Tag Archives: Life

A Morning of Rejuvenation

The long-awaited time of recompense has begun.

In life, there are seasons.

One must traverse through these one at a time.

Old Blue at the Collettsville General Store

Some may feel like they have entered into the valley of the shadow of death. Others may feel as if they have reached the summit of life’s journey. Through each day, we are seeking a means to an end. For some, their grasp reaches no further than what is just before them. Many people today are self-absorbed in the many distractions of this world so much so, that they think no more about the consequences of their actions than that of a passing of a swift cloud overhead. It is because of the choices of the first humans, Adam and Eve,  that we live in a fallen world – thus, the reason for death and destruction. What we choose today can alter the course of our life for not just this lifetime, but for eternity.

Think about that for a moment!

My own journey has just passed through some very turbulent waters. While they are nothing compared to many people I know, they were at least some of the more challenging in recent years. To that end, my extended passions, art, music, and writing had to take a back seat. It was as if part of me had to be cut off for the whole of me to be fully engaged in receiving, and absorbing the information necessary to make it to the next stage of the journey. In some ways, it was as if the fruits of the spirit were slowly dying on the vine, withering away due to neglect. It was not something that I wanted, but it was the only way to make it through the valley in which I had traversed. Did I think about my choice as to why this was happening? Oh yes, frequently and often. Did it give me solace in knowing that my trials were making the path more difficult? Yes, for when we often are serving God, there are certainly times of trials and struggles, to which the Apostle Paul attested, again and again.

So, it was this morning, as I walked to church that once more, my consciousness was as clear as the air was cold. The trail I was on ran beside the John’s River. The frigid waters were a gray, forbidding froth as the mountain shed the previous night’s rain. The forest is now like a living graveyard, bones of the tree trunks barren and gray offering little comfort in their winter gloom. In the bountiful days of summer, their foliage provides a canopy of shelter from the sun. Yet, as my footsteps carried me forward, the sunlight was my welcome companion. My mind was free to recite scriptures, something else that had been derelict in my daily life, much to my chagrin. But today, as I walked, the words of the Lord flowed from my lips, like the waters cascading over the rocks in the torrent below.

It felt as if my blood was flowing once more.

Even before my journey had made it to my mid-way stopping point, the Collettsville General Store, there was the deep-throated howl of the hunting dog. “Odd,” I thought to myself, “Did I just hear a hound dog wailing this early in the morning?” Sure enough, as my footsteps rounded the bend in the road and the parking lot of the store came into view, there standing near the picnic table was the familiar Blue Tick Hound. We’d met before, and he seemed comfortable with my presence. So much so before, that when we sat together on the porch of the store, he sat next to me, as if we were old friends.

Today was no different, as he seemed to recognize me as much as I did him. I shuffled on over to the weathered picnic table and unloaded my pack and walking staff. Old Blue came over and greeted me, and I him. As I sat down, he continued to check out each car that pulled into the lot, either seeking his owner or a morsel of food. Either way, he kept coming back to me and eventually leaned over my shoulder as if to say, “Hey, how about some attention fella.” Reluctantly, for fear of coming away smelling like an old hound dog, I began patting the back of his head. to which he seemed to smile. He rather enjoyed it all the more, so much so, that it invoked his instinctual voice of glee to erupt into a punctual, “Baaaaroooooooof,” in my ear. It was the unmistakable howl of the bear-dog that I had heard earlier, and it had definitely been from my newfound friend, Old Blue.

It is in these simple moments of respite that one feels life’s vessel beginning to refill. As we sat there, me pouring a cup of coffee to go along with my devotional, and old Blue keeping watch, the morning sun continued to warm us, both inside and out. There are times when man’s best friend, even if he’s not your own, can be one of the best companions; and so it was today.

The traffic to Wilson’s Creek had almost entirely diminished so that the area of repose beside the general store was somewhat peaceful this Sunday morning. Old Blue and I chatted some more before he decided to go check out the visitors at the Ruritan’s Building across the road. I took the opportunity to continue likewise on my journey. But before I left, I thanked God for affording me the time to sit and be rejuvenated from one of his creatures.

Sometimes, it is the simpler things in life that make all the difference.

Thanks be to God.

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Lean On Me

Driving in the predawn hours along the winding road that leads through the mountains, the cold gray light of dawn ages everything. Outbuildings and barns appear centuries old, if not close to it in reality. Then the aged fence row, that corner where the rusted barbed-wire is intertwined with honeysuckle vines, comes into view. The wood of the posts, rough-hewn from trees long forgotten, now cracks long furrowed brows of age, leaning one against the other for bracing or sheer moral support. To the passerby, the entirety of the corner is a jumble of vines, rusty wire, and weathered wood. But if one were to stop and breathe in the scene, they would find something much more profound.

Having sweated and bled over many a length of ancient wire such as this in my farming days, corners like this one were all too familiar. There, in that forgotten end of the pasture, a strength from nature’s own would begin to recompense into another form – honeysuckle and briars would interweave themselves into that ancient wood making a formidable foe, one relying upon the other for support. In this scene of decay and unfettered growth, one could find a sense of need, a feeling of caring for those that need us to be there for them, day in and day out.

