Tag Archives: spiritual retreat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks be to God.


[1] 2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational

Journal Update

(December 30th, 2020)

The time passes one plank after another. The labor of love seems to never end, but then in the latter’s sense, it is not labor, for the work toward the Lord is a passion to which the heart gives in wholly; unabated. One must pause and look upon what has been done to fulfill the blessing within.

Shadows were glancing through the barren limbs of the forest, chasing the sun that barely rises above the horizon. The warmth of the fire reminded us that to remove the chills upon one’s back, you must subsequently afford that portion toward the flame. As one finds a void in their spirit, they too must find from whence its vacancy can be refilled, warmed anew as by the hearth. From the depths of God’s word, those empty voids can be rejuvenated – filling the soul so that the spirit may become refreshed.

This morning, the taste of manna from heaven ever more sweeten the taste upon my soul as my eyes read through familiar texts. Like an old friend, they reach out to me and speak to me in a calming voice. Their refrain falls upon my ears like the warmth of that welcoming woodstove or the taste of that slice of fresh bread from the oven. Each, although soothing the shortcomings of the fleshly needs of this world, bemoan the spirit within. Finding God in these moments, sensing his presence through those temporal moments, can relay us into the eternal glimpses that await in our next life, should we choose in this life wisely.

Being alone, the majority of the time while working on the Spiritual Retreat has become the norm. Yesterday, however, was different. My son joined me, and we worked together – something that was not too common. Like my own solitude, our duo worked without interruption from the outside. As if we were on our own island, we toiled together regardless of what the world was mesmerizing over at the moment. There in our little neck of the Blueridge mountains, we had no Covid, there were no threats of lockdown, there was no endless noise of fear-mongering from the media, there were just us two, working in unison as God allowed. Outdoor, the creek gurgled underneath a golden sky.

For all its worth, we were none the worse for wear. Well, mostly.

There were still drawbacks that could not be avoided.

My physical body has more than once found its limitations. Pushing through the pain is one thing, but when one’s back becomes so weary that it is difficult to stand, let alone function, something has to give. You either stop and wait to recover or find a way to struggle onward. Nearly always, the answer is the latter.

Multiple times the pain had to be subdued with ibuprofen in order to push onward – the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Although there are the earthly inhibiting factors, the beauty to which the work has revealed is a testimony unto our Savior. It is through us that his hands worketh. No task has not been managed that God has not provided – albeit in strength, knowledge, or skill. All have been a confirmation of what the LORD can do through us in spite of ourselves when we are one with him. As he asked us to drink of his blood, that he would be in us, and us in him, so it is, that when we fully commit ourselves unto his lifeblood, we too will be like the bride with the bridegroom – uniting as one. “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”[1]

Last night, as my battered, scarred, and beleaguered hands typed these passages, there was a certain feeling of contentment that flowed. While sleep beckoned, these were just a few of the thoughts from which must be scribed so that if one looks back from the future, they will see only a small portion of what a day in the life of this person might have revealed.

So, with heavy eyes, I read over the Gospel of John, visiting my old friend one last time before I say my prayers and finally lay down to rest.

Before sleep overcame me, the last thoughts were, “If I die before I wake, may the Lord my soul to take.”

Thanks be to God.


[1] John 6:53-54 KJV

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Gift in Swaddling Clothes

This evening, Christmas Eve to be exact, the fire in the hearth hisses and crackles at me. The warmth soothes my weary bones, like the stones upon which the firelight flickers against, warming them, bringing them back to life. Late this afternoon I took a break from wiring the Retreat and took a much overdue walk. It was an early Christmas gift to myself, you might say.

The sky was a perfect Carolina blue with the sunlight filtering through the barren branches of the forest. My body felt sluggish, not something I had remembered in recent times. From the recent medical prognosis, it was apparent that I would never be as fast or as strong as I once was physically. Those sub-five-minute miles will only be a memory from now on (unless, of course, I’m driving in a car). In fact, as the saying goes, “I’ll never be as good as I once was.” It wasn’t quite the gift I had expected. As my weary legs finally carried me back to the Retreat, I was thankful just to have been able to walk along the whispering creeks and waterfalls.

The family was still gone on some last-minute Christmas Eve errands. So many spent the recent days hurrying and fretting over preparations for the perfect day when family and friends will fill their homes. I was thankful to be free of that burden and able to relax for a change. Back inside my little cabin in the woods, I stoked the fire back to a roar and sat back sipping on a hot brew As the burgeoning flames cracked and popped, my mind pondered the recent scripture that would not leave my head; from the book of Luke. It is probably the most quoted gospel this time of year.

From the point when Mary has received the direction of the Arch Angel Gabriel, to the immaculate conception, there is a story within itself. “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.[1] Like the spark that lights the fire, the hand of God came upon Mary, and in that instant, the being of God in the form of human flesh began to develop in her fetus. The “Most High” overshadowed her. The Greek word for “overshadow” is comprised of two words, which basically describe a cloud of energy that enveloped Mary, at which point, Christ was literally conceived. To understand in our simple humanness is more than a struggle. Yet, the indescribable doesn’t stop there.

