Tag Archives: Waldensian

A New Year, A New Look

Announcing the revised edition of my first book, “Bruecke to Heaven,” now published on Amazon as “Bridge to Heaven.” The opportunity for some down time over the Christmas break afforded me the chance to make some changes, not only to the first book, but also revising the second book, “The Light in the Darkness.” To my amazement, or lack of paying attention, the first book never had a soft cover version on Amazon – that has been fixed.

1st book in the Children of the Light series.

Also, the second book needed a reformatting (i.e. reducing the font) and fixing some grammatical errors. All of which were revised and also republished over the break.

Needless to say, once all of that was finished, there was a feeling like of renewed inspiration.

Thus, the first few chapters of the third book in the series has begun. It has yet to be named, but when time allows, and editing of those said pages are completed, I’ll try to share excerpts for your review and comments.

If you would like to suggest a title for the third book, please do. I’m always open to suggestions, and of course inspiration from on high.

The link to the 1st book revised on Amazon is: Bridge to Heaven

The link to the 2nd book, the sequel, on Amazon is: The Light in the Darkness

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A Beautiful Future for Evangelism

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”- Mark 16:15,

Yesterday was another day touring visitors at the Trail of Faith, and as almost always is the case, another day of receiving more blessings than those that could have possibly been given. Students from a summer camp program had come to tour the Trail. Their home church was in Puerto Rico, so they were bilingual, speaking Spanish primarily amongst themselves. They had been studying Waldensian history and using it as an inspiration to go forth into communities evangelizing the Word of God. This was the first group that I had ever known to have been actively recreating the actual acts of those ancient Waldensian peoples, so already, from the get-go, they had my attention and utmost respect.

As we made our way from one exhibit to the next, there grew a growing sense of camaraderie. From the beginning to the very end, I kept purposely reminding them that our goal for the day was not to lift up these ancient peoples, nor ancestry, nor any of this history, but that the primary and most important thing for them to take away was that God should be the center of their lives and that the Word of God was to be revered and protected with all our hearts. But, in a sense, I kept telling myself, you’re preaching to the choir. These kids, yes to me, they were still children being ages high school to college, were already walking the walk that sometimes takes many of us a lifetime to reach.

When we took time in the cave to sing, they chose, entirely on their own without an adult leader, to sing Amazing Grace in English. As they sang, their youthful spirit filled the darkest crevices of that earthen sanctuary. The echoes of distant voices reverberated through my being, and we could all feel the Holy Spirit indwell at that moment. One can never fully convey that feeling when it happens, but you can only be thankful for those brief moments of its presence.

As we entered into the Ciabas Church, we slowly entered after discussing the inscription above the front door and how well they had read it, unlike most classes of their age. Making our way up the gray, slate floor to the front, they began looking for the clue that I had asked them before entering to find what was missing. Their curious voices filled the air, as one by one, they asked a multitude of answers but had obviously noticed the solution. I confirmed that yes, they had answered correctly, that there was no cross. As they found their seats, one of the young men asked if he could play the piano. Another student piped in, “He’s very good.” Gladly, I shook my head, yes, and he sat down and began to play the piece that had been left on the stand before him. “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” The beautiful strains of the old piano, slightly out of tune, began to fill those empty passages of the recreated church. The sound echoed off the walls masterfully. Once more, feeling the Spirit, I found myself walking around to the back of the church and circling back up from behind as if I were in a distant dream, far away in another time. Again, I cannot convey to you how mesmerizing and inspiring this group made me feel. Blessings kept flowing like waters from the mountainside.

We continued on through history and the stories of unimaginable massacres, imprisonments, and forced marches into exile through the harshest, most deadly weather. As we made our way, their attention never wavered, their respect for the story never faltered. Having led many groups of students in the past, an adult was usually present, and by the later stages of the tour, were having to remind some of their students to pay attention. That was never the case with these young people. The more I shared, the more my heart went out to them and how respectful they were of what was being told.

Later on in the tour, while most of the group was inside one of the last exhibits looking around, a young man came up to me, and with tear-brimmed eyes, said, “You really have a heart for this, don’t you?” As he said this, he motioned to the Trail. I knew what he meant, as we both understood the connection to God through the story that had been shared that day. You see, when your life becomes a mirror to the history of a people that gave their lives to share God’s word in a place that was as formidable, harsh, and unforgiven to live as it was in their time and then to survived persecution from enemies against what you did, it was no matter that we had connected beyond the story.

As Jesus became one with his disciples, there should be the same sense with us today with our brethren in our own church communities. Our love of brother and sister should emanate like a beacon of light, as does God’s love for us. Giving our heart through the story of the gospels, no matter if it is being told through the history of the church or through the words in the Gospels, we must seek him with all our heart. It is then, and only then, when we know God and put Him first and foremost in our lives, that all else will fall into place.

Yes, it never fails that when we seek to share the Word of God with others, we often receive more of a blessing than we conceive of those to whom we share. “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”- Mt. 5:15-16

Seek Him first, share His Word, and plant the seeds of salvation for all to receive.

From seeing these young people, and knowing that their passion for evangelizing has already began at such a young age, one can’t help to be comforted by knowing that the future of God’s great commission is in good hands.

Thanks be to God.

Mt. 28:19-20, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

Acts 13:47, “For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.