Fencerow on the Blueridge Parkway

As the campus begins to breathe new life, students returning with parents in tow, each seeking a new future, there again is that feeling – a dependency of need, one for the other. Yet, beyond that wild vine growing unabated, there is the aged support. We can all look in the mirror and realize we aren’t the spring chicken we once were. Those lines, those furrowed brows tell a story of worry and woe, some far greater than others. Although they show signs of wear, even if there is strength in their core, the façade is one that we cannot deny. No amount of makeup or plastic surgery can dismiss the truth. Time does not lie. So, as the youth’s vibrancy evolves from a sleeping landscape into a living being, those with memories of yore become the support for those entering this new world. 

In the eyes of the young, thoughts of gray hair and being old are only distant shores, places to cross in some far-off future. For now, they are immortal in their youthful minds. To mention the mere thought of eternity or mortality becomes simply a nuance, a fairytale from whence more exuberant adventure stories can evolve. For in their gaming worlds, you might die, but you quickly regenerate, return to life once again through some superpower. Unlike those weathered locust posts on our fence line, whose demise is slow but perpetual, the young adult only knows of a never-ending repeating cycle of death and regeneration in their make-believe worlds of social media and online games. Their bodies try to mimic this feat, with some pushing the boundaries beyond what is mortal. In the end, their fate can be predicted by those who recognize such patterns of ill-advised decisions. Yet, for one to believe, one must almost always find out first-hand.  

As Jesus spoke to his disciples, they listened and heard every word. Yet, again, for one to believe, sometimes a person must feel the pain of reality before learning sinks in. But like those unruly briars, those disciples’ paths were not retaining the preaching of the Christ, but rather, went off into directions that were inconsequential, of no use. It wasn’t until that day when their leader finally hung on an aged, weathered cross, its furrows deep from years of persisting in the elements, now filling with the blood of Christ. Like the veins of a new being, the wood comes alive as the slain Savior above slowly dies a painful death. His life ebbs as the tree now part of an unbelievable, unfathomable, cataclysmic event unfolds before the eyes of the multitude of haters. Those who persecuted Jesus could not understand how God could come to earth in the flesh as a man. God incarnate was against their law. They despised him from the beginning and sought to take his life only because he spoke the truth. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.”

As those disciples watched in horror as their Savior, the Son of God, died on the cross, they felt their support slowly eroding, being torn from their grasp. It was too late to turn back and rescind any doubts. It was too late to take back those moments when they questioned his deity. As the bracing of that ancient corner of the pasture was being ripped out, those sweet-smelling vines shredded from the grasp of that olden wood; likewise, their hearts wept bitter tears of pain as his leaving was becoming a reality.

 In the darkest, coldest, bitter nights on a college campus in the lonely corner of a dormitory, often near the latter stages of a semester, students begin to realize how they had mistaken that loving support of their parents or caretakers. Those helpful suggestions from that caring professor come back to haunt them as they face the magnitude of their decisions. Suddenly gone are all those bravado moments of fleeting joy, the inescapable memories of ridiculous expectations of what they thought they were in the light of what they really would become. Those pleasures of the flesh have vanished, and with them, their supposed friends. 

So too, those disciples began to retrace all the words which Jesus had said to them. Those many parables and warnings of his imminent death suddenly roared back like a tidal wave of humility and soul-sucking regret until they ran from the scene of Golgotha. Their hearts were breaking as their chests pounded from lack of oxygen, racing down the mountain hoping to flee all that had transpired. But too soon, as do those students who come to college for all the wrong reasons, all find that there is a day of reckoning. 

But Jesus told his followers that even though he would leave them, he would send a comforter. “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”

As those students often forget, when they leave home, they sometimes try to leave everything, including all they had been taught in growing up, there is an answer to their darkness. Like those disciples that ran and hid, there would be an answer. Although it wouldn’t be there the following day, the answer would begin to manifest itself three days later when Christ would arise from the dead. However, it wasn’t until he ascended to heaven that what he had predicted came true. For there in that upper room in Jerusalem where they hid from authorities, they finally received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Christ had finally been glorified, the mission had been completed, and now, the Comforter had been sent to be with them until their dying days. 

Likewise, those who find darkness overpowering their world don’t have to give up. While their academic or perceived future may have to be redirected or cut short, it is not the end. Those dark, lonely nights when the realization hits home, it is then that we pray somewhere, somehow, they either remember those lessons learned from their childhood in Sunday School, or that somehow, they have heard there is hope in Christ Jesus. Although it may seem as if life is over when those grades begin to slip and those grandiose aspirations begin to fade, all is not lost. There is something much more precious in life that awaits if only we seek it. For God doesn’t make us love him but instead wants us to choose him. It is our option, not our mandate. We can carry on living our lives trying to make it on our own, but in the end, we can never work our way into heaven. It is by God’s grace that we don’t receive what we are due, an eternity in hell. It is by His saving Grace, through the sacrifice of the blood of the pure lamb of God, his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, that we can have the hope of life eternal. 

For now, the fence row sits in the shadow of the mountain. That corner continues to stand as the ivy and honeysuckle continue to weave their network of hope around those ancient weathered beams of support. Like the threads of our existence, that rusted wire slowly erodes, but together, wire, wood, and vine continue to withstand the forces of this world as long as possible. The bend of the fence row stood long before my time and will likely continue to do so long after I’m gone. We are only here for a brief moment in time when compared to eternity. It is up to us to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. For as old as the story may be, its truth is more vital today than ever before, for it is not of our own hopes and desires but comes from the ultimate woven being, God, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. 