Later, when Mary and Joseph reach Bethlehem, as it was foretold, Jesus would be born in a lowly manger, a trough from which animals eat. Remember the prodigal son and how it was described that he fell so far that he literally ate out of the same troughs as the pigs which he tended. Our Lord and Savior was born in such a condition, in a feeding trough. And when Mary had wrapped him in swaddling clothes, rags if you will, he was ready to receive the many guests that would soon arrive.

Unbeknownst to Mary and Joseph, out in the neighboring fields of Bethlehem, shepherds were standing watch over their flocks at night, when another Angel came to them. Now before I jump into the scripture that you have probably heard a thousand times, allow me to precede it with something that you may have never thought of before.

As I have already alluded, this was not just a common birth. This was literally God being born for the first time ever, in the form of human flesh. It was a sentinel moment in the history of God. This was a moment in eternity in which the significance, although entirely missed by the spiritual leaders of the time, would so impact the entirety of Glory above that it would be as if all of heaven’s Angels, for a moment, would stop everything and come to earth to attend the birth of a Savior, the son of God. For the first time in all of creation, God was coming to earth, to be born of a lowly handmaiden, in a stable. Had those Pharisees and Jewish leaders understood the prophecies of which they supposedly had learned so well, they too could have joined the unimaginable moment with all of creation, but they would not. They would be lost to the moment and forever because of their unbelief. What they would miss would be the gift of a lifetime, of an eternity. God would come to earth to live and die like one of his own creation’s so that he would feel our pain, know our suffering so that when he would eventually defeat death, and his blood would flow freely down the cross, we would know that God had given us the most precious gift mankind would ever know; His Son.

Now, reread the scripture with that picture in your mind, “And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.”[2]

Notice how the shepherds feared the initial Angel and how it comforted them until they were somewhat at ease. It was then, once they had been calmed that the enumerable multitude of Heavenly hosts appeared before them. So great was the light that it could be seen beyond the local pastures of Bethlehem. Luke would later recall, in separate writings, how many philosophers, scientists, and spiritual leaders would recall seeing the bright light in the sky and how each of them would separately interpret the scene. Imagine the lowly shepherds, uneducated, poor, and of simple faith, and how their hearts might have stopped but for a moment in awe at the sight before them; the heavens filled with Angels on high. The angelic illumination was so bright that the mere mortal shepherds would have nearly been blinded, without and within. They literally had been moved beyond belief as can be seen by the following passage.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.”[3]

These men, who were in charge of other men’s flock, left their post and ran into town. The mere fact that they abandoned their livelihood to seek out the babe in swaddling clothes would tell you of their sheer panic. Adrenaline rushing through their veins, they sought the length of the city for the child.  They didn’t stop until they found him. When they finally reached the stable, covered in sweat, breathing heavily, they hesitantly entered, knowing that this was no normal child for which they were to admire. There before them, glowing underneath the watchful eye of his mother, was the babe of whom the Angel had spoken. Mary had instinctively picked up her baby to protect him when this mass of strangers began to enter the stables. But to her disbelief, they now fell at her feet and began to worship her child. They would eventually share with her and Joseph the reason for the worship and awe of the infant child. From there, the shepherds would not stop. They would leave the stable and go far and wide sharing their story. Eventually, they would return and share with her the wonderful reactions and praises for which the Christ child had heralded. Mary’s head had to be spinning at all that had transpired in just a matter of months. She had gone from a simple peasant to the mother of the Son of God. She had to be dreaming, she might have told herself more than once. And as you can imagine, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.[4]


Luke’s interview with Mary and her recanting this story, as it was likely shared with her many times by those exact shepherds, so impacted Luke, a physician, that he kept it just as it was told to him. In fact, all of the story, from the immaculate conception to the birth is recounted through the eyes of this glorious and wonderful physician, as he was known in his time. That being said, you can now perhaps better understand the significance of the timeline for which these events took place. Perhaps, even more, that you may think about this precious gift we all have been given, even now, as the realm for which God gave his only begotten Son so that any who should believe shall be saved.

Tomorrow, if not already, you will hopefully have family and friends over to open gifts and to celebrate Christmas. When the wrapping paper is finally collected, and everyone has had time to contemplate their gifts, both given and received, some may take time to reflect upon the reason behind the most significant holiday on our calendar, at least to most people. If allowed, ask them to listen for a moment, and share with them something special. Share with them the greatest story ever told.

In life, we reach a point when we only reduce our biological stability, perhaps maintaining for a while, but eventually, we will slow a few more steps, rise a bit slower, and recall even less. Yet, through it all, we should be thankful in our daily walk, no matter the struggles, and remember that we have been given the most precious gift known to man. Nearly 2000 years ago, a present was wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger, not under a tree. Those who were there to receive did not need to unwrap their gift to know its importance.

Tomorrow, pause for a moment and give thanks to God above for the greatest gift of all.

Thanks be to God.


[1] Luke 1:35

[2] Luke 2:8-15

[3] Luke 2:16-18

[4] Luke 2:19

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

No Retreat…

“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.”-Luke 14:27-30

When I read this scripture, I often think of the old cliché, “Don’t change horses in mid-stream,” meaning don’t change your mind in the middle of an event or process that has already begun.

