

Out of nowhere, a sound like thunder ripped through the air. The ground folded under itself as the rumble of the earth shook Yosef to his core. One minute, Yosef was waving at Caleb, the next, he was blown backward, his feet trailing behind him as he watched his body being lifted up by the force of the blast. All Yosef could see was the image of his brother, smiling and waving, and then it was as if the screen on the television had gone blank, and the silhouette of the ghostly image of Caleb remained. His brother’s soul was burnt into his eyes.

Clouds of smoke, dust, and debris began raining down. The light was broken, and darkness had prevailed. Somewhere a dog barked as car alarms started blaring. Yosef didn’t know how long he had been unconscious, nor where he was, when he finally sat up. People ran before him in all directions. There was no sound in this landscape of destruction, just the images running through the fog of silence, interspersed with mouths that had no voice. Across the street, the entire structure of the apartment complex that once stood was now gone. The road beside it was a crater. The cars there were now either blown to pieces or burning embers. Yosef realized that Caleb would not be waiting anymore.

Painfully, he turned to look at his own house. The entire front of his home and all the others on their side of the street were caved in. People poured out, frantic, screaming, yet their lips were muted by the searing pain that shot through Yosef’s head. It was as if the world had gone insane, and nothing made sense. Softly, and gently, from behind him, he felt the touch of a little hand. He turned to see his daughter, still wearing her little pink unicorn boots. Her eyes were rimmed with fear as tears fell down her rosy cheeks.

“Papa, papa,” she sobbed. Yosef’s hearing began to return like a wave of emotion as he reached for his baby girl wrapping her in his arms as she sat on his lap. Soon, Evette emerged with their son in her arms, weeping and crying. There they sat amid the rubble as the world around them spun out of control. It was then Yosef realized he only had one thing left he could do and began to pray. His heart poured out to the Lord as the tears fell down his face.

From that day forward, their lives were never the same. It seemed that each day, more lives were lost, more arbitrary destruction, none of it made sense. Finally, when the shelling became so dire, they realized to stay would mean certain death for everyone, so Yosef did what all the others in their village had decided, to take the women, children, and elderly to the border then return to fight, until the end.

Yet, each day, since they had begun their painful march to exile, they felt the hand of God on them, protecting them, delivering them from harm. Yosef knew that had he not listened to the voice of his daughter that fateful morning when Caleb was killed in the bombing that he too would have died. It was as if God had spared his life for a reason. God had spoken through a child to save his life. How much more could he do to return the favor? Each day, Yosef could feel the faith inside him growing. Evette seemed to sense it as well and encouraged him by reading from their tiny Bible she had brought along. The scriptures spoke to them more and more each day.

Reaching the crossing, Yosef turned and embraced Evette. He didn’t want to let go, for he knew when he did, it would be the last time. “Yosef, you will make a difference. Don’t forget who you are, and take this,” she passed the little Bible into his palm as she leaned into him; close now, face to face, “You’re going to need this more than ever before,” she whispered as they kissed goodbye.

Down by his side, he could feel the tiny hands holding onto his pant leg. As he bent down, his heart began to melt. The tears filled his eyes, and he realized this would be their last time.

 “Papa, you are going to do God’s work, right,” the little voice said, sincerely and without fear?

“Yes baby, yes, papa will…,” and he stopped, choking back the flood of emotion.

He hugged one last time and turned to leave.

It was his time. This would be the end.

He would not look back.

The Bible in his hand reminded him that this was all that made sense. So, mustering every ounce of strength he could find in his weeping soul, Yosef silently began to pray. As his voice lifted up to the heavens, a tingling sensation began to rise from the earth, pouring through his legs, up through his spine, until it reached the top of his head. It was an energy that made him want to shout, Amen! It was a sense of urgency, a sense of purpose. It was something that finally made sense.

It was time to do God’s work.

Unexpectedly, those strained, war-weary faces became the pulpit, their souls became the fields white ready to harvest, and his voice began speaking words of faith and encouragement. The voice of God began speaking through Yosef like a runaway freight train. He was a man on fire for the Lord. If he were to die, he would go out doing what he was meant to do. There was nothing to lose and everything to gain.

From the corner of his eye, as he made his way through the crowd, loving, praying, and finally evangelizing like he always hoped he and his brother would do someday, the flash of a familiar color caught his eye. A tiny flame of hope. The diminutive form in the bright pink unicorn boots was waving her encouragement from the top of the steps of the train station.

