Echoes From the Campfire

His strength lay in the silent knowledge of his own abilities and courage.”
              –Dave P. Fisher (Where No Man Rules)

    “Keep every command I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to cross into and possess the land you are to inherit.”
              –Deuteronomy 11:8 (HCSB)
    I recently heard a sermon where the preacher said we need to get away from the familiar.  We should have nothing to do with the familiar.  Now, I tried to keep the cynical-skeptic under control as I listened.  He admitted to have a Millennial perspective so I tried to see what he meant by the “familiar.”
    My mind began to whirl.  Shouldn’t we be familiar with God?  Shouldn’t that be one of our main goals in life–to be His friend and how can we do that if we are not familiar with Him?  The minister used the example of Abram, going to a place with which he was unfamiliar.  Okay, I get that part, but…let me give some examples.
    When I go camping I want to be familiar with my tools.  I want to know how to use an axe properly, and let me tell you I’ve seen folks who didn’t and it was a scary sight to behold.  I want to know how to use a knife, and then sharpen it.  I want to know how to put up a tent, even in the rain.  I want to know how to build a fire, even in the rain, and cook something over it besides hotdogs on a sharpened stick.  I want to be able to identify poison ivy and poison oak.  I want to be able to identify animals in the area.  I want to know where I am, what kind of terrain I’m in, what season it is.  In other words, I want to be as familiar with my equipment and the locations as possible.
    Maybe it’s the military in my life, but I want to be familiar with my weapons.  I want to be as familiar as I can with the enemy’s tactics and strategies.  What will he use against me?  What type of snares are there along the trail?  The same is true of the enemy of our soul–the devil.  In fact, Paul says that we should not be ignorant with his devices, schemes, snares (2 Corinthians 2:11).  We may not have ventured into the region in which we find ourselves, but we can study and know the characteristics of the place, the people, the food, the culture, etc.
    One thing I sensed in the message is that one thing he would mention is that we need to get away from the familiar–the voice of authority and do my thing.  In my mind, I am thinking, he means to get away from putting himself under someone, listening to experience, studying hard and just by going out and doing his thing everything will be hunky-dory.  It made me think of someone I read recently from Dave Roever.  

         “God allows times of suffering to teach us obedience.  Obedience is not achieved by never being satisfied, running in every direction looking for your ship to come in, and thinking that a better deal will leave the failures of your past to remain there.  Those failures will follow you until they discipline you and guide you for a future, albeit, without any promise of success.  But it is a promise of a future!  Success hinges on, and is determined in our darkest hours, not by a light revealing the end of the journey, but by the light which reveals the next step.  If you don’t take the next step, you will get nowhere fast.  Take the next step.  That much you can see.  It’s not what you cannot see that threatens you.  If’s not taking the next step that will derail you.”

    True, the next step may not be familiar, but when you take it you depend upon your experiences, you depend on your training, you depend on your skills and knowledge, and mostly importantly of all–you depend upon God.  In all these things you should be familiar.

Echoes From the Campfire

Fine times an’ good boot is about anybody can ever hope t’ want.”
              –Clair Huffacker  (The Cowboy and the Cossack)

    “I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need.”
              –Philippians 4:12 (AMP)
The affluent church is a dangerous thing.  Now, I am not speaking of the influence of the church upon the world, but the affluent church can get caught up in all of its programs, and start to believe the its own hype.  This happened to the Catholic Church in medieval times.  It became extremely rich and powerful, but what did it do for the poor people?  More tithe, selling of indulgences.  Other churches have gone the same way, and it is very prevalent in the large independent churches.
    I just finished reading The Robe, a book that I read many years ago.  Here is an interesting observation found in its pages.

         “The Christian afoot is a formidable fellow–but–when he becomes prosperous enough to ride a horse–…–a Christian on horseback will be just like any other man on horseback!  This Jesus army will have to travel on foot–if it expects to accomplish anything!”

When the church becomes just like everyone else it will cease to be the influence for which it was intended.  First, it was to proclaim and spread the Gospel, then it is was to make disciples.  Most often, if a church and/or pastor, gets too big for their britches the influence upon society is either not as great or gone altogether.  Salt and light, not compromising and acting just like society.
    I’m sure some of you must have made resolutions for the year.  I know some of them were for better health, eating right, losing weight, exercising, etc., and these are good and fine resolutions.  There are some other good ones, such as reading more, reading classics, keeping a journal.  In other words, things for self-improvement.
    But look at this verse:

              “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
                        –2 Corinthians 5:10 (KJV)

Only the things done for Jesus will last for eternity.  With that in mind, look again at your resolutions.  Or if you prefer, inventory your life.  In fact, this is something that should be a regular occurrence.  Rick Renner gives five questions that we should use when conducting a inventory of our lives.  Check them out and see how you answer.