In this passage of scripture, recorded by Luke, Jesus is explaining to the crowds that desire to follow him, that unless they give their whole heart, mind, and spirit to him, they cannot truly be one of his disciples. In other words, “you have to be ALL in or nothing at all.” Once you commit, you cannot turn back. Doing so can only be detrimental to yourself, but to those around you as well.

As my own life’s journey and construction of the Spiritual Retreat continue, this scripture really struck a chord with my heart.

First, this journey began with a commitment to follow Christ. It wasn’t a decision that was taken lightly, nor undertaken half-heartedly. It began with a 100% vow to boldly follow wherever the Lord shall lead. That pledge has taken not only me but my family as well, along this path upon which would have never imagined.

There is no turning back.

Even as this is written, we continue to unpack from a move that began five years ago. We are literally still in transition. But even as this is written, the pathway is changing. The future is as unclear as it was in the first few days of that fateful decision. The difference is that now, after those arduous five years, we have seen the power of God working in our daily lives, answering prayer, and working miracles. Yes, in the deepest valleys, He is with us. On the highest mountain tops, He is with us. No matter how far we run, no matter how far we roam, our Lord and Savior is with us, he will never leave nor forsake us. There is comfort in the knowing, for as we face an unknown future, we can take solace in knowing that we are not alone.

As with the continued construction of the Spiritual Retreat, the path has altered somewhat. There had never been a bank account full of money from which to draw to pay for the materials for which it was to be built. Although it was thought out, as far as rough floor plans, the financial side was lifted up to the Lord to provide. And as such, each step of the way, He has provided. Like the parable for which Jesus was describing, a man does not set out to start a project unless he knows he has the means for which it is to be funded, lest he be mocked by his neighbors. Although the literal meaning could apply in my own case, it was with a purposeful choice that we began knowing that in faith, the funds would come. And in faith, the project has only been slowed, not by lacking the means to pay for the building supplies, but rather because of either illness or other commitments which took precedence at the time. In other words, the providential funds of faith have provided all that we have needed.

Like the choice to serve, and like the decision to begin construction without financial backing, each took a level of faith not easily obtained. Through observation of others on their journey, we might feel uncomfortable with taking on that level of commitment. It is only natural. You should never take the leap of faith unless you are willing to suffer for Christ’s sake. It is never easy, nor should it be.

Christ died for our sins.

Let me say that again, Christ DIED for our sins. He suffered a death none of us could nor would want to imagine. He even forewarned that his followers would suffer likewise, because, “If they hate me, they will hate you as well,” he told his disciples.

As the disciples followed Jesus, he took a band of men with backgrounds as diverse and opposed as any could imagine. Along the way, he changed who they were and taught them a new way to believe. Their minds were opened to an understanding never heard before. Men that had never been able to read were now recording his teachings. As this metamorphosis took place, they became the future bearers of Christ. In so doing, their attention had to be laser-focused, and pinpoint sharp as any modern-day recording device. Yet, they lived in a world of parchment and crude writing implements. One might imagine at the end of a day, they would stop and recap what all had taken place.

Visualize this one day happened to be the day in which the woman, who had sought many physicians, and yet after 18 years, had never been healed. Then, when she had heard that Jesus was to come to her town, she did, like so many others, found her way to a place that might afford her a chance to speak to him, or if nothing else, just to see him pass by. As it happened, she reached out and touched the hem of his garment. At that moment, she was healed.

She had to reach out and touch him, just as we must ask Him to come into our lives. The opening comment about changing horses in mid-stream is a comment made about what happens once you have received Christ and are now ready to act upon whatever calling He has given you. Once you have been saved by grace, your life will change. To fully receive Him is to no longer seek the old ways, but rather, the new.

Yes, the woman touching his garment and being healed spoke volumes as to who Jesus actually was; God and man. As Jesus shared this with his disciples that evening, imagine now, if you will, that the multitude that had been gathered had more than once touched his garment. We are only familiar with the one story, but think of the comment at the end of the gospel of John, where he says, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” What if there had been numerous healings? What if after the first story, your hand is now starting to get numb. You can no longer keep up as he continues to tell you moment upon moment of people touching his garment that singular day and the testimonies behind each healing. How blown would your mind be at that point? Your head would be spinning as the untold amount of disbelief mixed with faith rattled around in your brain until your head felt as if it might explode.

There could be no distractions. There could be no turning back. You would literally have to hate your old life and be immersed in your walk with Christ to handle the brutal commitment to serve.

There was no lukewarm faith allowed.

You were either all in or nothing.

No retreat, no surrender.

Like each choice, both require an oath of servitude that cannot be stopped once it is started. To stop in the middle can not only be disastrous financially, but it can also be morally repugnant. How many times have you heard of a preacher or pastor quitting the ministry or falling from grace, and at the same time, felt your heart sink knowing that another soldier for Christ as fallen? Not only can it be a demeaning choice, to turn back, but it can affect others as well. Like those other little boats on the Sea of Galilee, all watched as the boat that Jesus was on was being tossed in the storm. What if Jesus’ boat had turned back? What if he never caused the raging seas to cease? How much less would the scriptures had been impacted?