Like a man in the middle of battle, he paused, and he returned the motion. The little face smiled and gave a thumbs-up gesture and turned to leave. His heart melted in two. In the pause of the moment, Yosef heard a voice from somewhere up above saying, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.”

And onward he pressed…until the end.

Pray for Ukraine, Pray for the World.

Thanks be to God.

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We Do Nothing of Ourselves

I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. He that sent me is with me. The Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” – Jn. 8:26-29

As I write these words, again trying to put them to memory, the thought of the past week haunts me -sickness. Lying upon one’s bed for agonizing hours gives one too much time for reflection and agitation of not being capable of doing what is needed. Yet, it is in these suffering minutes of eternity that life’s focus once again becomes clearer.

What we do in this life, how we stand before those doing the same thing, making it through each day the best they can, makes all the difference. We can go about moaning and complaining, or we can go about letting the radiance of what gives us hope to shine through our aged, withered skin. Though our façade may be falling away, that twinkle in the eye, that gleam of spirit within, can give someone else a shimmer of hope in a world that might otherwise seem lost. But alone, we cannot make that happen. It is because, as Jesus said, “I do nothing of myself.”

Dr. Richard Hines Jr. walking with Aaron Israel, sharing the word of God.

How much more we all could take away from those few letters that formed his response? “I,” the Christ saying of himself, “do nothing of myself.” To hear the Son of God expel this sort of mindset, to hear he, who is God in the flesh, admit that alone, he is nothing, should give us all a shaking to our very marrow. The humility, to put one below his station, and to praise his heavenly Father in such a manner is to admittedly pronounce an even greater appreciation for who Jesus was and for his ministry here on earth.

To know that in his short three years of evangelism, those twelve men to whom most of his focus was upon left an indelible mark upon humanity. The story of Jesus alone was of an earth-shattering revelation, but alone, had the enemy had their way, it would have slowly died off like those Apostles. But because of their steadfast faith and with the power of the Holy Spirit, they were able to achieve far beyond what was humanly possible. This alone, to understand the early church’s fragility and the great danger it faced, is to understand the miraculous growth and creation of the faith we call today Christianity.

In today’s world, the thoughts of last week seem ages ago. Take into consideration what you were doing at this time three years ago if you can. Then, as you stretch your mind to recover those frames of time, imagine what it might have been like to have been walking along with Christ, to have seen all that would have transpired during his earthly ministry, and see if you could begin to recall each day, let alone just a week living in that moment. It must have been nearly mind-altering for those disciples to keep up, let alone retain just portions of what Jesus was trying to tell them. We see in scripture, again and again, as if Christ is repeating himself but using different metaphors or parables to enlighten them as to what is coming. Yet, although it’s easy for us to see, they never seem to grasp what Jesus is trying to convey to them. It isn’t until the cold, steel door of death slams shut do they finally realize the grim mortality of what it was Christ tried to say. It was in the silence of those three long days that their minds must have retraced every step of every dusty road they had traveled, trying to understand what had happened and if it was all for naught? How so like those three days are those when we are forced by illness or injury to lie in repose, held captive by our recovery as our mind is free to roam.

Do we ever consider what our past lives have been for and if we too had lived all for naught, but in a very different manner than those early disciples? Or maybe, you’re one of the few that have lived your life already living for God. What would you give to relive an hour in your memory’s history, to be with that dearest grandparent one more time, to hold that child that left this world too soon, or perhaps to hold the hand of that loved one that slipped away in a tragic accident? These are all the things we can understand, but to know what it was to walk with God, there were only twelve that knew that feeling. Imagine what they would have given to go back one more time? What would you give to spend a minute in the presence of Christ himself while he was fully human and fully God?

But they were blessed to have a second chance.

The grave could not hold the Son of God, and from the day of his resurrection to the day of his ascension, you can bet there wasn’t a moment with him that wasn’t cherished beyond measure by each of the surviving disciples. Yet, it couldn’t last forever.

There in that upper room, when the last of the forty days of His resurrection had come to an end, when they all waited for something Jesus had said would come, but again, they could not understand still. It was when the day of Pentecost came, and the tongues of fire came down from Heaven, landing upon each of them, empowering them beyond what was mortally possible. They left that chamber changed men, never to fear the world around them again. It was from this revelation that understanding that they could never go back, nor should they, for their future was preaching the story of Jesus Christ. It was from that blast of the Holy Spirit, a whirlwind of a revival, that the news, story, and faith of Christianity burst forth, spreading across continents, to finally circle the globe.