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A Legacy of Faith

Day after day, as one rock is painstakingly placed upon the next, the form of an ancient fireplace begins to take shape. The work keeps my mind off the fact that nobody calls me back from the multitudes of job applications I have submitted to various agencies. Prayers are lifted unceasingly. While working with mud and stone, there is time for the mind to wander and reflect; to commune with God. I am never alone, even when it may seem that I am.

Retreat Stone Fireplace

The work is slow and arduous. There are times it seems as if it will never be completed, so little seems to be accomplished. It was upon these last few words that the dust of intellect and God’s voice settled.

How compelling to see a structure rise up from the ground, knowing that the only access to the site where a building now stands was a trail through the woods. God’s hand was upon me every step. When block and stone began to be set, what seemed to be an incredulous speed of advancement seemingly came to a halt. Now, as the daily heat begins to climb as our calendar advances toward July, the afternoon temperatures began to soar, causing the pace to slow further.

It was on one of these recent sweltering days that the words began to form.

Standing back and looking upon the work of thy hands, God impressed upon me how permanent these stones are versus the rest of the building. The stones are like our faith and the Word of God. We are as dust, here today and gone tomorrow, but the Word of the Lord endureth forever. Who hasn’t driven down some lonesome backroad and happened upon an abandoned old farmhouse. The only evidence being the singular rock chimney built from indigenous stones found nearby. The remainder of the structure, if still there at all, had long ago succumbed to the rigors of rot and decay. Sometimes, the entire chimney is still completely intact; the heart of the old homeplace where often times the food would be cooked and would also be the only source of warmth in the coldest of winter days.

Like that old chimney, the Word of God continues long after the fragile flesh of this world have gone. It should also be the center of our lives. When we are gone, the remembrance of who we were will vanish. All that will often remain of our earthly life is sometimes the work of our hands. “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”-Psalm 103:14-16

However, that is not the point, leaving a legacy of ourselves. We might think that what we leave to this world should be like the chimney, a visual reminder, but that would be misguided. Don’t get me wrong, it is more than pleasing for our children, and their children to look upon the work of their ancestors and marvel at something that their ancient hands had created that remains until their day. Rather, what we should prefer is that our legacy points to Jesus and a Christ-centered life.

Those stones of the fireplace, each one carefully placed after being hand chosen, can be thought of as the individual moments in life where what we say or did something either in the Word or in a Christ-like manner, made a lasting impact on someone’s life, in a positive way. No stone is the same; likewise, no two events are ever exactly alike. It takes a multitude of rocks to build the entirety of the fireplace; similarly, life is a never-ending stream of events. In our own minds, they are interrelated, no matter the circumstance. They become forever who we are. Those who we reach in our life’s journey become part of who we are as much as the individual stone becomes part of the fireplace.

The mortar, like God’s word, carefully prepared bonds those moments together, uniting all into a solid, rock-hard formation. If the mortar is too wet, it runs and cannot uphold the next stone; its bond is weak. So too is the Word of God if it is watered down. Too often in today’s world, the church seeks to make God’s word “fit” the audience; make it relevant. That’s okay if it is kept in line with scripture, but the problem arises when it is weakened and altered to “blend” into what is considered acceptable by the world, to the natural man’s desires. When we hear of churches becoming more of an entertainment venue than a soul-saving institution, then we know the mortar has started to run.

From the opposite side of the spectrum, if our mortar is too dry, the stones cannot bond for lack of moisture. When the Word of God is delivered in such a dry, ritualistic manner, it becomes foreign to the listener. The concepts and teachings of Christ must be delivered in such a manner that they may be easily understood but without compromising their meaning. If those receiving the message are not right with God, then they too will be unable to understand; simply going to the show does not allow for reception of the word. “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.”-Acts 28:27 When the format of the program seeks to follow outdated legalistic procedures that are not biblical, let alone have a purpose, they destroy what the house of God seeks to employ; the presence of the Holy Spirit; the water of life and the moisture in the mortar.

In the end, if the mason has done their job well, the structure they have created will stand the test of time. If a life has been well lived, there should be no regrets. As a life well lived, the Apostle Paul said it best when he said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

Each stone, each moment in time will have created a living legacy of a Christ-centered life to which many will attest for years to come. If they are equally blessed, there may be a certain fireplace around which they may gather and think of the one who built it, not alone, but in the presence of God.

One could only be so lucky.

Thanks be to God.

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The LORD Is My Shepherd

The crisp cool air hit his flesh, biting into the fingertips that grasped the walking stick. The wind on the peaks had yet to cause anything more than a stirring of the fading leaves here in the holler through which he trod. A fateful night of harsh wins left the trail littered with pine cones and limbs. Up ahead, a fallen flock of trees lay across the path, like obstacles in a steeplechase, over which he must straddle. Onward, like the current in the stream that flowed nearby, his body moved; silent and steady. In his mind, the words of the 23rd Psalm swirled like falling leaves upon the gentle breeze. Their parallel to the model prayer of which Jesus taught his disciples teased his curiosity. Lost in thought, he ambled on, as memories as clear as the crystal waters that gurgled in his ears echoed their distant reply.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”

The air that day had been as crisp, with a matching breeze. The brilliance of the sky was only enhanced by the majestic snow-capped peaks which reached to heights of which he had never seen; at least not from the foot of the mountain. With a small satchel upon his back, he began his unknowing ascent upon the footpath that had been well worn from centuries of pedestrian traffic. To be in the presence of such imagery caused him to pause often and stand in awe. Likewise, the reverence for which he watched became increasingly intense with each footstep upward. Like climbing to the Father, our approach to God the Father, each new day living in Christ, we come nearer to Him. In that manner, we humbly enter into his glory, and by his Grace, we are saved. It is at that point we can boldly say, He is my shepherd.