As I already stated, my future is unclear. While one door closes, somewhere God is opening another door. Like that choice to start laying the foundation for the Spiritual Retreat, so is that foundation of the future being poured. While I cannot see the door, nor what path it is He has chosen, I can trust that like those funds that have found their way into our lives to continue the Retreat’s own construction; likewise, so will He provide for us in the future.

As many have asked, “Can I pray for you to find a job?”

“No,” is my response, “for J O B is a book in the Bible.”

Then I humbly reply, “Rather, please pray that God brings me to a door where I may serve Him fully.”

In the end, faith is not only the substance of things hoped for, but there is actual evidence in things unseen from which we can trust. These foundations of faith continue to build, one upon the other as we grow closer to Christ. We may have questions. We may have doubts. These are our natural tendencies. When we trust in Him, these quickly fade away as we remind ourselves of how those stories in the Bible, of blind faith being rewarded, have come true in our own lives. We may not have the funds to continue the path, but if it is the door through which God has chosen, in the end, we shall find that God will provide.

Never make a choice in faith-based upon what is seen, for if it is truly a God-given path, He will provide.

So remember, don’t change your horse in the middle of the stream, keep the faith.

Accept Christ into your life, and the journey will have just begun.

Thanks be to God.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational, Religion

Let the Cool Winds Blow

The wild turkeys met me on my walk down to the Retreat this evening. Trying not to disturb them to the point of flight, I slowed my pace and gave them plenty of time to meander up the opposite side of the holler from where I stood. Their darks back glistened in the warmth of the overly warm October evening. The sunlight was merely filtering through the shadowy wood. They reminded me of my Angus cattle standing in the July sun, their backs gleaming as healthy, shiny black. “Your cattle are mighty fat and slick,” Uncle John would say, enduring me with one of the kindest compliments anyone had ever said or noticed about my farming. Like the vestiges of beings from another place and time, the flock ascended out of sight; slowly, stealthily. Not one of them called out. Silently, like soldiers retreating to safety away from a larger enemy force. Once they had passed, I continued the descent down to the site of many days of toil this past summer. At times, the shade made the sweltering days bearable, but just barely. Back then, it was July. It was supposed to be hot.

This evening, all but a hint of coolness yet escaped these early fall days. The elders speak of frost has usually come by the tenth, but at this point, there will be doubtful anything close to that this coming week. The streams and river seem to bemoan the fact that autumn has stayed away; an extended vacation from us that we all wish she would end. Leaves, wanting to show their true colors, yet cling to the production of chlorophyll, gasping for a break, their edges turning brown for want of rest.

From within, there beckons a break from the sultry weather. My soul seeks the chill of the brisk morning air; yet, there is none to be had. My physical body thirsts but cannot be quenched.

Thirsty, I turn to the only well from which a soul can find sustenance; the Word.

In my search for something to quench my thirst, He spoke to me before the sunrise this morning. “Prepare,” were His words. Opening the pages to my Bible, I turned first to Luke 12:12, “For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”

“Okay,” I thought, “that’s not far from what I almost always ask before standing in front of a room full of High School students.” Not giving it too much thought, I set out on my weekly walk to church. The sky was overcast, and the air was still. The thermometer on the porch read 72 degrees. “Arrgh,” I moaned to myself, “when will it end?”

Not long after, when I arrived at the General Store, Scott was just finishing opening. “I thought Jennifer was working today,” I asked. He smiled, then looked at the calendar, “Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be off today.” Then he laughed and turned back, “I’m leaving as soon as she gets here,” he smiled. We talked a bit more about how she was doing. She had asked that I lift her up in prayer a few weeks ago, so it was with concern for her that we spoke. Not long after, she came in. Her foot still in the boot. She had broken it a about a week or so ago. Scott was about to leave and said, “It shouldn’t be busy today,”

“Oh great,” she replied, “you just jinxed me.”

My mind flew back to the nights in Emergency Recovery, and how we would fear the onslaught of calls if anyone would use the “Q” word, we called it. “Quiet,” of course was what we were referring too since it never failed if someone said it, we would be overwhelmed with outages the remainder of the evening. After she finished getting settled in, I shared with her the reminiscence of that statement. And then she asked the question, “What made you leave your engineering career behind.”

It was then as if God had opened up the opportunity to share my testimony, I began to tell her the story of how I had answered the call to serve. Being mindful as we talked, to watch for customers, step after step was revealed. Each turn of events I kept reminding her, that God was in it. Each new twist had God’s purpose in mind. By the time I had caught her up to the present, the first customer finally appeared. Call it God’s timing, call it divine intervention, I left Jennifer this morning with my usual, “Have a Blessed day,” as she answered back, “You too,” as she attended to the needs of another customer.

As I sat down at the picnic table to study my scripture before departing off on the rest of my walk to church, the thought came to me, “The next time you speak at a church, you should share your testimony instead of telling about the history of your people.

But then, the next verse came, 1 Timothy, chapter 1, “Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.”

It was as if God had set me down into the well, as my head began to swim with a new perception of what could be said, should the opportunity present itself someday. “You should use this verse to clarify the fact that what you share about your ancient Waldensian ancestors is not to be the focus; the genealogy of your people,” He said. “Rather, you should direct their attention to how these people were used as an instrument of God. Because of them, the way, truth, and the light are here with you today.”