Seek God, search him with all your heart, and you will find Him. Knock, and the door shall be opened. For it is by His saving grace that we have the hope of life eternal.

Thanks be to God.

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To Return

“I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.” – Psalm 119:93

Rising this morning, the haunting memory of a thought, like that of a vapor upon a distant hillside, shadowed my presence. It was here, knowing that the past week or so has been a struggle not only physically due to an illness but also spiritually. The latter was due to the former, which had put me off of the schedule that had been developing over the summer. This change put me at odds with the ability to walk in the spirit as much as my daily routine had been allowing. It was troubling to feel this way, knowing how easily we are thrown off course. Thankfully, earlier this week, my footsteps began to return somewhat to that familiar path.

Tanawha Trail, Blueridge Mountains, NC.

Preparing to enter the Tanawha Trail, we parked at the trailhead off old 221, a gravel road stretching from Blowing Rock to Foscoe. There next to the parking area, where Black Angus cattle grazing on the lush green hillside. At the time, only the sight of livestock had quickened my heart. All those years raising them on the farm back in Chatham had ingrained in me a special connection to the beast. Here again on hills above us, those summertime hides, “fat and slick,” as Uncle John used to say, glistened in the morning sun. Suddenly, within a moment, it made one feel home again – that it was as if you had walked through that ancient doorway of memory and entered back into the loving fold of family. It was precisely what was needed to rejuvenate the spirit within.

Inspired as only God can do, we are often amiss without him, as we mistakenly feel, but in these times of isolation, we are drawn ever more close. As the cliché says, “Distance makes the heart grow fonder.” So, it seems sometimes we need to be reminded that without him, we are like a ship adrift on the sea with no rudder to guide our way.

It always impresses me how God knows what takes us back to our roots, to the place where we first encountered the world. For some, it’s a unique park or vacation spot. For others, like myself, it is the abundant adventures and experiences of our rural childhood. For me, it was exploring those vast pastures, forests, and lands of the farms of southern Indiana. There in those hills and hollers of the Midwest, God’s creation became part of my life. From those early impressions, when all seems confused and lost, there is a baseline, so to speak, to which God knows my thoughts can be reset too. From there, those formational memories, one can once more journey forth to where their next footsteps will lead. The reference to technology is not mistaken but purposeful.

That pasture’s very imagery, the one in which the Tanawha Trail ran through, its slope, the cattle, and the sunrise shedding its morning glow upon its face, reminded me of that long-ago mountain. So often, when we revisit places of our youth, that object which once seemed so massive now has shrunk in size. Yes, that mountain of my childhood was actually little more than a slight rise in the ground compared with where we now stood – we called it Sled Hill. In those distant recollections, it was a place where you could stand on the edge of that tiny town, New Harmony, and survey the entirety of everything below from the rooftop perspective. There interlaced with rising oaks and sycamore trees were the peaks and steeples of homes and churches. It was the first time that the feeling of standing upon the earth and looking out across the vista below felt closer to God. There, in that shadow of where life’s journey would eventually lead, there was no concept from which to compare that scene. It was forever etched into the mind as what it must be like to stand near the top of the world.

In the moment, surrounded by a host of relatives, we feel like this will be where we spend the rest of our days. In our heart of hearts, we are content with that. For decades it was the way things went. But then times changed. The world we knew changed, and suddenly we found ourselves thrust into the never-ending stream of advances in humanity. We were forced to adapt and overcome a very different lifestyle from the life of our forefathers. Secular society told us that we had to “make something of ourselves,” whatever that was supposed to mean. But those of us raised in Sunday School had heard something else, that alone we can do nothing. Thus began the conflict of interest.

Some take it upon themselves to believe that they alone can make “it” happen. Others realize, some sooner than others, that we can never do it on our own. Some go off to college. Others join the military. Some seek to escape the privation of that quiet way of life, seeking adventure or wealth. Either way, very few remained behind to stay in the place where we all thought we would never leave. Those that remained wonder about the lives of those gone on. Those that had to leave, or chose to leave, never forgot from whence they came. The question always burned within them, “What if I had never left?”

There is a saying that of itself seems trivial, but when it is explored more deeply, its truth resonates through the ages, “Once you leave home, you can never go back.” For what we find, is that even though you might physically be able to return, you are never the same once you leave. Your growth through the sheer experiences of whatever you found on your journey changes you. It is then, once you return, you see with new eyes what one could not explain to you before you left. Painfully, as we feel those around us unable to relate to what has changed us, we seek to find connections where there once was no question about relationships. However, we then discover that what is around us is not all that there is in life.

So we take a break from the reunion, walking out to that familiar landmark, whatever it might be, the beach, that old home place, or for me, the crest of Sled Hill, and pause for a moment and think about all that has transpired since we last stood on this spot. We find that the terrestrial has changed very little. Oh, there might be a fallen tree, a sand dune out of place, or perhaps a new roof on the old home place, but that which was physical remains the same. We suddenly realize it’s not the place that has changed, but us.