The burdens of the week began to drift back into the man’s train of thought. Instinctively, he began to prioritize the list, then stopped. “I shall not want,” he said to himself, “God’s got this.” He reminded himself once again that he was trying to do it all. “I must decrease so that He may increase,” he whispered into the chilly air, his breath drifting ahead of his pace.

Once we are aware, the awakening of our spirit allows to know him and He us. In that manner, we can then know that He will care for us as a shepherd to his flock. There shall no need of want. No worries shall cause our brow to cross. All we will ever need will be provided if we only trust in Him.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul.”

Give us this day our daily bread.

As the man returned to his journey up the Germanesca Valley, he recalled standing along the rushing waters of the mighty torrent that tore through the rocks. Like the sound of a roaring freight train, the angry waters thundered past into each falling abyss below. Thirsty, he longed for a drink. Around the next bend in the terrain, a waterfall fell from up above into the pearl blue basin. There, in the foreground of that thundering cascade swirled a beautiful pool of still waters. They beckoned him to come and sup. Bending down, the reflection of a bearded image stared back. He was not the young man he often thought of; rather, this man was aged, but his features showed an internal strength. Cupping his hands, he pulled up toward his face the fresh ice, cold water from the colorless liquid. He drank deeply, as the sweet water poured down his throat, overflowing his chin, it began quenching the deepest desires. He felt a fullness at that point, unlike ever before. The words came to mind, “He who drinks of this water will never thirst again.” The chill of the frigid water touched the core of his body as if his soul had drunk from the well; his spirit was likewise fed; “Restoreth my soul,” he said.

He leads me down paths of righteousness for his namesake.”

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

It was at this point that the man ran into another traveling companion that had ventured upon the same trail. His name was Stanley. He was the Pastor at a church in the Michigan area. He too was here with the same group with which the man was traveling. “Are you thinking about going further,” he asked.

Looking up at the distant peak, they both questioned the challenge that intrigued them both.

“Yes, but you know that the bus leaves at 4:00 pm,” the man replied. They both looked back up at the seemingly impossible climb.

Deep down inside, each man could hear the voice of one calling.

“How about we set ourselves a time limit, and when we reach that point, we have to agree to turn around; regardless,” the man said to the younger traveling companion.

“Okay,” Stanley quickly replied, “you got it.”

“We have to both agree that no matter what, no matter how beautiful it gets, we can’t keep going.”

“Agreed, the young pastor smiled broadly.”

Shaking hands, they took off and began the arduous climb.

Each winding turn in the goat trail that led upward kept turning back pages of scripture. It was as if God were rewinding each page of his life with the turn of each fragile page of the Word of God. Hand in hand he had lived his life with God watching over him, sometimes unknowing, other times purposeful; always led by the hand of the Lord. He literally had been led down God’s path of righteousness, but not of his own accord.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

When the two men had finally reached the peak. There was little time to commune with God. Sitting down, they both knew that this may the only time in this life that they might have the opportunity to reach this point on earth. Praying, they both sought His Majesties presence such that they would feel the Master’s place at their table. Around them, a gentle breeze blew, as raptors soared before them, floating effortlessly upon the unseen currents, slowly drifting past where they sat. Like a parade of God’s creatures great and small, the display of His creation came alive. Not far from their vantage point, wild mountain goats pranced in the snow, while nearby mountain ferrets chased one another in play.

Once they caught their breath, turning, their eyes followed the long dark chasm from which they had emerged. From this valley that had climbed. Below, in the shadows of the massive peaks upon which they now sat, the farthest reaches of the sunlight strained to find the earth. Where there was light, there was no darkness. Yet, even in the light of the midday sun, there were shadows upon the land. Like stains of memories returned, so many countless lives lost; blood scattered upon those very valley floors from whence they trod. Now, far beneath the soil, their memories not forgotten as the word from which the men quoted had remained alive; preserved by those martyrs of ancient times; the ancient Waldensians.

He preparest a table before me in the presence of thine enemies.”

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

Death was merely a shadow, and as such, they feared it not, for to live as Christ was as death, each a gain either way. The rod and staff of God had provided for them even in the darkest of times. When the soldiers came to eradicate them from their homes, they fled to this point, there where the two men sat, and beyond. To the upper reaches of the earth, where if not for safety, to be closer to my God and thee. There the angels carried many to their final resting place.

The pair sat solemn silence. The awe-inspiring scene before the two men left them speechless. Here, the closeness to God was unmistakable. As they dined on the meager fare from which they carried, clouds chased their images upon the nearby snow-capped peaks as the multitude of waterfalls spoke in hushed whispers.

The vantage point from above, so close to Him, so far from that terrestrial countenance that resided in the shadows of the peaks from which they had now climbed. Their apex but merely temporary achievement, but for that which they truly awaited was one far above this point.

There was nothing more one could say, so divine was the beauty before them.

“He anointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over.”

Each man finished and sat in repose; their thoughts inward and upward.

“Stanley,” the man said turning to his newfound traveling companion, “we may never make it here again. This may be the only time in our earthly life that we see the world from this vantage point. Let us give thanks to God for all that we have and for this opportunity to share our meal in his presence.” Stanley nodded in agreement. It was then they both knelt in prayer and praised His holy name as one.

Silently and stoically they stood, walking back to the direction from whence they came. Back down to the lower reaches of that distant valley. There was little to say at that point. No words could encompass what they had just felt.

