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The Path of Doubt

Ergos found himself standing at a point in the trail, and at a time, when the light of day was quickly retreating behind the mountain.  There was an urgency to press forward, but a fear of the unknown not being in control of his situation caused him to pause.  He knew from the map that his destination was somewhere ahead, but in the back of his mind, as if something that was to be kept at bay, returned the urge to go back the way he had come.  Under his breath, he prayed to God to help him find his way.  But those divine requests had no more left his lips when, in just a few more steps forward, he stopped and turned around.  Doubts began to flood his mind.  “What would those whom he told God had called him say?  Would he become a joke, a horrible representation of what happens when you become a Jesus freak?  Giving up would be saying that what he thought was his calling was a misunderstanding.  Would this diminish his faith?” Like a torrential cold rain, the thoughts kept flowing until, at last, Ergos gave into that suffocating desire to allow his known path to lure him back.

As he regretfully began to retrace his steps, he quickly became aware of a phenomenon he had not anticipated – the pathway started to close in as if the forest was supernaturally reclaiming his only course of retreat.  Ergos pushed into the oppressive briars and brambles until it became apparent that this was no longer sustainable, and gave up.  He now had no choice but to turn around once more and endure the daunting prospect of entering that dreaded unknown.  As his footsteps led him forward, the intimidating darkness shrouding his pathway found a friend in his realization that there was no going back.  The doors he thought would remain open, his safety net, were now closed, no longer accessible.  When he chose to embark upon this journey, he had never thought he would ever consider giving up, although its prospect was like an arrow in his quiver, there if needed but kept in reserve just in case, but it was now gone, removed against his will.

Suddenly, a greater resolve struck his heart.  That calling that had been there from the beginning returned, the voice now louder than ever before, “Why do you doubt when you know that I will take care of you if you would only give all of yourself to me.” He paused, hands on his hips gathering himself.  As he did, Ergos felt a momentary tingling pulsate from the bottom of his boots, slowing growing like that of a wave washing over the shore until it reached the top of his head.  The sensation of a mighty hand enveloping his being came over him, cradling him in the safety of its palm.  Ergos didn’t believe that faith in the Holy Spirit required something physical, yet there it was, that undeniable sensation of something comforting him.  Then, he realized a change in the forest around him.  The gray darkness began to change as the light began to flow from another source.  His eyes followed the transition from the tip of his boots going forward finding a gentle glow illuminating the pathway ahead as the moon was rising just below the edge of the dark mountain above.  Like a strand of silver ribbon, the way forward beckoned as the hope in a dark world.

No matter the outcome of what the future held, from that moment forward, Ergos never looked back.  In his heart, he knew that God was with him and that through every trial and hardship, no matter how bleak the night became, his Father in Heaven would be there with him.

And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” – John 10:28-29

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Adrift at Sea

You never know what you will see or hear on campus. As I made my way to the car to drive home, several groups of high-school students made their way to the dining hall. The season of summer camps had begun. Each group, some the first time away from home, clung to their companionships like a drowning man to a remnant of wood that once was the ship from which they had been cast. Afloat now in a vast ocean of unknowns, their only hope was the meager breadth of wood to which they clung – those few people that had traveled with them from their beginning. It is no wonder that as they converse and carry on, they must adhere to something which gives them strength of spirit, an inner encouragement.

So, it was no surprise to hear a small group of young men repeating a saying that would repeat itself ad nauseam if said correctly. Now, I don’t keep up with the latest memes or gaming nuances – they themselves never end. Yet, whatever they were repeating was entertaining enough, and garnering them enough attention, that they loudly spoke as if orating a masterpiece of knowledge.

Passing by and hearing them made me wonder something, which in a sense, was a judgment but not one of intent. Instead, it made my heart sad that such brilliant minds might otherwise have memorized something which the world needed – something which contained a thought or phrase which, if spoken to the passerby, might give them a sense of hope. Yes, what if they had memorized a scripture long enough to challenge their mental faculties yet, spoke a message to the world that as they walked, they professed their belief in God? What if they merely quoted the twenty-third Psalm? Would those whom they randomly encountered be blessed all the more?