Of course,” my thoughts echoed.

Because of their dedication and faith, the Ancient Waldensian people were able to preserve the Word of God. Their impact made it possible such that even today, miracles can be made manifest when we seek the only source of water that can quench the unquenchable thirst, the Word of God. Although we certainly appreciate their martyrdom, we should not allow it to hinder our real intent. Through the blood of countless martyrs over centuries that would turn into a millennium, their memorization, faith, and dedication became the signature of who they were. They themselves would come to plant the seeds of the Reformation through the blood of their own sacrifice. Like the early Apostles, they realized that they too had to spread the gospel. In the end, it’s not about the endless genealogies, rather, it is about the edification of faith in Jesus Christ that we want to receive. His word is the vessel through which we can be endued with the Holy Spirit. This precious gift, this Comforter which He hath sent, is with us even now, if only we would embrace Him and open the cover from which his word is bound. For some, it is within; memorized for safe keeping in the heart. While others have never had a Bible to read. Our eternal life rests upon our realization that through this precious word, we can understand what it is, and what must be done to receive eternal life. We cannot bring someone to Christ, but rather, through our witnessing, through our actions, and through our sharing of His Word, we can bring to fruition what He started so long ago. Jesus told his disciples, “My meat is to do the will of the Father,” and so it should be with each of us who calls him or herself a Christian.

I know not when, or where my next destiny shall be to stand before others to share the gospels. In some manner of speaking, I still do not know what will be said, but I know without a doubt, at that time, he will provide me with the words with which to speak.

The well of water will rise from within, and with it, the thirst of many shall hopefully be quenched. Salvation is our only key to eternal life, and through the blood of Christ, we have that hope.

Let not the heat of the season deter us from continuing in our quest to save those who are lost. We have one life to live. Let us not live it in vain.

When a brother or sister receives that gift of life, salvation through Jesus, it is as if the Holy Spirit will become a cool breeze unto our soul. Once more we can breathe deeply that refreshing, satisfying water of life.

Let the cool winds blow Lord, let them blow once more.

Thanks be to God.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational

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.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational, Religion

The Roof is Finally Done

Outside the sounds of the gurgling brook waft up the moss-laden wood-scape. Inside, surrounded by bare wood walls, it has begun; the inspirational retreat.

In true Tron fashion, before the building is yet finished, the first remnants of a writing desk took shape in the form of two sawhorses and a sheet of plywood. The overcast sky made for a cool, refreshing atmosphere, a welcome respite from the abundant heat we had sweltering these last few days of summer. Even here in the mountains, the dog days of summer can linger even into September. As the muted sunlight filtered through windowless walls, God’s inspiration began to flow through my fingertips and onto the keyboard. The first story written within the walls of the Spiritual Retreat was simply called, “Wisdom from a Tree.” It was only fitting, and definitely not intended, as a title seeing as the very trees cut down for the building site now exist as part of the structure under which I sat.

Many friends and followers had asked last week if I had finished the roof. My initial plan had been to take a picture when finished and post it to one of the social media sites, but alas, there was no good camera angle to do it justice; thus, there was no “Aha” moment, that the roof was completed. This morning the inspiration arrived in the form of a tree, and so, in the course of the day it only seemed befitting to settle into the safety of the new shelter to begin doing within for what it was intended; serving the Lord.

There is a gentle peace about this dwelling.

There are no doors or windows to keep the insects at bay. Mosquitos and gnats flutter to and fro in front of the computer screen. Bugs spray glistens from my forearms. The smell of fresh cut lumber fills the air. There is still lots of construction to be done before the glow of the fireplace flickers off the stonework surrounding it, but in my mind, I’m almost there. His Spirit is with me even now.

One can seek solace in many places throughout this world, but eventually, there must be a base from which all of who you are flows. At last, for now, it feels like this is my earthly home.

Thanks be to God.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational

A Level Head…

As we gathered at 8 AM to begin work this past Saturday on the Spiritual Retreat, we began with prayer. We asked God to protect us and to give us strength, guidance, and wisdom as we worked. We also asked that this building be used to serve Him in whatever capacity so that in our work we would be serving God.

The overcast skies were constantly looming ever closer. The weatherman had predicted 100% chance of rain, so when I found myself barely able to make out the markings on the saw before the dawn’s first light, I was even more thankful that it had not yet begun to rain. Each night this past week, after a full day at school, I would drive home, change clothes, and dash out to the work site to continue building as long as the last vestiges of light would allow. Even so, the necessary pieces of framing were still not fully in place by the time the work crew showed up for the first group effort. Once we were all assembled, there was Jim, a neighbor and Airline Pilot; Leroy, my neighbor, mentor, and retired Scout Executive; John “Fletch” Church, another friend and Paralegal, and lastly my son, Jonathan; all brothers and son in Christ. Our intended focus that day was to try to get the plywood sheathing on the roof. However, it was not to be.