The man rounded the bend in the road, to the place where he had crossed the river many times. The water today was gray and angry. Its reflection was cold and forbidding. Inside, his heart he had been warmed by the memory of that journey now so seemingly far away. For a moment he wondered about Stanley and where it might be in life. Like strangers upon the road who travel along for a while, their union would become a memory for life; a shared point in time. Until that day when we shall all be called to Glory, then we shall reunite with those momentary acquaintances once more and dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Yes, as the psalmist wrote, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen”

 

Matthew 6:9-13, The Model Prayer

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

 

23rd Psalm

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

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

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

 

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One Soweth, and Another Reapeth…

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.” – John 4:35-38

 

It had been a long day at school, so it was not by choice that I sat waiting for the salesperson to work on our order at the wireless store. I tried to remain positive and tell myself that God had put me there for a purpose. At that present time, it wasn’t obvious; at least not yet.

We had put off switching to a new wireless carrier for some time, but it had finally gotten to the point if we wanted to communicate as needed, we were going to have to use the service that provided the best coverage for the area in which we lived and worked.  The young man that waited on me was very kind and extremely courteous. As he began the process of transferring data from one device to the other, we started talking about where I worked and found that we had mutual connections. It wasn’t long before it became apparent, he was a believer too. In fact, after we shared some personal testimony, he told me that he had given his two weeks’ notice just moments before I stepped foot in the door to answer his calling to become a youth pastor at a nearby church.

It was then I began to feel the presence of the Holy Spirit ripple across my forearms.

Suddenly, his phone rang, and he had to excuse himself from our conversation.

About that time message appeared on my old phone which we had not yet ported over to the new service. The news was from a distant relative, one that I’ve never met in person. A few years back, I had shared with him part of our Waldensian ancestry and how we came to be. He seemed interested, but not beyond just wanting to hear about those ancient names. The story beyond, from whence we came didn’t seem to intrigue him; at least not from my vantage point. Once I provided him the information, we only remained in contact through shared “likes” on social media.  However, from what I saw from his posts, his life once was devoured by pleasures of the flesh. He found his comfort at the end of a bottle, so the pictures said. But the message at that moment that came to me as I sat in the cell phone store in Boone was that God had found a way to reach him.

As I read with eyes of joy, he told a friend who had inquired about his post, “I haven’t touched a drop in over a year.” He then went on to say how he was regularly attending a church in his community. My heart leaped for joy, and I stood up, rejoicing out loud. The questions raced through my mind, “Had I somehow planted a seed?” “Did God use that seemingly insignificant contact years ago to begin working on my distant cousin?” Those and many more rushed through my mind as my new friend got off the phone smiling at my exuberant demeanor.

“I guess that was good news,” he said pointing at my phone.

“Oh, yes, more than I can explain,” pausing to gain understanding of what had all just transpired.

Then the words of Jesus came rushing in, “And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.”

In all things, no matter how small, nor how insignificant, God has a purpose. As I stood there in that small store, I had found another soul that had recently taken another leap of faith. As we talked the thought of another time and place when my just being somewhere was God using me, and again, it felt the same. Yet, now as I stood there, another soul had found something greater than that which is in the world.

With each tiny seed we plant, we may not reap the harvest, but it is God that will bring the crop to fruition. It is not us that will change that being. It is not our doing that will cause another to turn to Christ; it is God, and God alone.

In all that we do, there is a purpose.

Last Saturday, as we sat watching the Western Piedmont Community College graduates ascend the short stairway to the stage, the feeling of a proud parent swelled our chests. In what seemed like yesterday, I was holding him in my arms for the first time, watching the helpless lifeform, totally dependent upon his mother and father to survive. Our son now stood in his graduation regalia receiving his diploma, then leaving the stage, returned to his seat. His independence is a culmination of 18 years of love, care, and patience. What God hath given life unto us, we have taken that responsibility and nurtured him into adulthood. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required,” reads Luke 12:48 And so with eyes brimming with moisture, we know that soon he will leave us. It is only natural.

We had planted the seed. It is up to him to continue to allow it to grow. But the seed had begun to ripen much earlier.

For those many years of his life, we have taught him how to live in faith. At the tender age of 10 years, he found Christ. His salvation came in a little model Church at the Denton Bluegrass Festival. Every year, Doyle Lawson would offer those who wanted to attend, a church service at the close of his festival. One of his good friends, brother Dale Tilley, would most often be the preacher. And so it was this Mother’s Day weekend when we sat in the row just behind Doyle’s band, that we heard brother Tilley bring another spirit-filled sermon to a weary group of bluegrass campers. After brother Dale Tilley had nearly finished his altar call, my weekend was just about to get even better. Without any idea what was about to happen, my boy leaned over to me and whispered the words into my ear that I will never forget, “I want to be saved.”

My heart leaped for joy.

Upon his request to wait until everyone had left, I motioned to brother Tilley that we needed to talk, and as everyone ushered themselves out, the door closed and we were alone. Brother Tilley directed us through the process as we knelt in prayer and supplication. There on that ancient wooden floor of the little white clapboard country church, my son spoke the words and prayed the prayer to ask Christ to come into his life. With tears in my eyes, we stood up to leave. It was just brother Tilley, my son and I. As we reached the back doors of the church, we opened them to find that we were not alone. There under a clear, blue Carolina sky stood Doyle Lawson and his entire band.  The entire entourage was still standing in a row on the steps of the church, they had paused from their busy schedule, waiting to celebrate my son’s decision.