As we face a world that seems to spin a little more out of control every day, know that we needn’t look back for comfort anymore. We have also, like those Apostles, been given a second chance. Our hope is in the future. So, if you don’t know Jesus Christ, find someone that does and ask them to show you the way, the truth, and the light, and watch what happens to your world.

If nothing else, open the Bible to the book of Romans and read chapter 10, preferably starting at verse nine. Maybe then, you will finally read why Christ died for us, and perhaps then you will see why true believers do nothing of themselves.

Thanks be to God.

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Red Pill or Blue Pill?

by Timothy W. Tron – Feb. 12, 2022

In C.S. Lewis’ work, “The Weight of Glory,” he asks a very pertinent question that we seem to be facing more and more each day in that, “How do we decide what is good or evil? The usual answer is that we decide by conscience. But probably no one thinks now of conscience as a separate faculty, like one of the senses. Indeed, it cannot be so thought of. For an autonomous faculty like a sense cannot be argued with; you cannot argue a man into seeing green if he sees blue. But the conscience can be altered by argument; and if you did not think so, you would not have asked me to come and argue with you about the morality of obeying the civil law when it tells us to serve in the wars. Conscience, then, means the whole man engaged in a particular subject matter.

But even in this sense, conscience still has two meanings. It can mean (a) the pressure a man feels upon his will to do what he Thinks is right; (b) his judgment as to what the content of right and wrong are. In sense (a) conscience is always to be followed. It is the sovereign of the universe, which “if it had power as it has right, would absolutely rule the world.” It is not to be argued with, but obeyed, and even to question it is to incur guilt. But in sense (b) it is a very different matter. People may be mistaken about wrong and right; most people in some degree are mistaken. By what means are mistakes in this field to be corrected?”[1]

Then, when we contrast Lewis’ words to the account in the Gospel of John, when the Scribes and the Pharisees brought the woman caught in adultery and placed her before him, planning to accuse him of judging, we see how the conscious can be a powerful force. It is a crucial aspect that many overlook.

So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”[2]

Why did they depart beginning at the eldest? Were there mistakes they realized that needed to be corrected? When we read this line of scripture we get the feeling that the older Pharisees immediately recognized their own sin and, in so doing, were shamed into dropping their figurative stones of accusation and leaving the temple.

But again, I ask, “Why did the old men leave first and not the young?”

When presentations to an audience are given, it is widely known that the younger the general age of the listeners, to a point, the quicker and more amplified is their reaction to what is being delivered. So, how was it that those who usually took longer to respond would leave first? Should they not have spent time trying to recall all those years of living in sin? Or were they deciding upon the options – fleeing would be dropping the charges on a slam-dunk case, essentially saying that this unlearned teacher was right? Saving face must have been another reason not to exit because doing so was only confirming the speaker’s own reversal of accusatorial questioning.

To answer these questions, we must look deeper into scriptures and understand what those Pharisees would have known and to consider that the power of the Holy Spirit was indeed at work.

We start at the beginning, when God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”[3]

Up until that point, man’s consciousness was only aware that he was alive, awake, and able to tend to the garden of Eden. There was no need to understand beyond what God knew. This freedom of will, the ability to choose between obeying a simple command, was man’s gift – to do with it as he pleased. But when they partook of the tree, “Seeing that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise,”[4] they suddenly became aware of their nakedness, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.”[5]

Not only had they now broken God’s commandment but they also became the cause of the first physical death. God made the first blood sacrifice to cover their sins when he provided them “coats of skins, and clothed them.”[6] As the natural man develops, we can now see how one physically matures. In children or childlike nature, we see innocence. The desires of the flesh are not understood until the age of puberty. When the growth hormones kick in, and suddenly our childhood playmate, sweet little Susie, has curves we men never noticed before, and something inside us starts to smolder, like kindling that was dry and brittle, waiting for the spark to ignite. A beautiful body, free of cumbersome coverings God had made, and with it, a place of such beauty and profound richness that man could have literally lived forever. They were fully mature and with a knowledge probably far exceeding that of today’s man. They understood that God’s command came with a price, for he didn’t simply say “Do not eat of the tree,” but rather, he told them the consequence that would occur if they did, “You will die.” Yet, the disobedience, that choice to decide to go against God’s will, his one and only rule, brought forth retribution for all mankind.