In Jesus’ day, he tried to convey to his disciples this same message, that once you turn to serve God in the way in which he asked, you would be forever altered. There would be no going back to who you once were, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”[1] Even as they found their understanding of Jesus’ parables and teachings challenging to comprehend, it was even more so for those Pharisees and Chief Priests. Even when Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, met with Jesus, he too could not comprehend what Jesus was saying even though he sought him out, knowing that something about him was calling him to believe. As Jesus explained, “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.      And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.[2]

They could not begin to wrap their minds around God in the flesh, let alone that Jesus told them that they did not know him or his Father. “Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.[3]

Like returning home, once we are changed by our travels, there is something likewise that will never be the same to those who have not found Christ in their lives. Until they take that similar path in life, those that stayed behind find it odd that you don’t want to go hang out beneath the bridge, drink beer, and skip rocks across the river. It is difficult, if not impossible, to convey to them that you have changed. You no longer enjoy the things of the flesh but instead find it more desirable to find those who are lost and engage them, striving to bring them closer to the Father.

Since those humble beginnings, God’s plan has led me to stand on the earth and look out upon remarkable vestiges of landscape. From my current home in the Blue Ridge Mountains to the mountains in our western states, to those beautiful, inspiring Waldensians valleys in the Cottien region of the Alps in Europe, God has opened my eyes to more of his creation as time would allow, and likewise, my mind to the understanding of his word. Although time seems to be running out, there are many more mountains to climb and much more to realize. Therefore, each day that there remains of this life, it is with a passion and desire that we should seek God in all of what he has bestowed upon us and to go wherever he calls.

From standing atop Sled Hill to walking up the Tanawha trail, there comes a time when we can feel the connection – how our past has shaped our future. Our walk with the Lord prepares us for what is to come. When you can sense a presence more wondrous than your own, to know that when we reach for that fateful day to finally stand, or rather kneel in his presence, we will then know what it has all been about. It is then we can only hope to hear the words, “Welcome home child, welcome home.”

We shall then gladly say, “Thanks be to God.”


[1] Luke 9:62 KJV

[2] John 3:8-15 KJV

[3] John 7:28 KJV

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Serendipity

In the still of the night, the word “Serendipity” came to me. There was no reason for the thought. There had not been any text that I had recently read that included the term. My first inclination was to write it down lest I forget. Unfortunately, I had not placed my journal by the bedside before going to sleep. Assuring myself that it would not leave me, I turned over and went back to sleep.

Of course, when morning came, the expression was gone in the midst, like the vapor of a dream.

Silently, the car made its way up the mountain. The turns in the bends, the fog, and the words of scripture which passed through my lips brought comfort in this predawn hour. Forgetting the day, the course of life, only the moment therein was alive. Suddenly, like a flash of light from the distant horizon, the word returned, “Serendipity!” Putting it in my waking consciousness, I vowed to retain it long enough to get it down on paper – and more importantly, to see what it meant.

[noun]

the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

“a fortunate stroke of serendipity.”

Sunday Morning, Collettsville General Store

After reading the meaning, the definition didn’t sit well with my soul. A word within its meaning caused me to wince – “chance.” When we walk in faith, when our journey is fully directed by God, there is no chance. It was here, again as a moment paused in time, that the walk to church last Sunday came to mind.

Rounding the bend in the road, there was the continued reminder of mortality. Someone at some point dumped off a deer carcass in the bushes. Time and weather had aged the remains into a stark, ivory remnant that stood out amongst the gray of winter’s last vestiges. It was not the first time I had seen it. Yet, it remained as a tale of life gone on before, the morbidity of the season – bone against a dreary backdrop of one’s demise.

The thoughts of the journey my life had become began to emanate from those bones, as a subtle suggestion of that likewise, time would end for us all – some sooner than later. Yet, there was the continued push to learn, absorb, and become more than I once was. The season of growth had not just begun but had continued since the long journey began, now six years long.

My eye caught the rushing waters of the river and how they pulsated against the rocks, flowing ever more furious downstream, never stopping, never yielding. As my way continued, my direction was upstream, against the river’s current along which I walked. “So much like the life I live,” were the thoughts that seemed to flow into my head. How much easier my life could be if it weren’t constantly going against the tide. Yet, to serve as I have been called to do, there is no time to waste. There is an impetus to strive for that next hill of knowledge, to seek the wisdom that cometh from God only.

These are the times in which my life’s journey has become.

Then there is the comparison of the natural world, the secularism of man, pursuing itself – washing the multitude of humanity with it downstream to the ocean. We who seek God go against this current. Some can barely stand firm without being washed away, like those rocks wherein the water below crashes violently against. As long as they remain, the water, the worldly current complains in the tempest of thrashing white water. Some give way and are tumbled along, not happy with their displacement, eventually finding footing once more to continue their stance, while others never find a way to resist and are washed away with the multitude.

As my path found its way to the porch of the Collettsville General Store, I discovered that my arrival was greeted by a lonely Blue-Tick Hound, likely a hunting dog that had been lost in the night. He welcomed me as if this was his home and treated me to a gratifying pat upon his neck. Soon, we found ourselves sitting side-by-side on that familiar spot. Once before, two dogs, Barney and Otis, had likewise provided companionship when there was none other. As we sat, watching that tide of humanity rush by, like those frantic waters of the John’s River flowing behind us, we sought the peace of God about us.

Once more, the word pursed its impression upon this reflected scene – “Serendipity.”