As their voices faded into the hum of the campus life, a butterfly drifted past me, landing on a flower, one amongst the many in the landscaped bed. How precious, yet, blessed was the sight, so much so that it caused me to stop and think. Did not those young voices mesmerized by their own abilities not give one a sense of hope. Like that butterfly finding that one flower amongst so many, could not one person reach one in that group, and through that one individual reach the others, giving them something to cling to? Like that piece of driftwood lost at sea, they could find something that would not only keep them afloat but save their life as well. For if one person speaking to one of them, could it not change the minds of more? If they can memorize that useless phrase, what if they someday met someone that gave them a different, uplifting passage that would not only allow them to show off their mental status but, more importantly, give light to the world about them? Have I not encountered the very thing Jesus espoused to his followers, “The fields are white ready to harvest, but the laborers are few?”

Think about those before you today, and speak as if God has given you a platform to share His message, not one of inane repetitiveness, but of truth and light. Be not of this world, but rather, seek Him first, and all else will fall into place.

Thanks be to God.

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A Cold Mountain River

by Timothy W. Tron

It was late September in the highlands. We were camping on the banks of the Johns River. While the leaves had yet to fully change, there were the tale-tale signs of imminent transformation on the horizon. As my feet slid underneath the surface of the cold mountain water, a formidable repercussion burst through my soul. Deeper I waded in until it was a matter of now or never; an immediate submersion momentarily took my breath away. It was my evening bath in the John’s river, yet another first in my life.

Johns River, Collettsville, NC. – photo by Timothy W. Tron

As the due course of washing ensued, the greatly diminished bar of soap I was using slipped from my fingertips and into the brink below. In an instance, there was a fear that gripped my heart. “Oh no, now I won’t be able to get clean,” were the thoughts that raced in my head. “Does it float,” came the question? Before the unspoken whisper was even done, the tiny little bar popped back up. Quickly, my hand scooped it up and cradled it carefully. “No more losing you,” I mused at the careless soap. Looking down the course of the waterway to where that tiny sliver of could have traveled, a shimmering image caught my eye. The rapids below me sparkled in the setting sun. A thousand diamonds reflected the vast spectrum of light back towards me and a radiance illuminated the bend in the river about me. It was as if the Lord had suddenly appeared. The thought of that momentary fear of losing the bar of soap returned and how it made me think of what it might feel like to lose one’s Bible, or even worse, God. For me, in that instance of time, it would have meant that I would be unable to physically cleanse my body. But like the Word, it helps us to cleanse our soul. Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, our sins were literally washed away. Like that grime from my flesh, it was purged clean and taken away with the never ending current. Suddenly, standing as I stood in an indescribable realm of illuminated river, a revelation began to form in my being.

By this time, my body had nearly lost feeling. My head fully lathered, I dipped beneath the surface once more. The frigid waters rushed around me and all sound ceased from the surface. There was nothing more than the sound of gurgling flow pulsating past my being. A faint heartbeat sounded in the distant, like a bodhran keeping time to a Celtic song, ancient tomes for which the voices had long since faded into obscurity. My mind flashed to that of the river Jordan and the Apostle John standing over Jesus, who at the moment was also beneath the surface. As Christ looked upward from beneath the cleansing waters of Baptism, he could see the heavens open and the Spirit of the Lord descending. At that moment, John lifted him up. The cold water fell away from his body, his face flush with the exertion of that same shock, now beaming as the multitude of God’s love imbued his being. John saw it appear above Christ’s head, and it slowly fluttered until it appeared to light upon the crown of his head, like a dove descending from heaven.

Likewise, as I rose from beneath the veil of frigid flow, the sky opened above me to a clearness that seemed to take away one’s breath. The feeling of a newness unlike before overwhelmed my soul. Though my body was immersed in the freezing mountain waters, my soul was enveloped in an indescribable comforting warmth.

Through that momentary elation, the question returned, “How sorrowful would it be to have known God, and then to lose Him?” Simply asking the question to myself made me appreciate what I had all the more. One who has never known the love of God cannot comprehend what it is to imagine losing him. Like that inanimate bar of soap, while it is easily replaced, how unlike it is to the spirit within us. Once we receive Christ into our lives, there is a newness of living. Like emerging from those frozen depths of the mountain river, we are torn free from those previous fleshly burdens. We are given the greatest gift of all; freedom from sin. We are washed clean by the proverbial, never-ending bar of soap; the blood Jesus shed for all mankind on the cross.