         1)  What do I give to God financially?
         2)  What are my spending habits like; how do they reflect my character?
         3)  What am I doing with my time?
         4)  Whom am I serving with my talents?
         5)  What do I spend my time praying about?

The Saga of Miles Forrest

I reckoned it was the blood that drew the wolves. They normally don’t fool around with men, but with the blood scent in the air they figure there are weak or dead folk around.  Winter time, and they’re just looking for an easy meal; kinda like a boarder waiting for his hash in one of them boarding houses.
    “Lucas, why don’t you go with Charlie and round up some buckets.  I’m goin’ for a meander in the woods,” I suggested to him as his eyes were still wide with fright every time one of those wolves would send up a howl.  From the sound there must be more than a half dozen.  He and Lucas headed on up to the car looking first there and then on to the caboose.
    “Theo, I’m goin’ straight out, and then veer to the right.  Did Charlie tell you his horse was shot?” I asked.
    He looked shocked.  “After the explosion?”
    “Right after the explosion and he made sure that Marta was alive, he came out of the car to survey the damage.  Someone took a shot at him,” I gazed around and pointed, “most likely from over in that bunch of rocks.  I’m goin’ there to take a look.”
    “Be careful; I’ll go check on those inside the canvased-off area.  See if they have enough fuel for the night; get some of the men to go out and gather,” he paused, then continued.  “It’s gonna be cold since the snow stopped.  Reckon it’ll get close to zero or below.”
    “Better make sure they go in twos and carry weapons; those wolves are gettin’ right friendly.  You might consider putting fires in four corners and the people inside them.  It’ll keep them warmer, but it will take a bunch of wood.  Also might keep the wolves at bay.”
    I moved slowly toward the rocks that was probably a little over fifty yards away.  I doubted if I would see any tracks since the snow, but a person never knows what might pop up.  Theo was right about one thing; it was cold.  I knew I could count on him; he was an old-timer who’d seen his share of troubles.
    Going to the rocks I tried to picture myself in a position to fire on the train.  I went to different places in the rocks.  I would get myself in position and try to imagine what happened.  There was one spot where a person had a clear view of the last door on the passenger car and the baggage car.  It made me think that he could have been the one to detonate the dynamite at this spot.  As I pulled myself up two unexpected things happened.  I looked down and there was a spent .44-40 cartridge and then I got a whiff of smoke.
    Following my inclinations I tried to figure on where the smoke might be coming from and headed off in that direction.  I walked careful and easy.  It was so cold that the snow was crunching under my feet.  I didn’t want to go too far, but when I picked up another nose-full I kept going.  I had walked maybe a half-mile and then I saw it, down in a little cleft between rocks was a fire.  I couldn’t see the flames as the rocks were covered with a canvas, but the glow was showing.  
    It was getting on toward dark, and I didn’t want to be out here in the dark, plus the fact that my toes were getting cold.  I waited and then I heard a howl off to my right and a commotion.  A man was running–chased by a wolf.  I watched him getting closer to the fire and then he stumbled and fell.  The wolf was upon him, tearing at him.  I was taking aim at the wolf when from the far side another joined in the fray.  He was screamed as the wolves were ripping at his flesh, trying to get at the soft underparts where the body organs lay.  
    I fired, hitting one of the wolves and it fell off whimpering.  The other wolf sorta jumped, but then went back after the man.  Then a shot came my direction from the campsite.  Turning my attention in that direction I unleased several shots, and heard a grunt.  Slowly I moved toward the fire; I heard nothing from the man who had been attacked, only the snarling of the wolf and ripping of flesh.
    “Comin’ in!” I hollered.  “Any movement and I’ll start shootin’ again.”  All I heard was a groan.
    As I entered the little canvas lean-to I saw a man laying on the ground, bleeding from where my bullet had found his stomach.  There was fear in his eyes.  “Don’t let those wolves have me, please.  I know I’m dyin’, but I don’t want to be torn apart.”
    “Start talkin’.  Got a name?”
    “Clem Ebert, the fella out there is my brother, Silas,” he moaned, in pain and in fear.  “They got him, didn’t they?”
    I nodded and said, “Yep, I tried to help, but you started shooting at me and made me take my attention from him.”
    His eyes widened.  “I killed my brother,” he started crying.  “You won’t leave me to the wolves?  You’ll bury me!”
    “I’ll stay until you’re dead.  Tough life, livin’ on this side of the law.  Tell me, Merker behind this?”
    “Yes,” he groaned.  “I’m thirsty.”
    “You better be makin’ your peace with the Almighty.”
    His eyes widened further, “Too late.”  He clutched at his stomach.
    “Never too late until your dead,” I urged.  Then came the sounds of the wolves, howling and I could hear them outside the canvas…