The tears ran down my cheeks as I watched entertainers turned Christians welcome another one into their fold.

It is a day I will never forget.

The seed had been planted, but another reaped the harvest, but we rejoiced together.

God has a purpose in everything we do. What will become of the young man at the cell phone store? I may never know, but it really doesn’t matter; God knows.

One day, when we reach that far distant shore, there will be a welcoming into the fold. We’ll find the angels of the Lord standing in a row, pausing for each of us, ushering us into those heavenly gates. On that day, the answers to the questions we never knew will become obvious.

What a day it will be.

Thanks be to God.

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A Visitor from Afar

And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” – 2 Kings 6:17

He looked down at his worn, weathered hands as he told his story. His voice barely above a whisper, hoarse and as cracked as those calloused palms to which he spoke. “They would not listen,” he recalled, the clear blue eyes glazed over as he looked into the distant past. “We tried to warn them, but it was of no use.” He shook his head as he looked up at me, wanting to say more but emotion had gripped his throat. He lowered his head and ran his fingers through his course gray-speckled hair, relenting to the pain within until he could speak once more.

When he had finally recovered, his demeanor had changed. Like that of an ancient warrior who had finally prepared for battle, he had returned to the front to continue the fight and tell the rest of the story.

“We had known that they were coming, but we didn’t know when. I was with my brother in the upper pastures. It was late spring, and our sheep were hungry for any new growth. A couple weeks earlier, all the men had met one evening to discuss what we would do if they came. We knew that God was with us, but we also knew from the past, that we would need to do more than to kneel and pray when their swords began to swing. There were arguments on both sides of the faith, but eventually, we of the warrior clans ruled out. We wanted to believe that God would lead us, and we always will, but then again, we knew in the ancient times, God also fought on the side of the Israelites, and we as them, believed in our Heavenly Father; now so probably more than then. So when we heard the rumble of the hoof beats echoing up the canyon walls, we knew it was time. I raced along the ridgelines trying to watch as I flew through rock and tree, trying not to slip to the depths below. As we raced back to our farms and villages, the ancient men of faith felt their hearts in their ears. The pounding of blood pulsed through our veins as the spirit drew neigh. We had been told that overwhelming forces would come, but we feared not, for in the days of Elisha, Gideon, David, and all the other biblical kings of old who needed God to help them win, we too knew that without Him, we would surely meet Him sooner than later.

In the distance, I could see some of the families already beginning to flee to the upper reaches of the valleys. Their belongings and animals in tow. There was something about the sight of family and friends fleeing for their lives that made your insides turn into fire. We no longer felt our legs as we were at once lifted from the ground and seemingly placed into our positions of defense awaiting the onslaught of deranged armies. Their purpose had been prepared by those who had lied about the truth, swaying even the most ardent believer into thinking that they were doing the Lord’s work by attacking these meager hunters and farmers. We would find out later that we had been described as devil worshippers, practicing occult rituals, holding worship of our own accord and slandering God’s Word to make it fit our demonic worship. Those lies stung as bad as the flames that would consume most of our kin, the lucky ones that had been captured.

The rest of us would live to find a worse fate.

That day could never be erased from my mind, as we stopped one advance after another. They came like swarms of locusts, too many for the few of us to shoot with arrow and spear. We turned to rolling boulders from above to both crush them and to block the passes through which they had been attempting to pass; some only wide enough for one or two men to pass through at a time. By nightfall, we had secured our border, but with only a handful of men, the new dawn would bring more soldiers from below. Our families had for now made some good time, but the climb to the nearby peaks was slow and grueling. The elderly moved at their own speed, not fearing what was to come, but instead, welcoming it, for they had already asked for the Lord to deliver them.

Knowing that they needed more time, we stayed to buy them at least one more day’s travel. That night I watched as the stars came out and all of God’s creation was on display for us. The pitch-black sky was the perfect backdrop for the multitude of stars that lit the heavens above. The night air was cold, for it was still spring. Pockets of snow still clung to the shadowed sides of the mountains. The woolen overcoat I had carried was barely enough to keep me warm. We dared not light fires for fear of being discovered and giving away our positions, so we huddled close to one another and did the best we could, falling asleep praying to God above.

I felt as if we had barely fallen asleep when the glow of the coming morn began to light the eastern horizon. The sun had barely touched the skyline when we heard the sound of footsteps echoing again up the valley. Our hearts began to beat in time as we knew we were the only thing between our loved ones and death. Before we picked up the sword and shield to begin possibly our last day on earth, we gathered together in prayer.”

“Brother,” the old man said to me as his eyes began to well up once again, “I can tell you I had never known anyone or anybody that had prayed a prayer before that day that came true as it did that day. I must say to you before you think it, that this must just be an exaggeration, but I tell you as the Father in Heaven above sits on the throne of God, it is true. That day we prayed as one, and we said this, “God, please Lord if it be your will, give us the strength to do what is right, to save our loved ones, to defeat this force. God we know we cannot do this alone, for as in those days of Elisha, we need you now, oh Lord we need you. We beseech you, God, to send us down angels from on high to aid us in this battle if it be your desire. We seek your guidance, we seek your love, we seek you in all that we do from the very day we are born until the day we die. Lord hear our pleas, for we are the keepers of your word, from the beginning until this day, Thanks be to God, Amen.”

“We turned from that moment and took up our positions, the few of us that remained.