Still yet, the profound symbolism of losing that bar for but a second, and the feeling of that lost translated into miniscule slice of what it might be like to lose one’s faith. So too, we who believe, would find ourselves in a despair unrivaled with any known heretofore if we were to knowingly lose our faith – to have it torn asunder like a child from a mother’s bosom. There could be no greater loss of hope, freedom, and truth. Yet, throughout history, people have been tortured because of their faith, and many times told to escape the torture or death, that they must abjure their faith – to give it up. Many died for this faith. Untold numbers were tortured through some of the most unimaginable gruesome deaths. Yet, there were a few that gave in. Sadly, their torture would have been less to have died, for the remainder of their lives, they would be haunted in a life of anguish knowing that they had turned their backs on the one thing that gave them hope, gave them life eternal – their faith.

We are living in some of the most distressing times in our country. While we are facing a growing evil, there is and always will be hope. It is now that we, those who are called, must boldly wade into that torrent of bone-chilling water of life and reach out to those who drowning in the depths of despair and heartache. Like the bar of soap, they are tossed about, unable save themselves. Without a hand to reach out and lift it up, it would have certainly been taken away downstream. Likewise, without God, we too are lost. But we can be the lifeline through which the giver of eternal life can reach them. As the gospel hymn goes, “When my Savior reached down for me, I was lost and undone without God or His Son. When He reached down His hand for me. [1]

You may not be able to immediately see those who need your help. But stay the course, and continue to walk in the light. In time, they will come to you, or their presence will be made known. It is then, that you can save them from falling beneath the rushing waters of this world’s darkness and lift them up. You were made for a time such as this. “The fields are white ready to harvest,” Jesus told his disciples. “One reapeth and another soweth, I sent yea to reap wherein yea bestowed no labor. Others labored and yea entered into their labors.”[2]

There will always be a Comforter there by our side. Step into the water, and the Lord will take you the rest of the way.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Source: Musixmatch, Songwriters: G. E. E. Wright, When He Reached Down lyrics © Bridge Building Music

[2] John 4:35 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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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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Finding the Light…

Subdued tones of gray, black and white surround us today as we walked in the woods.20160124_133944~2

Snow blanketed the quiet world around our pathway creating shapes and images that haunted your vision and questioned your motives.

My life takes on a similar quality as the work turns inward. My research into the antiquity of truth, the search for connections in time that have been obscured by men’s aspiration for their own truth, often foregoing the sanctity of their positions in order to gain an edge over their perceived adversary, only failing those who will follow centuries later. Some divisions are over such seemingly minor articles that from a distance they seem harmless, yet beneath the surface lurks a dark force that seeks to destroy all that surfaces toward the light.

There is but one Truth, the Word of God.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light,” echoes Paul in his letter to Ephesians.

The distractions of everyday life can cause us to falter, lose our way and be swayed away from the truth, the light.

As we learned in Art Appreciation 101 during my days in the pursuit of becoming a Commercial Artist, the color black was the absorption of all light such that nothing could escape; the emptiness of color so to speak. White, on the other hand, was the reflection of all colors. Stage lighting professionals know that the brilliant white light used in theater productions is the result of multiple colors shining at once on the same object.

Light, in another sense, is everything coming at you at once. Thus, in the gospels, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. The Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things made were made through Him. In Him was the life and the life was the light of man. The light shone in the darkness but the darkness comprehendeth it not.”

The light was God in the flesh, everything coming at us at one time. It was so incomprehensible that our meager minds could not handle it at one time. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, not in these exact words, “If man could but understand an iota of what God knew, our heads would explode.”

Imagine Jesus walking up to you and asking you to throw down your net, your hammer, your laptop and follow him. Could you? Would you?

It should be no surprise that even though we may share the gospel with the world around us, many cannot fathom the meaning of the Word, nor feel the presence of the Holy Spirit when it comes upon them. Their world is bleak and filled with shadowy objects; demons lurk behind every turn waiting to destroy the shallow world they have built their lives upon. Each day they struggle to make meaning of why they crawl out of bed to face the world. Each day, they walk without Christ, they become more lost in the darkness, lost in the woods of life.

Today as we followed the trail of brilliant white all around us, the glory of the Father shone brightly and we rejoiced, for we know that He is within as well as without. Our shadows are only because of the light that shines before us, allowing us to see the obstacles in our path before we hit them head on. Without our guiding light, we would become lost and stumble.

This week, find a way to become the spark to light the way for someone in your path. Share the Word of God and become the lamp unto thy feet, sharing the multitude of all that is, and just maybe, just maybe one more soul may find the light within, saved by His grace.

Go ahead, light that match.

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