Echoes From the Campfire

When trouble strikes close to home, it makes a person see things in a whole new light.”
              –Lou Bradshaw (True North)

    “Happy is the one who is always reverent, but one who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”
              –Proverbs 28:14 (HCSB)
This is a hard Psalm.  Who has a chance against God?  The fool doesn’t think He exists, and the rest of the human race is a mess; they don’t seek God, they turn from God.  Some may say they seek God, just look at me on Sunday, but do they know the real august, almighty God?  If we did, don’t you think our actions would change?  Let’s take a quick look at Psalm 14 from the HCSB.

              1 The fool says in his heart, “God does not exist.” They are corrupt; they do vile deeds. There is no one who does good.
              2 The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race to see if there is one who is wise,one who seeks God.
              3 All have turned away; all alike have become corrupt.  There is no one who does good, not even one.
              4 Will evildoers never understand?  They consume My people as they consume bread; they do not call on the Lord.
              5 Then they will be filled with terror, for God is with those who are righteous.
              6 You sinners frustrate the plans of the afflicted, but the Lord is his refuge.
              7 Oh, that Israel’s deliverance would come from Zion!  When the Lord restores the fortunes of His people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

    This Psalm deals primarily with the “fool;” the person who does not believe that God exists.  There are several words in Scripture for “fool.”  
              “pethi” — a silly ass
              “kesil” — a stupid person
              “ewil”  — an idiot
              “holel” — the complete fool
              “nablul” — impious
              “lets” — the sneerer, the arrogant free-thinker

The NLT states, “only fools say in their hearts, ‘There is no God.”  Look at the news, listen to what people say about God, how they try to take God out of the picture.  You can put any one of those terms and match it with them.  The fool!  But go on in that verse.  It states that the fool is “corrupt.”  In this place it means, “gone putrid.”  Have you ever picked up a rotten apple off the ground?  Yuck–well that is the fool–putrid.
              “their actions are evil” (NLT)
              “their deed are vile” (NIV)
              “they do abominable deeds” (RSV)
    God looks down on the fool, and the whole human race.  Looking, looking for one who is truly seeking Him.  Someone who wants to live righteously.  But all are corrupt.  And the fool especially for he is the one who is in danger of rejecting and scorning God’s Word. (see Romans 1-2)
    The fools, the evildoers are ones who afflict those who do call upon God.  They will one day be filled with terror.  I had to laugh at an interview I saw where a woman said that the “red hat (MAGA) terrified her.”  She doesn’t know the meaning of terror.  When that day arrives, the day of the Lord, there will be real terror on the earth.  Now is the time to seek Him, to take on His robe of righteousness.
    Because of this type of people culture and society is in danger.  If a person does not believe in God all, notice all, have become evil.  They cannot do a good deed, for even if it seems that way it is done with selfish motives or with the approval of the devil.  Someone once said, “Without society, man rots; without God, society rots.”
    John Newton was a miserable person.  His life was despicable:  drunk, filthy language, sexually abusive to women, brutalize slaves–everything about him was foul, but as he writes, “I see no reason why the Lord singled me out for mercy–unless it was to show that with him nothing is impossible.”  And what did he write, those words that even the “fool” recognizes, but will not hearken to.

              “Amazing grace!  how sweet the sound
               That saves a wretch like me!
               I once was lost but now am found,
               Was blind but now I see.”

Ponder this prayer and make it your own:  “Lord, be present in every moment of my life, in every thought, word, and deed.  May I never say, ‘The Lord does not see; the Lord does not know.'” (George O. Wood)