In all things, my focus is to always give thanks. Even when things don’t go as planned, there is a certain level of gratitude which must be appreciated. Looking back, the things we accomplished Saturday were things that would have been nearly impossible for one person to do alone; at least not easily and in a timely manner. This group of men had been the answer to the unforeseen problems that would arise, but God knew.

In all we do, there is always a purpose.

And in the work, there was learning.

One of the many things that had yet to be done was to put up the rafter collar ties. Since we had the manpower, three of us stood on the second-floor working; Leroy on the ladder and Fletch and I holding up the two ends of the collar while I nailed them. Leroy was carefully balancing himself on the ladder while holding a four-foot level as we carefully put each rough cut 2×6 in place. At one point, the ladder shifted, and he became unsteady. Shifting his footing, the level slipped out of his hand and came crashing down onto the left side of my head. Most of the impact was to my ear. My initial reaction was, “Well, now that felt good.”

The bells were still ringing in my head when Leroy asked, “Did that hurt?”

“Just a little,” was my reply.

We both laughed. In truth, it stung pretty good, “But hey,” I thought to myself, “At least I’m still conscious.”

However, as I looked up at Leroy, the look on his face was that of concern. Leroy had been like a father figure to me since we had met. The first day we walked into his home, which is now ours, there had been a feeling; something special that I could recognize but didn’t know what it was. The realtor lady, who would later become a sister in Christ to us, Melonie Reid-Murphy, was showing us Leroy and his wife Annette’s home for the first time. Like in the movie, “War Room,” there was something baked into that home. Later, we would learn that when they were building the house, Leroy and Annette went around and wrote scriptures on the 2×4’s. When we would meet for our most unusual, pre-purchase interview, we instantly felt like we had known each other for years. It was then Leroy became my mentor in many avenues of life, but most importantly, was the one of faith.

So, as Leroy looked down at me from the top of the ladder with that look, I knew there was something more.

“Your cut,” he said, somberly, “Your ear is bleeding,” he continued.

Instantly, I could sense his feeling of responsibility wash over me. Trying to abate any of his self-imposed guilt, I replied, “Ok, it’s just another one to go with all the others,” and laughed it off.

“Maybe we could get Jesus to touch it and heal it,” Fletch chimed in about that time.

Instantly, my mind raced to the scriptures. Amongst the ringing still dissipating, like echoes off the distant mountainside, there was no recollection of such an act that I could recall. “Had Jesus healed the servant,” I asked out loud. Both Leroy and John shook their heads yes.  The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane was playing out in my head, but for some reason, the healing had slipped through my comprehension all these years. “Later I will have to look that up,” I thought to myself as we carried on.

Since everyone had other commitments, as is normal for a Saturday, we finished around noon and parted our ways, myself being thankful not only for the help but the fellowship as well.

However, as if it were confirmation of God’s presence that morning, Fletch messaged me the scripture later in the afternoon to which my thoughts had been silently seeking that morning, Luke 22:50-51, “And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.”

As my eyes read, and then reread the passage, the scene began to play out before me. Jesus, standing in the long shadows of the early morning, long before dawn watched as the light of their torches approached. Judas would lead the mob as they approached. The disciples would suddenly jump awake, a bitter irony from their unnatural drowsiness of the night which had forsaken Christ. Yet, now, they were ready to take up arms to protect him, lest they should lose him forever. In his haste, one of them, as the gospel of Luke recalls, would draw his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. We know from other accounts that it was likely Peter who wielded the sword.

At this point, the servant’s assumptions of all that had been said were confirmed. The searing pain of any injury to the ear seems to be magnified, as I had recently known. Although mine was a small scratch, this was an entire ear sliced from his scalp. One can only imagine the thoughts that thundered through the victim’s head as blood began to flow down his face. In that moment, Jesus responded in true Christ fashion, “Suffer ye thus far,” and reached out and touched where the ear had been.

In an instant, the pain stopped. All those watching stood stunned. The torchlight danced around them as everyone was surely silent at that moment.

The servant, who now stood looking down at his former ear, still lying covered in blood upon the ground, felt a tremor of the Holy Spirit ripple through his body. With his right hand, he reached up and felt another ear in the former’s place. All the accusations had in one moment been confirmed by the act of Peter, but before the soldiers could retaliate, Jesus had altered the course of yet another soul. The servant had heard of the rumors of healings and miracles that the man they had come to arrest had performed, but he had never witnessed one in person. Now, he was one would had been healed.

As the servant stood stunned and confused, the scene played on before him. The conflict of what was had now been forever changed, but did it reach his heart?

Paul tells us in the book of Acts, the account to the chief of the Jews in Rome how those who have their minds set against believing we forever be trapped in that prison of anguish, “ Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

As the soldiers and priests escorted Jesus away in restraints, the servant continued to stand immobile, frozen in place as a witness to a crime. The remaining disciples would sneak off into the remaining shadows of the morning to hide. His heart sank at the realization as the error of his ways became known. As he awakened to the reality before him, tears began to fill his eyes.

I asked our preacher this morning what he thought of the servant’s reaction might have been. He agreed that as the rest of the mob would have been set upon arresting Jesus, and like them, the servant’s mind couldn’t have been changed. The thought rumbled through my head like the thunder through the valley as we sat in the sanctuary during this morning’s service.