As we knelt behind rock and crevice waiting and watching until they were within range, the clouds began to cast shadows on the lower vestiges of the valleys. We could see the winds swirling them over the peaks behind us. Some of our younger men began to pray out loud, asking for the safety of those family members still trying to reach those distant summits before the storms hit. Distant thunderclaps shook the ground as dark, ominous clouds began to shroud the peaks that heretofore shone like brilliant golden statues in the morning sunlight.

It was then as if God had truly stood with us, that the unbelievable happened.

Shrouds of blinding ice and rain began to rush past us, like embodied beings of another realm. Lightning strobed in sequenced flashes, striking objects below our cover, shaking the earth until we thought we too might be thrown into the hell that had become the onslaught of man and beast below. Screams of horror and death could barely be heard over that of the wind, like a horrific banshee of hades, all had been obscured from anything we could determine to be human. There was no describing the scene below us, other than we could only determine in blinding sequences of scenes; men, beast, and other, intertwined in a battle that no mortal could withstand.

Time passed, and the sound of our own heartbeats in our ears drummed to the sound of the throng of echoes which combined into a siren of prayers which had been answered. I grasped onto the granite boulder before me to make sure I was still alive, so surreal was everything else around me at the moment.

We don’t know what day if it were the same or more than one, but eventually, the squalls ended, and we could rise from our places of battle refuge.

Below us on the mountain, there were only vague remnants of what had been a sizeable army. Pieces of shields, fragments of weaponry, and human remains all littered the landscape. It was as if a mighty beast had torn them asunder, limb from body, head from torso; the death was complete; not one had survived.”

The old man looked up at me and smiled for the first time.

“You see,” he nodded as he spoke, “God be with us.”

I sat in silence and in awe.

For a moment, I could feel his hand upon my knee as he wanted to say more, and then he was gone.

The day had been long and my brief rest in the chair had turned into a nap. Little did I know that it was more than just a peaceful rest I would encounter. Outside in the nearby woods, a woodpecker tapped out his vibrant melody.

I had not expected it nor known he was coming, but it was a blessing to have been visited from afar once more.

May God be with us.

Thanks be to God.

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“The Light in the Darkness” finally reaches the light of day.

It began back in 2013 and but was put on hold when we answered the Call to serve. This past week, the Lord placed it upon my heart to reopen the old friend and revisit those within. Once the cover was cracked, there was no turning back.

Needless to say, there have been many positive changes to the publishing world since my last venture. So much so, that now I feel comfortable using Amazon KDP. The tireless ordeal of writing literary agents and publishers is just outside my available time as a High School teacher, so for now, this will have to do.

In the next few days, both the E-book ($4.99) and a Paperback version will be available through Amazon.

This work was more than twice the size of the first book. My beta readers found the story line twice as compelling. Overall, the paperback will be 702 pages, for $19.95, which should be twice the savings. Hopefully by now, you guessed it, I hope you find it twice as good.

The release date shows March, but as soon as I get the reference information loaded, it should be available later this week.

Please let me know what you think. Most of all, I hope you find yourself seeking the Word of God, and hopefully your walk with Him will become closer after reading the story within.

Lux Lucet in Tenebris, The Light Shines in the Darkness

Here is the link to the E-book.

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Who will Rise Up for Me…

By Timothy W. Tron

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?”-Psalm 94:16

(Dedicated to all those who lost their lives in Sutherland Springs, Texas.)

We heard the loud bang in the vestibule, but we didn’t give it a second thought, at least not until the doors that separated us from the outer room became ajar. From where I sat, I could see the guard’s leg lying on the floor. His foot had pushed the door barely open; it was then I realized something was dreadfully wrong. Before the words could come from my mouth, a madman burst in the door of the sanctuary opposite from where we sat. He was screaming obscenities while waving his AR-15 back and forth at faces frozen in fear as he marched toward the pulpit yelling, “Where was the mother f*!@*!er that had been f*!*!g his wife?” My heartbeat in my ears as I peaked over the pew from where our row had taken cover. From there I began looking for an angle from where I could take him out. He was moving too quickly for me to get a clear shot. Before we knew it, another one of our security team had done the job, taking out the active shooter from behind a column before he could advance any further and begin firing.

Fortunately, this had only been a drill.

We were taking part in a seminar on how to prepare for one of the most unfortunate events of our times; church shootings.

Each day we seem to awaken to more and more darkness in our world.

Before we began the program, we met in a separate room where our facilitator for the day was introduced. The mood was solemn. Before the presenter spoke, our host, quoted Psalm 94:16, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” He briefly discussed the reason we were there, which we all were very aware. The most recent mass shootings at the church in Texas had awakened many to the need to begin, or further strengthen their worship service security measures. Our facilitator was then introduced, and he gave some background references that made the hair stand up on the back of your neck; this was the real deal. Having had some military training, one would understand, for those that have also been there, that you know when someone is capable of walking the walk, not just talking the talk, and so it was with our teacher this day.