It would take the Grace of God to save us from ourselves.

Those Pharisees who had cornered Jesus in the temple that morning were suddenly made aware of their own judgment of the flesh. The simple statement, “He that is without sin among you, let he first cast a stone at her,” reminded them of their mortal shortcoming. The adultery, the sin of the flesh, brought about an accusation based on the Mosaic law, yet those who judged were no better. A sudden conviction of their own conscious shook them to their core. Alone, a conviction of one’s conscious can be humbling, but when that sense is in the presence of God, it becomes enhanced, amplified to a level that must have been unbearable.

Now, let’s focus on the younger men who were with the accusers. Were they lingering longer because they had less sin to fear? Or were they following the lead of their elders? Or was it possible that the next generation doesn’t have enough consciousness to know when to leave or stay?

“What do you mean by that,” you might ask?

1 Cor.8:7-12 “Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.”

Think about how the world is trying to reshape consciousness. From the video game addictions to just how we are being controlled through social media, we are constantly being bombarded by the growing presence of AI. The movie “The Matrix” has an almost cult following among our youth. In it, humanity exists as a level of consciousness connected by a supercomputer, plugged into every human so that their collective consciousness is one. Our youth have already begun to question if the reality we see is really the real thing – red pill (reality) or blue pill (to live in the fabricated world of The Matrix)?

Which pill do we choose?

When left to the powers of their own natural instinct, men are carnally minded and think in linear terms. They follow their “gut” instincts, allowing the world to influence their decision-making. We can predict from their past behaviors what their future actions will become. Artificial Intelligence (AI)  is based on this assumption. The Oxford Languages definition of AI is “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”[7]

Does the next generation have enough consciousness to know when to leave or when to stay? Those in the temple that day tarried. Did they lack the same level of conviction? Are they representative of our youth today? What will be the driving consciousness to the next generation? Will they rely on AI to give them the answer?

Rosalind Picard of MIT warns, ““The greater the freedom of a machine, the more it will need moral standards.” [8]

Left to our own devices, we will find comfort in those images, songs, and pages of information that AI will feed us. Unfortunately, the more we allow the input, the more we go down that path, being led to a destination that is less than desirable. We become like an opioid addict, requiring more of what the world has to offer until we diminish the very consciousness meant to govern our will.

We need to wake up and realize that we must make our own decisions and not be led as animal is to slaughter. We’ve been given the means to know the truth, for it is by the Word of God that we can find comfort, hope, and truth. The Bible is one of the most precious gifts we have. We must not let the world change that.

God created man in his image so that being human is more than just having knowledge wisdom, but the conscious sets us apart from his other creations. Through our consciousness, we can do his will. Through this God-given capacity, we are capable of knowing right from wrong because each of us is a free moral agent.

Which pill will you choose, red or blue?

When those Pharisees turned and left the temple that day, had they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, and were they suddenly and completely awakened to who Jesus really was, the Son of God?

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost,”[9]

Someday, we shall know the answer.

Thanks be to God.


[1] The Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses. Copyright © 1949, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1976, revised 1980 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

[2] John 8:7-9 KJV

[3] Genesis 2:16-17 KJV

[4] Genesis 3:6 KJV

[5] Genesis 3:7 KJV

[6] Genesis 3:21

[7] https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/

[8] http://truthreallymatters.com/wordpress/

[9] Romans 9:1 KJV

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A Morning, A Turkey, and A Cup of Coffee – Reflections

“Does the mother turkey think about the time she spent on the nest, preparing to hatch her brood?” This morning, the thought came to me as I watched a hen and her hatchlings move through the undergrowth of the nearby forest. Sitting on the porch of the Spiritual Retreat, the memory from three years ago popped up on my social media feed. As humans, we have the capacity to look back and reflect. Sometimes, we are made aware of how far we’ve come, both physically and spiritually. But, more often than not, we are painfully reminded of how far we have to go.

As the picture revealed, the first five or so rows of cinder blocks of the building that was to become the spiritual retreat were just starting. Yet, like that building, my development into how God was to use me in the next few years of my life was just beginning. Although it was just a few rows of blocks, it was a far cry from where my family and I had started our journey. You see, when you make that choice in life to finally quit beating around the bush and choose to finally surrender all to God, it becomes a lot more complicated when you have a family. As the leader, whatever your choices are in life will eventually, if not immediately, affect the ones you love. So, when you decide to give it all in and follow Him – go wherever do whatever He says; your family is right there with you every step of the way.