As the last words of the sermon ended, God whispered into my ear the answer I had been seeking.

With the ears of which he had been born, the servant of the High Priest would have never known or heard the truth. As Paul said, “Their ears were dull of hearing,” meaning, they had their minds set on only believing one story and nothing else. To the Jews, Jesus was just another troublemaker, another Zealot to deal with. When Peter cut off the servant’s ear, he was stripped of his former self. Jesus Christ simply touched him and made him whole, and when he did, the servant of the High Priest was able to receive the truth, and in so, found Christ.

Yes, with a new ear, he could hear, and in the end, found salvation in Christ.

The ringing had finally stopped in my ear and in my heart, I was thankful for a minor slip of a level the day before.

God had answered prayers this past Saturday in many more ways than one. There was no serious injury and, in the end,, we served Him in all that we did.

They say iron sharpens iron, and true fellowship is a gift in and of itself.

Most importantly, let us not forget, “lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”

Let Jesus touch you today, and in the end, you will be healed.

Thanks be to God.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational

God’s Scaffolding

 And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.35 I the Lord have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.” – Numbers 14:33-35

There I stood in the construction site of my Spiritual Retreat, looking up at the single 2×4 which was to support the ridge board, the peak of the building. Above, the canopy opened to the blue sky above. Around me lay the work of many days toil. The pinnacle of the job was about to be reached. An eagerness to push on no matter the consequence burned within; yet, something whispered in my ear to wait. In my younger years, I might have ignored that voice, but now, in these later years, I’ve learned to listen when He speaks.

Stepping back, I reluctantly looked from one end of the ridge board to the other; a mere fourteen feet. Yet, there was not another soul to help me on this day. There was no one that could lift the other end of the board to hold it in place while we sandwiched it between the two opposing rafters. Could there be some sort of makeshift rigging that would hold it? Could I manage to strap it to the overhanging suspension cable that I had used to lift the walls in place? All of these questions began to flood my thoughts as if something else were trying to drown out God’s reasoning. Before any decision could be made, I climbed back down to the ground floor and sat down to rest and ponder.

Another story from another time began to drift across my countenance.

Before the children of Israel would cross the Jordan into the promised land, they sent twelve spies across to survey and bring back a report, knowing that the promised land was already inhabited. Of the twelve that were sent, ten of them that returned told of peoples so massive in number and size that it would be impossible for them to defeat them. Two had a different story to tell, Caleb and Joshua. They shared the fruits of that promised land and the benefits God had waiting for them if they would only believe and have faith that He was with them. This only angered the people to the point they sought to stone those bearing the good news. God was provoked to the point that he wanted to kill them all, but Aaron and Moses pleaded with him, asking for mercy. In the end, they would be sent back into the wilderness to wander for forty years, one year for each day that they had searched the promised land.

They had been so close, but because of their unbelief in God’s power and ability to protect them, they were sent away where “in this wilderness, they shall be consumed.”  Had they listened to all that God had done for them, had they realized what they accomplished up to that point was all because of Him, they would have succeeded. Instead, they listened to their earthly hearts, spurning God and in the end, dying before reaching what was so close.

Looking at the sheer height of the peak of the Spiritual Retreat, a mere seventeen feet above the floor, I knew that to continue might be more than a simple structural failure; I could easily be seriously injured, or worse, killed. Thinking about what the story of the Israelites was telling me, it was obvious that I needed to regroup and think about what had got me this far. Preparation for reaching to the peak of the roof was necessary, and it was not just going to be a couple pieces of wood. No, the majority of the floor joists for the loft and second-floor storage would be required. Sweat ran down my face as I sat drinking another bottle of water, realizing that to succeed, the proper planning and groundwork would be necessary; otherwise, a failure that could be more than a few splintered pieces of lumber could result. I did not want to become one that would wander in the desert for another forty years, or similarly, find myself unable to continue because of a severe injury.

As I worked to begin building the necessary scaffolding, God began teaching me another lesson; one of how he is preparing me for the mission field.

Often, in our earnest to serve Him, once that light has been turned on in our hearts, we eagerly seek to find a mission with which to serve. Some rush to those places of need so dire that even a box of candy and an article of clothing bring people running toward you. Now, don’t get me wrong because all missions are serving God’s purpose in some way. It is the essence of what it means to serve as in the great commission that Jesus commanded that is and should be, at the heart of these journeys. Sadly, they (the feel-good missions I call them) are often misunderstood, and in many cases, ill-prepared participants are sent out into a place that they can little effect, nor change with a box of candy and an article of clothing. These organized church teams that travel to third world countries are bringing momentary hope, but once they leave and jump back onto their planes, returning to their upscale homes and lives, they leave behind utter despair and agony for those who met them with smiling faces and open arms. Their speaking of God’s plan and hope diminishes as their shadows fade into the horizon. To truly serve those lost people in places so ravished with hunger and disease, we must bring to them as Jesus did the woman at the well, the water that needs to bucket, the gift of life that springs forth from a source that will never run dry; Jesus Christ. We must be prepared to know the Word of God to the point we are capable of bringing others to Christ in our own community first, even before going to other lands as strangers to speak through interpreters.