My mind thought of those ancient primitive church leaders who were persecuted for preserving the Word of God. After seeing thousands of their own slaughtered in one massacre after another, they realized that to survive to carry on their legacy and to continue the true faith, they must do as the Word says in many places; the faithful must use what God hath given them; the knowledge, the ability, and the power to persevere. Their decision was based on their full understanding of the Word. In a time when it was a matter of life or death, once again, the Word of God spoke to them; time after time. For instance, we can find in Psalm 144:1, “Of David. Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle;” Then again in the New Testament, Romans 13:4, “For he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”

Several times in between the days of the Apostles, until the great awakening began in Europe, men like Joshua Janavel would take a stand and protect the Word with their lives using the sword. The persecutions of these primitive churches would increase as mankind passed the first millennium. By time Janavel came along, there had already been two-hundred years of slaughter and resistance. Janavel would become known as one of the greatest military leaders to come out of the Waldensian Valleys in the 17th century. He would lead his people against insurmountable odds, again and again, simply because he knew if God was with them, then who could stand against them. Their adversary, or rather, persecutor, was the Church of Rome. The church-state wanted full control of mankind’s soul and would stop at nothing to annihilate anyone who stood in their way, including those few renegade heretics in their country’s northern valleys who had received the Word directly from the Apostles.

Many during Janavel’s time and centuries before had succumbed to believing in taking the passivist role, and for that, they died. Had they all done the same, we might have never had the Word in its pure form that we have today. But because Janavel knew his Bible as well as he knew those valleys, he would go on to lead a tiny guerilla force against entire armies and survive. He would write of his methods and share them with other Waldenses, who also would overcome unthinkable odds. To this day, his tactics are still shared with Cadets in our own military, at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Janavel also believed that by fighting, he was doing God’s will. If one of his men cursed, he would force them to attend a Council of War, whereby they would be warned, that if it happened again, they could be put to death. This was the extreme belief Janavel held, in that God was using him and his people as vessels through which they were to do His will, not their own. So, before each battle, he would have his forces kneel in prayer, to ask for forgiveness of the lives they would take, but to also ask that God watch over them and protect them if it be His will. Because of Janavel and men like him, we can share the true Word and faith of Jesus Christ, without any adulterations, or misguided interpretations as the Church of Rome would have it.

Once more, we find ourselves on the verge of facing persecutions like in times of old. Around the world, this has already begun, and unfortunately, with time it will begin here as well. Our enemies are many, but we have been given the ability to protect our flocks, and a such, we should do all we can.

From that point forward in the lecture, my mind was back in Basic Training mode. The instruction was purely from a militaristic point of view, as it needed to be. To provide some insight as to the seriousness of the program, we were first all asked to unarm ourselves before beginning the exercise. The leader said that when we began, the simulation might become so real, that there would be some that might revert to their former training. He had known people to black out, allowing that trained instinct to take over, and as such, we needed to take the precaution to remove all live fire from the exercise; save for one person who was selected to be the guard, just in case.

For the remainder of the morning, we practiced one scenario after another, talked of tactics to take, and discussed options when using deadly force. In all, it was very surreal. As we were wrapping up, the facilitator said something that really hit home when he was describing the security team members you would need. He said, “You want to be sure you pick people who are true Christians, people that know where they are going, and those that are willing to give their lives to save others.” It was then that the cross and Jesus came back to the moment. When we step into our faith and honestly believe, we should no longer fear death; which was the teacher’s intent. “Those who fear dying, you do not want protecting your congregation,” he reminded us.

Once more, the solemnness overwhelmed us. Many sat staring off into the distance once the exercises had completed. Their minds reflecting on all that we heard and saw, but what was more disturbing, what was to come. Yet, when we walk in faith, we know that as times continue to the end of days, we already know what to expect, as scripture says in Mark 13:7, “And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet.”

When my son and I signed up for the program, we didn’t realize we were actually taking part in a live exercise. We were not disappointed. However, we gained valuable insight as to what to expect and what we must try to anticipate in a world that is increasingly falling away from organization into chaos. We must continue to be the light in a dark world, no matter the cost.

In the end, if we know He is with us, who can be against us.

Thanks be to God.

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I Am With You Always…

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”-Matthew 28:19-20

 

Arktos sat on the expanse of stone, his balcony to the world that opened below. High on the mountain range above the Germanesca Valley, he sat watching the clouds gather in the depths of the void below. The air blew steadily up here. He closed his eyes and tilted his face toward heavens. The warmth of the sun caressed his aged face, blending the deep ravines of time into one of wisdom. His long gray hair, speckled with white wafted against his shoulders. The white beard gave him an air of intellect. Beneath it, his tanned skin, taut against his chiseled chin, gave the look of, “You will pay if you cross me,” which belied his true gentle nature; the tender heart beneath the façade of an ancient warrior. This was his place of repose, his solitary corner of earth where he could commune with God. To obtain this height, one must have the strength of a bear and the agility of the mountain goat.  Up here, the world below seemed so distant, so unimportant compared with what lay ahead.

Here there was no sound of humanity. There was nothing but the sound of the distant waterfalls cascading into the abyss below. Their voices echoed off the granite walls of God’s fortress of granite that surrounded him.

He was lost in thought, one with the Father as the words came to mind, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”-Phil. 4:7

As life and time march onward, the realization of himself becoming the one that others looked to for guidance bothered him. True, he studied the Word relentlessly, but he never seemed to rise above who he saw in those crystal-clear pools from which he supped his handfuls of water. There beyond those sky-blue eyes, was the same man he had seen for all his life. Much of the world around him had changed, loved ones had gone on, and now, he was nearly alone save for the few that were left.

Earlier that morning, he and the others had met once more to study and worship. There was no set plan, just the Word to guide them. They were the remnants of their kind. Many had been lost; as many had perished from the mountain as had those who had died from the sword. They were the keepers of the Word, the bearers of Christ’s ministry. They had no name as of their own, but rather, were given only the name from whence they came, the Vaudois. These were the Vaudoisians, the Children of the Light, as they had also become known.