So, even before the first bag of concrete was poured, before the first tree was cut down to make a place for one to find themselves closer to God, I made a vow – that this project would be for God. It was a personal commitment that each step of the way, my actions, my thoughts, everything that went into creating this building would be of God and with God.

To understand such a vow, one must realize how far we had already come. The verse, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new,”[1] had become part of the new me. Something else that I strove to maintain in the forethought as the real work began was this verse from Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Once God took the reins, it was as if the roller coaster ride had just begun. From moving an entire farm, moving our entire household belongings not just once, but twice, to starting an entirely new career, not once but three times in less than a year and a half – to say it was mind-boggling would be an understatement – it was numbing. Through each step, through every valley, there was always another mountain to climb. As Moses was tested through the desert, we were tempered like the steel he wanted us to become. Through it all, we found that alone we were nothing, but with God, all things were literally possible.

As first mentioned, sometimes we look back and see we are at the same place we were years ago. Although this is not always bad, it can also be disconcerting. Stuck in a proverbial rut, trying to change things on our own, we feel like we are on board the grand ship Titanic. To turn the massive vessel around before we crash headlong into the iceberg, we need more than the tiny rudder which corrects the enormous boat ever so slightly. We need more than a rudder. We need an entirely new vessel. Seeing how we can feel trapped, some give up and go on, living the life they think they have been dealt, not realizing that there is something more magnificent, if only we awaken to what God can do for us. For when we truly give it all to God, we find, not because we give it all to him to expect wealth, fame, or fortune – no, quite the opposite. For it is then, when we absolutely commit our lives to serve, it is then the real challenges begin.

It was a very difficult and painful decision to not only leave behind years of sweat and toil but also a lifetime of friends who had come to be part of our extended family. Some of my co-workers, folks that I had known from my beginning at the company to which I had devoted my life’s work, must have wondered if I had finally cracked under the stress of the job? Others must have thought that I had lost my mind. If only they knew. In a sense, it was true. I had been changed. My natural mind was replaced with one mindful of the Lord and how it was to fully give it all to Him – every-thing, yes all!

Some of those friends and neighbors who had known us for years had to wonder in amazement as they saw us leave behind the farm we had carved out of the forest. We literally began a dream from scratch. It was not easy. There were the multitude of memories created; watching my son catch his first fish, seeing my daughter ride her pony at full speed up the road, to those quiet evenings rocking together in the front porch swing. Yes, like that mother turkey with her brood following closely behind, when we are family, we don’t just do anything alone. To make a life change to serve God requires more than your own trust in the Lord, it requires the whole family to follow.

With eyes open, we can see anew. We are changed, and the focus in our lives shifts to not just of things of this world, but the preparation for life eternal through the gift of life given to us because of God’s only Son. When we realize that what time we have left here on this earth has a purpose, if only we awaken to that task. It is then, when we come to the realization we are God’s creation, here to honor and serve Him in everything we do – it is then that the perspective of life changes.

So as the trees were hauled to the sawmill to be cut up to be used in the building, as the dirt was moved to pour the footings, it was quite literally as if God was there watching and helping each step of the way. The tiny abode in the woods next to my home where one could go and commune with God was to become a place where anyone could come and be alone with the Lord. Being separate, in silence, and surrounded by God’s creation – makes a difference. Jesus often retreated into the wilderness, himself alone, to find solitude from the crowds where he could spend time alone with his Father.

So, here I sit this morning, a nice cup of coffee in hand, the stillness of the forest all around me as the mother turkey takes her brood deeper into the safety of the deep woods. She may not think of her past, but I’m thankful that God has allowed me to look back and give thanks for all that he has done and is doing in my life. Although there are miles to go, a never-ending attempt to find Sanctification, there is the comfort in knowing that He is with us each step of the way. It is up to us to ask, seek, and ye shall find, as the verse tells us.

Friend, take a moment and look back in your life and see if where you are, today is where you really want to be? Is this where God is leading you, or have you given up? It is never too late to seek Him. But, once you make that choice, be prepared for your world to change in ways you would never have imagined. It’s the most extraordinary journey of all.

Thanks be to God.