May you find the peace of the Lord today, no matter how small the token. Embrace what God hath provided and pause for a moment, giving thanks. As my late father would say of moments like these, “The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the grass is green. What else could be better?”

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…” – John 14:27

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Open the Doors and See All the People


by Timothy W. Tron
Feb. 7th, 2021

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Thanks be to God.

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There is Hope in the Storm

Yesterday, as I sat and watched the thick cloud bank slowly envelope Grandfather, I was reminded of incoming tides upon ancient seas. The jetties and rocks of life, like those distant mountain peaks, were soon to be covered by the rising waters of time. Before long, he had vanished, obscured by a billowing blanket of gray, blue, and white. Grandfather Mountain was not gone, this I knew, for I had seen him. It was not necessary to hope for his existence because by seeing, we know that he is still there. Yet, we cannot foretell what the coming storms will unveil. In a manner of hours, or even days, we may see a changed mountain, one blanketed in a snowy, majestic white mantel of winter; this is the wish of many.

With wanted anticipation, some may see the impending storm and look forward to a delay in the upcoming return to school. While others may fear what is to come knowing regardless of the road conditions, they will be expected to be at their posts or jobs. Likewise, those who walk in faith are much like those gladly seeing the possibility of winter storms; the former seeks the hope of life eternal by knowing that regardless of what the storms of life may bring, they have the hope of salvation unto our final dwelling place on high. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.[1]

But just as a child, torn from their home due to circumstances which have created living conditions so dire that the state has to intervene, they seek hope to eventually return home. Yet, what they don’t fully understand is that in order for them to return home, their parents or guardians must change. The addiction or bondage to the sins of the flesh must be broken. The downward spiral of drugs, alcohol, otherworldly lusts has permeated their lives so deeply that they often have lost sight of caring for their family, if not themselves. We’ve all see the posted mug shots of convicted criminals and seen the effects of meth, just to name one, on their physical being. Inside, there remains a remnant of the human being they once were.

Somewhere within, there is a flicker of a soul.

Like those school children looking forward to the coming snowstorm,  the Apostle Paul wrote of coming storms and afflictions, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;”[2] His point being, that those storms of life, the daily challenges and trials, only make us stronger Christians. Meanwhile, those of the world suffer greatly because their faith is nonexistent. There is nothing to embolden. In their despair, they seek earthly means to fill the void. The Apostle Peter wrote about them saying, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”[3]

Alone, those lost parents cannot conquer the darkness that holds them captive. It is by prayer and the hope of their children, the faith of which they often do not know, that they can be lifted up. These thoughtless parents reckless abandon for life is conveyed by those whose tender young hearts who are willing to still have faith. In their undying hope that their parents will change, unto the day they may return to a new home, those orphaned children never give up. Similarly, we seek faith to eventually return to our heavenly home because this world is not our home. Yet, we are not left as orphans to fend for ourselves, for our heavenly father awaits.  “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.[4]

Even though the parents of those orphaned children may be so lost in their sin that they don’t even realize the cause of their forced separation, nor do they know how to free themselves from the enslavement of their fleshly additions and afflictions, Christ gives us that answer. Through the power of the blood Jesus Christ shed upon the cross, we may overcome the darkness that seeks to devour our world and flood us with iniquities beyond our comprehension.

We cannot achieve this freedom alone.

In Hebrews 11:1, we are reminded that “…faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Having held true to my faith in these recent months, I can tell you from personal experience, the harder the clouds of turmoil flooded my soul, the harder I fell to my knees. There were no immediate replies. There was no blinding light that threw me off my horse and into the road. There were often days of silence. Nothingness.

But nothing worth having is ever easy,” – Theodore Roosevelt

As the scripture tells us, “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” From having seen prayers answered, it is then when we start to understand how one can have “evidence of things unseen.” Prayer is one of our most powerful spiritual tools. Daniel prayed five times a day. When his enemies learned of his daily practice, they used it to entrap him which landed him in the den of lions. Daniel didn’t fear but resorted to what he knew best, prayer. His hope of release from the expected doom was his answer to faithful prayer.

As we approach a future that sometimes appears, if anything but bright, we can be reminded that there is “hope.” As we awoke this morning and the clouds had departed, Grandfather was there as the sunlight began to cast its golden rays upon his face. His crown, a mantel of snowy white, now proudly unveiled for all to see.

The storm had been weathered.

There will always be the dawning of a new day. Don’t let the darkness of the light consume you. Although it may feel as the darkest hour is just before dawn, don’t let fear overwhelm you like the storm clouds smothering Grandfather. Let the light of Christ shine upon your life, and through you, such that those around you are enlightened by the Holy Spirit within your own. Choose to be the light in a dark world, like the beautiful snow-covered peaks of Grandfather this morning, their light reflecting the sunrise, like golden shields of hope.

Tomorrow is a new day.  Rise with hope in your heart and let your light shine for all to see.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Romans 8:24-25 (KJV)

[2] 2 Corinthians 6:3-5 (KJV)

[3] 1 Peter 5:8-9 (KJV)

[4] Ephesians 2:12 (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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Hope and Wait…

But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. 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”-Romans 8:25-27

Through the lush vegetation, he pushed. Behind him, darkness and danger had pursued him like demons from another realm. There had been many near misses; moments when it felt as if the very life had been sucked from his lungs. As he neared the edge of the jungle, the light from beyond beckoned, like a welcoming host waving their guest home.