We must prepare our scaffolding well so that we do not fail.

As I watch friends and fellow believers go out into the mission fields, I watch them as they grow and prepare. Men like Chance Walters, Tim Cunnup, Jeffrey Canada, Will Graham, Marty Jacumin, Ted Alexander, and many more, all learning and growing in Christ, each serving the world in their individual ministries. Each of them began at home in planning the groundwork for their mission fields. Each found a place to which they were called, and each leads a life of reaching toward returning. Each of these men and many more bring salvation and hope to a world in which there is often little.

As I painfully, and slowly lifted each scaffolding board into place, it was with great elation as I finally nailed the first pair of rafters in place a full day later. It was then that the culmination of the joy of serving Him this past summer had reached its zenith. The Spiritual Retreat will become the headquarters of my own mission. From this point forward, from this little building nestled in a holler in the woods, God will use me, his vessel, to reach those near and far away lands. And if it be His will, I hope to reach those lost souls that are seeking something beyond what they are capable of reaching on their own; the gift of salvation through God’s only Son, Jesus Christ.

God has a plan for each of us. When we do his will, we serve a greater good than our own. My prayer is that for each of you to seek Him, to find Him, and when you do, that you listen to that still small voice, for it has much to say. Don’t sit still once he has opened your mind and heart to his understanding, but before ye go forth to share the good news, prepare for the journey. Yes, prepare and plan as if your life depended upon it; for those who you seek to reach, their eternal life will depend upon you.

Thanks be to God.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational, Religion

The Work of Our Hands…

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands
.”-Psalms 90:17

The hands are worn and strewn with scars of toil. Yet, there is no remorse, no pity to have bestowed upon thy servant, for the struggle through which he now slaves is but a mere pittance when compared to what is in store for him on that final day. Before him, the makings of a building begin to take shape. To some, it will be just a shelter, a place out of the way, but to the weary of heart, it will be a refuge from the storm. In his heart, God has spoken, telling him that from this place His work shall be done.

For nearly four years, there has been no rest. Wave after wave of tribulation has poured over his bow. His decision to leave everything behind to serve the Lord was complete. There was no turning back. Those in the secular realm scoffed behind his back, saying it would never last. At times he thought his vessel might be capsized, but each time, there was a way out, God’s grace shown upon his journey. There were dark days so bleak that the only hope of his salvation and life eternal were all that kept him going. Illness crept in, dragging him down further until there was but a thin thread of silver lining around that dark cloud which seemed to never go away; God’s mercy was always there.

He was never alone. There was always a presence, angels unaware if you will; those who kept watch over him and his family, day and night. Many prayed on behalf of him and his family. When prayers were lifted up, there was always a reply, all in God’s time.

Day after day, he kept swimming to that far distant shore, never giving in, never surrendering to the forces that tried to pull him under. His purpose had yet to be fulfilled. His legs never ceasing to kick against the current, he kept paddling on. As the Apostle Paul would write, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”

The sweltering heat beat down like a heavy woolen blanket, nearly suffocating each breath. His arm would swell from the heavy twelve-inch block, but he would not be undone. His fingertips would break open and bleed from the rough cinder block surfaces; yet, he would not cease. Stone after stone, the foundation walls began to take shape. Like the steps we take each day in our walk of faith, we build one upon the next. If we build our faith upon a solid rock foundation, we can rest assured the storms of life will not wash it away. If our faith be true, we never falter. It is so easy to give up and turn back, but we must not be discouraged. We work for no human masters; no terrestrial beings will loom over us in eternity. Yes, it is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ we serve.

 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,  since you  know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”                                – Colossians 3:23-24

Although he labors, he knows that it is not an end to the means. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.”-Eph. 2:8-9 No, he is not working his way to heaven; rather, this work is necessary to create a space in which his future endeavors will be serving God. It will become a place that will serve as a spiritual retreat, his prayer closet, his mountaintop repose. From here, the gifts of which God has bestowed upon him shall then once again begin to shine as in days of old.

Once we dive into that river we must cross, we die to our former selves. Leaving everything behind sometimes means giving up those things that might have been chains keeping us tied to sin. They might have seemed well and good from the outside, but within, we were slaves to their bondage. Once we reach that distant shore, we now can see how they were misguided. Now with eyes anew, we can see how those blessings might be better used to serve our Master and to show others the pathway to Christ.

Yes, this is a labor of love; love to his Lord and Savior.

We all have a purpose for which we know not. We must strive to reach that distant shore no matter when or where we begin in life. We must never lose focus of who and what we’ve become when we receive our salvation. We must always be mindful. Others are watching, and for perhaps a brief moment, we might be the light that leads them to their own transformation into Christianity, to receive Christ in their life; of this, we can only hope and pray.

How sweet are the words of which Paul wrote in his final days to Timothy, his faithful brother in Christ, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”-2 Timothy 4:6-8

Yes, there is a crown of glory awaiting all who seek Him.

We will continue our toil, no matter the consequence until that fateful day when we finally are welcomed into those pearly gates with the words, “Welcome good and faithful servant. Well done my son, well done.

Thanks be to God.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Inspirational