[1] 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

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Alone – but Not Alone

My dear friend Richard’s wife, Ann Ruffin, passed away a couple of days ago. We all knew it was coming. Her terminal illness had been prolonged by Richard’s total commitment to her well-being. He had told me that being her primary caregiver was his mission in life.

Richard Hines Jr., Dennis Tracy, and I at Hebron Falls, 2021

In this time of mourning, part of me wants to reach out to my friend, to seek to help in this time of loss. Yet, another part of me tells myself, “What can you do? Richard is 86 years old. What can you do for him that he can’t already do for himself?”

Then the voice inside says, “Sometimes, all someone needs is just another person to be in the room with them, silent, but aware, saying nothing at all.”

When C.S. Lewis was grieving the loss of his wife, whom he called H., he wrote these lines, “At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.[1]

From those last few words, “If only they would talk to one another and not to me,” my feeling of wanting to go sit and be with my friend, saying no words, just being in his presence, impress upon my thoughts.

Likewise, we often misunderstand the Holy Spirit. As Lewis wrote in another article, “The real thing is the gift of the Holy Spirit which can’t usually be—perhaps not ever—experienced as a sensation or emotion. The sensations are merely the response of your nervous system. Don’t depend on them. Otherwise, when they go and you are once more emotionally flat (as you certainly will be quite soon), you might think that the real thing had gone too. But it won’t. It will be there when you can’t feel it. May even be most operative when you can feel it least.”[2]

God knows infinitely more than we will ever begin to understand. “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.”[3] So it is that when he sends the Comforter to us, it will be in ways and in our presence that we comprehend the least. It will be like a silent friend sitting with you in a room with the air as still as a morgue. The only evidence of life is the faint sound of the wall clock ticking in the next room. Time passing, as we too shall someday.

If we genuinely seek to be like God, to walk with Christ, then we too shall understand how sometimes fewer words, or no words, speak volumes more than some of the greatest speeches presented in all of humanity. Our nature is to seek the companionship of others. Mistakenly, we sometimes think we have to spew empty clichés when wanting to console our friends and loved ones in their time of loss. But we are only speaking the reflection of our own empathetic prose. When we find ourselves alone without another being in our presence, it is then, in this void of humanness, that we find we are truly not alone. If we believe in God and know Him, we find that we need others less. Yet, we also find that when other believers are with us, His presence increases. Does Jesus not say in scripture, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them?”[4]

As C.S. Lewis wrote in the grasp of his grieving, he was shaken to his core because of the loss of his dear H. Through his words, we can find a Christian in pain, seeking consolation. Howbeit he, Lewis, being an intellect, it must have been evident to him, either then or later in life, how much more he needed God’s comforting hands upon him. We can read how he sought others in those lines of text, yet he didn’t want their words, only their bodily presence. In this light, we can feel how Lewis, either knowingly or unknowingly, craved the Holy Spirit to come into his life. Yet, there is a part of me that says he might not have fully comprehended the complexity to which his grief had confounded his thoughts, to the point, he sought that which had gone, but in truth, was only passed from this life to the next.

We are but vapors in this life, here for a moment. We will someday spend the rest of this life in eternity. Where we spend it is up to us. When a loved one passes on, if we know of their faith in Christ, if they had received the gift of salvation by the Grace of God, we can then be more than assured, yes, we can be sure that they are there in the presence of the Lord and the host of angels waiting for the day when we arrive.

Pray for my dear friend and his family in their time of loss, but let us also praise God for bringing home another daughter in Christ.

In all these ways, let us say, “Thanks be to God.”


[1] A Grief Observed. Copyright © 1961 by N. W. Clerk, restored 1996 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Preface by Douglas H. Gresham copyright © 1994 by Douglas H. Gresham. All rights reserved.

[2] The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy 1950-1963. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. 