He was so close.

Each day as he had neared the edge of the dark realm, he could feel the grip of death lessen. Each new day, there was an increased hope, like that of a child expectant of the excitement of opening their gifts on Christmas morning. At first, the feeling was barely noticeable, but as the sound of release from beyond the infirmaries of bondage slipped away, he could feel a growing anticipation of eagerness stir within his blood.

Yet, he could not see what was to come.

He thought back to the verse which echoed in his mind like the raptor’s call off the nearby canyon walls, “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” A chill passed through his bones as its meaning resonated with his soul.

Evil had stalked him like a dark predator, walking in the shadow of each footstep. The multitude of workload and stress it placed upon his life was nearly to the point of an unbearable burden. Yet, he pushed on; praying for strength, guidance, and wisdom every waking moment. There were times when his foot would slip on the path, and the weight of those shackles would throw him to the ground. Each time he would moan under his breath, gritting his teeth, as he pushed upward, looking for what little ray of hope that flickered through the somber canopy above. Questions clouded his mind as Satan attempted to confuse him, trying to distract him long enough to make him lose his way and give up. When the roar of tumult would overwhelm him, he would pause, bending over and holding his knees as he sought air to breathe, like the fighter pausing between rounds; then he would drag his weary frame back into the fray.

Each time he gained momentum, as if the clouds overhead had parted and a slimmer of light would escape to the forest floor, the darkness would slam him once more, like a mule kicking him in the stomach. Nauseating helplessness would momentarily overwhelm his spirit as he would stumble backward; dazed, confused, and humiliated by what all was said of his inescapable ineptitudes as Satan tried to make him lose courage. The taunts would cut him to the core, as if the prince of darkness knew what mattered most, and would use those words to slice his soul to the very marrow of his existence. As he lay upon the sod, barely breathing, the darkness would leave, feeling accomplished for what it had done. Behind it, the man closed his eyes and prayed in a whispered breath, “God, I need you like never before. If this is the path you want me to take, then show me the way. If this is not, then show me the door to take, for I cannot do this, nor have I ever done this without you.”

As the man’s face looked up from the earth, overhead a fluorescent butterfly lit upon a branch of forest fern nearby. Amongst the deep recess of the darkness, its radiance lifted his spirit momentarily, like the wings of that insect, fluttering upward, then gently floating away. He could feel his on soul rise upon the occasion and a temporary moment of repose warmed his being. He closed his eyes and pressed it into his memory, for it was the only reprieve from the oppression he had known it some time.

The days would turn into months.

Each new month brought the repeated episode of the man being beaten down, again and again, until his health began to deteriorate. It seemed as the darkness was winning. But the man had not lost faith, and in his faith, there was eternal hope; a strength greater than the darkness could compete, for the gates of hell could not prevail against it. Each day, his journey brought him closer to the end, and each day, victory was nearer than before.

Satan knew he had won, but as he watched in earnest, he could not stop the man from continuing to move onward, never stopping, never giving up. He used every means possible to stop his progress, but nothing seemed to dissuade the man from his point of focus. It was if he had another life within that the darkness could not penetrate; a light within.

As the pathway neared the end, the man felt his spirit begin to soar. Each new day, each new breath, the life he once thought had gone was now returning, but unlike ever before; more clear, more vivid, more alive than ever before. It was as if he had died and was born again.

Death had lost its grip, and his victory was with God, through Christ Jesus.

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the edge of the deep wood opened, and there before him lay the vastness of eternity. The glory, in all its splendor, was more than his mind could grasp. Tears filled his eyes as the expanse of beauty flooded through his eyes, warming his soul from without, to within. The marrow of his being had been infused with something greater than any feeling he had previously known, as if an agape love, charity for which no expression could be summoned, touched an inner precept that he had not known until now.

The words flooded his soul like the voices of a thousand waterfalls, whispering a roar into his being, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

The man sat and wept as God welcomed him into the fold, for his heart was now healed.

We may never know the journey someone is on in this life, nor the tribulations through which they are struggling. We can each in our own way be a ray of hope, a brilliant butterfly to their being with nothing more than a smile, a warm welcome, or just simply a kind hello.

Seek to empathize with your neighbor, colleague, or family member. Remember, “. 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.”

Smile, and be patient, for, in the end, hope will guide you.

We may not see the next door, but with hope, and faith, we will know that when it opens, it will be the will of God.

And most importantly,

Thanks be to God.

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What Could Be…

We’ve often heard or used the phrase, “Dead-end job.” Whereby, we are referring to an occupation that has no future; no room for growth or lateral movement. Stairs that lead to nowhere are a lot like that. A normal flight of stairs are meant to take us from one level of a building to the next. This past weekend, after cutting and placing stringers for the Spiritual Retreat in place, and then setting the treads down, I sat at the top of the newly erected staircase and looked out at the vast, empty space that awaited on the second floor. My thoughts reflected back to when I had harvested the trees on this very spot a year ago. The stringers from which the stairs are made came from one of those tall pines, some of which still stand tall nearby. That was just one step of many to get to this point. There have been buckets of sweat, copious amounts of blood, and many a restless night’s sleep due to pain between then and now. For the moment, there is no money for flooring for either the lower or upper levels. The wood that had been cut has mostly been used or will be used on other framing aspects. It does not bother me for I know that in time, He will provide. Therefore, my perch only afforded me a vantage point of “What Could Be.”