As they slowly gathered, one, then another, in that small but ancient stone building that had created so many before them, each one was welcomed with brotherly love. They were united as one centuries before, longer than even their elders could remember. The words they used to describe their beginning were simply, “Since time Immorium.” As they prepared to begin, each lit a candle or lamp from which to read. The ancient structure barely allowed the slightest amount of light to enter. While light was hard to find, in the deepest recesses of winter, the sturdy, meter-thick walls also kept the freezing cold without; thus, serving as the perfect sabbatical from the outer world during the long dark winter months. Yet, even in the early summer, as now, they met to refresh their scriptures before departing for their summer missions beyond these peaks.

Today had been especially rewarding. There was the initial joking and sharing of mental challenges, but eventually, as was usually the case, someone said something that yielded to a lesson from within the pages of that precious text, the one they had guarded with a millennium of lives. Immediately, they dove within the leaves of that ancient book seeking the trail upon which they felt obliged to follow. Their questions led to further searches, all following a path only their Lord would know. The older students merely closed their eyes and quoted the scripture from memory, so intense was their learning.

Sitting back and watching their education come to fruition, Arktos had been blessed beyond measure. He knew in time, they would be gone, leaving for their journeys.

Many would never return.

Time after time he had seen them grow, become one with the Word, then leave to serve their commission. Those that returned had a renewed vigor that only experience and life could teach. Each time, he saw the youth that had been present in the spring of life be torn away, leaving behind the shell of reality forced upon their tender souls. Those that never came back left a hole in his heart that could never be replaced.  He felt so inadequate for what he was there to do. There was so much he needed to learn himself, so much more he could share, if only there were more time.

He returned to the present when the cry of the raptor that pulled him back. Before he opened his eyes, he whispered softly, “God give me the strength, and the wisdom to do your will until I no longer have the breath left to live another day.”

Blinking to the light of day, he tilted his head forward. There soaring upon the currents before him was a beautiful Golden Eagle. Below, them both, the sun had broken through the clouds and the expanse of meadow falling away to the sharp blue-gray edges of the valley below opened up. The view was breathtaking, as the wild bird was in its grandeur; man and beast as one, above the spectacle of creation only few can imagine. The old man felt the presence of God as the bird remained in place, gliding along with little to no effort. Its piercing eyes sought him, and from within he could feel a voice resonate through his soul.

You are not alone, for I am with you always, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”

Arktos could not move. He tried to nod in agreement, but nothing would work; his head could not shake, his fingers could not even curl to feel the stone beneath where he sat. He was spellbound by those penetrating eyes and the omnipotent voice within.

Another searing cry from the eagle echoed off the nearby snow-covered peak, and immediately, the roar of the waterfalls returned. He blinked, and the beautiful bird was gone.

Had he dreamt the scene?

Had it been just another vision?

He reached for his weathered walking stick to prepare for the journey back down the mountain when he noticed it. There beneath its handle lay the reminder of the moment; a tail feather from a Golden Eagle.

He smiled, as he tucked away the keepsake into his backpack, and begin his slow descent into the world that awaited below.

He had nearly disappeared from that summit when the call of the great eagle echoed from a distant valley, and he smiled once more, for God was with him. Yes, God would be with him always.

Thanks be to God.

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The Pre-Reformation Celebration…Lux Lucet in Tenebris

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” – 1 Peter 2:9

This morning’s scripture was heavy on my mind as my little blue car ascended the mountainside.

Just two days ago, the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation was celebrated. The tiny footnote of those that had gone on before that had made that day, 500 years ago possible was barely mentioned, if at all. For those to know the truth, the light must have been passed from the Apostolic times until that date, but by whom? The truth was made known in Peter’s writing which, if the rest of the story were known, would make perfect sense. For to know the truth, the Word of God becomes all that much more significant.

Where once inhabitants of the remote mountain valleys were known simply as barbarians, they eventually, by the grace of God, became known by another, which eventually made them targets for centuries to come. Their firm belief in the Word of God, their strict adherence to its every letter would lead them to be Apostolic in belief, but make them an object of aberration by the corrupted state Church because of their faith’s immovable tolerance for anything beyond the truth, the way, and the light of Jesus Christ. They would be sought for annihilation, purposeful extinction by the Church of Rome. In essence, theirs was the holocaust of the Alps.

The people of whom I speak are those of the Waldensian Valleys, located in the Cottien Region of the Alps situated in the northwest corner of Italy. They became a people, known as the “People of the Bible,” because of their memorization and preservation of its original content. Their families, generation after generation, would pass down these teachings until they would become one with them. In a sense, they would become a “holy nation” without borders, without a king, without a distinct leader. They would turn from pagan worship to that of the most ardent believers of Christianity; truly, they were called of the darkness and into the light, yes, the most marvelous light.

Although many shunned the spotlight of notoriety, they would become preachers, missionaries, and evangelists of the Word.  Their ordination was by God, a royal priesthood if any. Yes, they were chosen by God for a reason, for a purpose, for a time, and thanks be to God, I have been blessed to have been born into that lineage, to which I now try to uphold some substance, some modicum of forbearance of what those that gave their lives so vividly upheld in their time. We are called into a time such as this to carry on the truth, to shed light upon the world wherever we may go.

My fervent prayer is that I may be able to continue to be a light to those around me in all that I do, each, and every day until my last breath on this earth.

Lux Lucet in Tenebris, The Light Shine in the Darkness.

Thanks be to God.

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