[3] John 14:16 KJV

[4] Matthew 18:20 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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This Little Light of Mine

by Timothy W. Tron, Dec. 2020

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

Tonight, as I pray for all those people in my life, both within reach, and those distant, it is as if there is a never-ending list. Yet, as countless as the stars are in the sky, the Lord knows each of them by name. For each soul that finds its way onto my finite list, there are so many more that our Savior knows, and his grace emanates forth like one star shining onto the next until his list to us appears infinite.  And in this manner, we are found like the newborn foal in the dewy morning grass, helpless, ambling into an unknown future. Our ship’s sails may be full, but the rudder, the part with which we steer, seems inadequate for the vessel for which we have been endowed. The greater the berth, the more we are expected to manage – yet, even in the best of times, we can be overwhelmed with the blessings upon which we have been bestowed. The cargo for which we carry is that of being someone to whom others can turn, the light which shineth forth as does the natural world, also attracts that of the spiritual. Those with darkened hearts, those with diminished souls cling to us like a life support. We become the flame to the moth, so to speak. We know deep inside this shell of humanity that we are not worthy, and if we are even more abound in our faith, we know that it is He that worketh through us whom they seek.

Night Sky – by Timothy W. Tron, 2020

On a dark night, over 2,000 years ago, the stars above played an integral part of our Messiah’s birth. As part of our Men’s Connection Bible study, this morning we watched the very well written and presented movie, “The Star of Bethlehem.”[1] As we marveled at the details with which the show’s presenter depicted his case, in the back of my mind, there was a little voice wondering about all the other brilliance and imagery to which he did not mention. While science and mathematics can depict with uncanny accuracy the actual account of how the star of Bethlehem came to be, there is another side of the story where man’s intuition can never reach – that of the un-natural, the spiritual, and the Godly. For as Jesus told the Pharisees, “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only.[2] There in that night sky, not only was the star of Bethlehem showing the way, but there was another phenomenon taking place. As the shepherds stood with their flocks, there was, as they put it, a multitude of angels that illuminated the sky beyond their ability to describe in human terms. “And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.”[3] As those men in the field would later testify to Luke, not alone, but several eyewitnesses would attest, a luminescence far beyond that of what said star was already providing shone about them. It was so brilliant that it literally wrought their hearts with fear and trembling. We can see this again throughout scripture when man finds himself in the presence of an Almighty being, be it an Angel of the Lord or God himself.  But Luke goes on to reveal how much more these shepherds were afforded that precious night. As if heaven had taken pause and the entirety of heaven ascended to earth to witness the birth of God in the flesh, the multitude of angels filled the sky. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven,[4] As those lowly shepherds stook quaking in amidst their flocks, in awe of the presence of something no one before, nor anyone since had ever witnessed, they were given the message of “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

If you lived the rest of your life after such an event, that moment, that place in time and those words would surely never leave you. Had those ancient Jews been more mindful of the scriptures and voices of the prophets, they too would have been standing alongside those men in the fields. But alas, as God would intend it to be, their hearts would be hardened, and the image of the Almighty in the form of a helpless child, not the conquering King they had imagined would be the order for all time.

While we often find comfort in science and numerical evidence when it can back up those words that are encased within the covers of the book with the inscription, “Bible,” we must be reminded that this is only a minutia of detail to which we are afforded. The natural order and what man can fully understand are, but an infinitesimal part of all that God can do and provide. When we seek out those stories of old and find the infinite being allowing himself to become finite, the flesh, we for a moment can comprehend what he speaks. But as those Jews of old discovered, there was much more to that earthly mission than what humankind had anticipated.

There amongst those beautiful deep space nebulae from which the Hubble Space Telescope can provide to our vast array of scientific academia, we can find tiny lights that appear to be stars. They are, in fact, billions of other galaxies with billions more stars within them. There seems to be no end to what God’s creation can and will reveal. When we take the time to study the word to which we were given, the Comforter as Jesus told his disciples, we can find traces, vague footprints of angelic beings for which there is no understanding, no mathematical equation that can explain within the scope of human interpretation. It is then, when we realize the limits of our own being that someday our soul may inhabit a place we cannot begin to imagine, that we start to fathom the endless capacity of God. It is then that we understand how faith really works.

He must increase that we may decrease. And when we finally come to understand this, we will then begin to open our eyes to a new realization – we are nothing without Him.

Give thanks for all that you have, my friend, and pray for those whom you know and for those who don’t. From our little lights, we emanate out to others until we eventually become a greater light that makes all the difference in this world. So that someday, we too shall be one with the light of the world.

For we were once darkness, but now we are light, live as children of the light.”[5]

Thanks be to God.


[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OaVLA27V0s, ITN Movies, 2007, From Producer Stephen   McEveety (The Passion of the Christ)

[2] John 5:44 KJV

[3] Luke 2:9 KJV

[4] Luke 2:13-15 KJV

[5] Eph. 5:8 KJV

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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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