Sitting at a desk behind stacks of papers to grade or bent over working on the engine of a car as sweat pours into our eyes stinging our vision, we often find ourselves asking the question, “Is this all there is in life?” Or perhaps another, “Where can we go from here?” Likewise, our spiritual life can come to a similar crossroads. All our lives we have spent laboring to build a comfortable world around us; acquiring material wealth, pleasant homes, fancy cars, all to find in the end, we often need very little of all that we have spent a lifetime to amass. In time of solitude, we are often left in moments of recollection, finding that memories are probably the most cherished possession we own. When we look back, we cannot see where we are going. In reflection, we find ourselves sorrowed in that moment. To look back is to see only where we’ve been, not where we are headed, there is a sense of loss; a passing of time that we cannot recover.

Time; once it is gone, it is gone forever.

However, living in the past can only bring sorrow and regret. To turn around and face the future brings new life, a chance to start over for some. Yes, there is a place for which we all should strive to reach, an obtainable goal that was made possible to each of by the most precious sacrifice ever known to mankind: Jesus Christ. We cannot know the Father until we come to know the Son, Jesus. “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.,” Jesus told his disciples (John 14:6). To gain the glories of heaven, we must first accept Christ into our lives; there is no other way.

Too often, we imagine that we have properly prepared for what is to come. You know the person I’m speaking of, the one who can tell you that they have spent their entire life going to church, they believe they have achieved salvation simply by being in the building, by going through all the rituals necessary; following the letter of the law. When asked further how they know they are going to heaven, you find the wheels begin to fall off their spiritual wagon. Just because you park your vehicle in the garage doesn’t mean it’s a car. Doing deeds or works to obtain heaven is not how we receive His amazing Grace. No, my friend, that is not salvation, that is religion. Religion cannot get you into Heaven, only by the Grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ can you be saved and obtain salvation from your sins. By the water and the Spirit, we are saved, and those who receive Him shall have eternal life.

In Genesis 11, mankind built a city and a tower known as Babel. The people were extremely proud of their accomplishment, so much so, that God came down to observe their amazing feat. What he found was that man had believed himself to become an equal with God. They had literally built what they believed was a stairway to heaven. God immediately realize the error of their ways, “and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” Not only was this a false foundation of achievement, but it was also a structure dedicated to idolatrous worship. The offspring of Noah had once again, as the wicked before the flood, fallen away, taking up the worship of idols, even to the point of dedicating the massive building to a multitude of gods. The peak of the monument was capped with an altar dedicated to the god Bel-Merodach, along with all the signs of the Zodiac.

Many Man-Caves are places men often build in their homes or in outbuildings where they can escape from the world, or as some say, “Get away,” from the rest of the family. Here, they decorate the walls and surroundings with all manner of icons that make them feel happy or comfortable; neon beer signs, sports team logos, and many more images that portray that to which they have become a fan. To become a fan, one must follow a team or sports figure to the point you become “fanatical” about them, hence the term fan. If we look at it from the perspective of the tower of Babel, they have essentially erected their own altar to Bel-Merodach. In essence, their decorations become their worship to other gods as did those in Babel.

Thankfully, the focus of my building, even though someone recently asked if it were to become my Man-Cave, is not of things of this world; rather, it is “What is to come.” As I sat atop the stairs to nowhere, it was apparent that they were only the precursor to, “What will be.” From this point forward, one cannot say what is next other than I know in my heart that from here, my purpose is to serve Him in all that I do. Even in the construction, this mindset has enveloped my every action. Someone asked, “Did you build it all by yourself.” Other than my son and Leroy stopping by occasionally to give me a hand, for the most part, literally the answer would be yes. But in truth, all along, He has been here with me. Even now, as I sit in the twilight hours of day typing by the temporary lights hanging on nails, His Spirit is with me. So, no, truly I’ve never been alone.

The dead-end job for me ended five years ago when I chose to leave everything behind and step into the journey of serving the Lord. That was the first step on the stairway. Since then I have lifted many an often-weary foot upon the next tread. Each time, my view came from a high plane than before.

You must be careful when ascending the flight of stairs. One wrong step can send you tumbling to the bottom or worse, end up in serious harm. Just as physical injury can result from a fall; likewise, if our footsteps in faith are not grounded in the Word of God, we can find ourselves falling away, succumbing to the secular desires of the flesh. It is only with only one sure step at a time that we can advance safely. As my friend Jimmy Clark said today, “God will only give us so much insight, knowledge into the future at a time.” Those footsteps upon the stairwell are very much one in the same.

And you may ask, “Where would that insight, that knowledge come from?”

There is mainly one place that I can direct anyone to answer that question, and that is, “The Bible.” Yes, He may speak to us at times or give us visions, but most assuredly, the most definite place to find guidance from the Father is in the Word of God.

One word at a time.

One step at a time.

Let not your stairway lead to nowhere my friend.

Heaven awaits.

All you have to do is repent of your sins, confess with your mouth, and believe with your heart, and then simply ask, and ye shall receive.

Don’t hesitate.

Tomorrow is too late.

All I can do is share with you how. The rest is up to you and Jesus.

Don’t delay.

My prayer is that everyone who reads this will find Jesus if you have not already done so, and in the end, receive their salvation.

I love you, as the Father hath loved me.

Thanks be to God.

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Living Water…

All around me the soft, gentle foliage blanketed the shoreline of the turbulent river below. The setting sun cast an orange hue into the water, such that the folds of rushing waters against the rocks made a metallic sheen of golden tones. Like ancient Aztec gold flowing down the steps of the might pyramids, the waters below me churned in molten swathes of lava-like folds, one over the other.

For a moment, my thoughts raced back to the tour of the chocolate factory in Hershey Pennsylvania in my youth. Before the trip, I didn’t like chocolate. In fact, I purposely sought food without it, such was my disdain. However, that day we walked through the factory watching swathes of liquid chocolate flow past us in unspeakable volumes, the air became aromatically filled with the rich fragrance of the dark brown substance. By the time you exited the tour, your mind was craving chocolate to the point, you had to taste it now, even if you really didn’t like it before. There, in the massive atrium of the Hershey courtyard, I asked the unspeakable that day, “Yes, please order me a hot fudge Sundae, with chocolate on top.” To this day, it was the freshest, most precious tasting substance I had yet to savor at that point in life. There was nothing that had compared before. All other chocolate had been stale compared to the taste of something this fresh; or at least in my mind’s eye, that was the reasoning at that moment.

As the waters twisted and turned, before me this evening, the sweet taste of chocolate no longer tempted my taste buds. The beauty of that scene was far more savoring than anything that could be eaten. Instead, my eyes drank in the colors which wrapped through the fluid source of life below and brought surreal enlightenment to all the surrounding imagery. It was as if God was beaming through the waters of the John’s River straight into my soul.

Weary from his journey, he came near the parcel of land that Jacob had given Joseph. There, he sat upon the well thus, for his disciples had gone into town to buy meat. It was a very warm, especially since it was nearing noon. It was then that Samarian women came seeking water. Momentarily surprised to find a Jew sitting on the edge of the well, she paused and looked upon the stranger unsure of how to proceed. Jesus, having been looking down at his dirty feet, dusty and tired from the day’s journey, felt her presence and looked up and said, “Give me to drink.”

Startled and confused at the request, she replied, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have nothing to do with the Samaritans.”

He repeated himself again, saying, “Give me to drink, woman.”

Perplexed, she only stood, again unsure how to respond. Jesus then continued, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.”

 The woman then saith unto him, “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?”

Jesus did not hesitate but answered and said unto her, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

The woman, now feeling the Holy Spirit coming unto her, saith unto him, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.”

As I sat watching the turbid waters boil, the essence of his living water rose in my heart. There must have been no greater joy in this world than to hear Christ Jesus stand before you and tell you, face to face, “The water that I shall give you will be like a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”

Then, as now, although we cannot draw these mighty forces of fluidness with a mere bucket, they can be as powerful as those waters that Elisha caused to raise the axe head from below its depths. As his servant had been working cutting the wood as we are told in 2 Kings 6:5, the head of the axe had sheared, causing the valuable metal end to fly into the midst of the river. Fearing the wrath of the man from whom he borrowed the tool, he immediately begged Elisha to help. The prophet walked calmly to the water’s edge. There, he stooped over and picked up a simple stick and began to turn it into the clear spring below. Before their eyes, the waters began to boil, and within a minute, the axe head was floating before them, raised from its watery grave, to once again be present before their very eyes. Pulled from the midst of the lost to the saved, the servant was overjoyed to have the valuable piece of equipment returned.

Like the lost Samarian woman, she too had been like the axe head, lost in a watery grave, forever toiling to return from the well with yet another bucket to provide sustenance for her family; yet, it was never enough. It could never satisfy their cravings. Without help from something beyond this world, she would forever be looking for that which she could not find. Yet, why would this Jew help her, a Samaritan, for they had no dealings with her kind?

That night, as I slept, there came to me in a dream, the same scene of the river.

However, as I was watching myself from a distance, I could see myself paddling down the stream, away from where I sat, in the direction that it became narrower and narrower. With time, the world around the river became more developed. By the end of the vision, the entire landscape had been replaced with concrete barriers, stone walls, and all manner of man-made edifices. Gone were the pure, natural settings that God had created. In their place, man had made the world in his image; to his desires. The only remnant left of what was before, was the simple stream, still flowing, still reflecting the golden skyline of the setting sun.

In that image, I paddled away from where my vision was fixed, slowly fading away toward the sunset in the tiny canal of water. Sadly, this was all that was left of the beautiful scene upon which I had sat earlier. The water, having seemed to be the most bold and metallic substance before me, now had become the softest, must subtle of all images within the dark world. The water reflecting the sun was the only light to the otherwise sullen, sinful gray landscape. What once seemed powerful and mighty, now seemed silken and serene; a precious commodity.

All that had been was now gone, and all there was of hope, was the tiny thread of light.

Buoyed by the thread, one, who was filled from within by its essence, kept afloat and continued his search to help those that could still be saved.

To the ends of the earth we should go to find them, and when we do, give them Him to drink.

Drink of the living water and yea shall never thirst no more.

He is the water of life, and in Him, you shall be saved.

In all these things we do, we do for Him.

Thanks be to God.

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