The Saga of Miles Forrest

Well,” he said wiping his chin with his fingers, “do you think this jasper, Johnson knows Merker?”
    I scratched my head.  “Doc, I’ve been thinkin’ and ponderin’ then came back to thinkin’ again and I just don’t know.  The more I think the more I believe that he worked with Utley or Uttleman, or Smith, whoever the gunman was.  It was that guy who knew Merker.”
    As we sat there, Doc wiping his whiskered chin and me pulling at my moustache, we just sort of stared in our coffee cups.  There was a little left in my cup, I swirled it around a couple of times and swallowed it.  It made me grimace some as it had gotten cold.  I started to get up when Doc interrupted me.
    “Here, here, you sit there and frown and ponder some more.  Don’t be doing any of that thinking.  I’ll pour your cup full,”
he said as he went to the stove for the pot.
    He started pouring, when in the door walked Charlie with Judge Klaser.  Doc turned his attention to them and in that movement missed my cup with the coffee.
    “Hey!” I yelped.  “You need customers that badly that you’d scald a man?”
    Edith must have heard us from the kitchen for she came rushing out.  “What in heaven’s name!” she exclaimed.  She saw the spill on the table and went back for a rag.
    “Good thing you got some in my cup before you went to spillin’ the rest of it,” I muttered as Edith was back with a rag and wiped off the table.
    “Give me that pot!” She reached and took it from Doc’s hand.  “I’ll make some more.”
    She started for the kitchen and before she turned the corner.  “You sure you know how to make it?” I said raising my voice just a little.
    With that she turned and glared at me.  I put up my arm just in case she was going to throw the pot at me.  I looked over at Doc as he was pulling out his chair to sit down.
    “Doc, she like that often?” I said half-seriously.
    He looked around sheepishly the muttered, “Miles, you don’t know the half of it.”
    Charlie and the Judge were standing there watching our antics.  “Can we sit?” asked Judge Klaser.  “I sure wanted a cup of coffee.”
    “Now don’t you start,” I warned.  That brought a chuckle from him.
    The Judge started right off and looked at me.  “Miles, I can easily hold this fellow Johnson over for the federal court.  He’d probably get a couple of years,” he paused and looked toward the kitchen.  “Do you think he knows anything about your nemesis Merker?”
    Shrugging my shoulders I answered, “I really don’t know.  Perhaps he knows something, but maybe he doesn’t know Merker by name.  Listen…”
    Edith was bounding back, making her footsteps clomp on the wooden floor.  “Hello Judge, Sheriff Gold…” she poured them each a cup of the fresh coffee.  Looking at Doc first, then over at me she glared and barked, “Give me your cups!”  She filled each of them.  The coffee, was dark and steaming.  After she finished filling our cups she put it on the stove.  “See if that suits you,” she said somewhat softer and walked to the table next to ours and sat down.
    Doc and I looked at each other, then we looked at Charlie and the Judge.  They hadn’t tasted their coffee yet.  In silent agreement we all lifted our cups, took a sniff first, then a sip with a swallow.  None of us choked, gagged, or spit up so we all took another sip, this time a little deeper.  I glanced over at Edith and smiled.
    “Back to Merker,” said the Judge.
    I took one more full swallow and then said, “Turn him loose.  I’ll follow him around for a while.  See if he does anything suspicious.”
    Looking at Charlie I asked, “Did Uttleman have any money on him?”
    “Some, but not the amount we’ve been seeing on the others that have come for you.”
    “This guy’s been on my hide now for more’n a couple of years.  It’s high time I found him,” I stopped and pulled at my moustache.  “Hmmm.”
    “Hmmm, what?” asked Doc.
    “Perhaps I need to rattle the cage of the other man I met back in Pueblo–a Mister Myers,” I offered and finished my coffee.  “I’ll be back, I need to send out a couple of telegrams.  One to the warden in Canon City and the other to my friend Dave Cook in Denver.”  
    I got up and started for the door.  As I was exiting, I almost bumped into Marta.  Molly was bringing her in to see the surroundings.  I tipped my hat at Marta, “Marta,” and then to Molly.  “I’ll be right back.”

Echoes From the Campfire

A man is like a watermelon; you can’t most generally tell how good he is till you thump him.”
              –William MacLeod Raine  (Crooked Trails and Straight)

    “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?  It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out.  He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
              –Luke 14:34-35 (NKJV)
Sometimes the distresses of life can unnerve us.  That’s one reason why the Lord doesn’t allow us to see tomorrow.  We know not what tomorrow may bring, thank the Lord.  However, rest assured that when tomorrow becomes today that the Lord is with you.  Don’t get bound by the fear of tomorrow.  An old Scottish Psalter puts it this way:

         “Now save us, Lord, from slavish fear;
          No let our hope be firm and strong,
          Till thy salvation shall appear
          And joy and triumph raise the song.”

Psalm 20 (HCSB) is a great psalm to aid us in getting rid of those fears that might enslave us.  This psalm was used on the occasion of David going off to war.

         1 – May Yahweh answer you in a day of trouble; may the name of Jacob’s God protect you.
         2 – May He send you help from the sanctuary and sustain you from Zion.
         3 – May He remember all your offerings and accept your burnt offering.  Selah
         4 – May He give you what your heart desires and fulfill your whole purpose.
         5 – Let us shout for joy at your victory and lift the banner in the name of our God.  May Yahweh fulfill all your requests.
         6 – Now I know that the Lord gives victory to His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with mighty victories from His right hand.
         7 – Some take pride in chariots, and others in horses, but we take pride in the name of Yahweh our God.
         8 – They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand firm.
         9 – Lord, give victory to the king!  May He answer us on the day that we call.

Have you read the first chapter of Job where he gave sacrifices for his children, just in case, they were neglectful.  God sees our sacrifices and remembers them.  It is also important to understand that He knows the motives behind them, and the heart that gave them.  It was customary to give sacrifices before going into battle, “just in case.”
    When going to face a foe you should gather as much information about the enemy as you can, about his strength, and never overestimate it.  However, it is more important that you do not underestimate the power of the Lord.  Raise high your banner, and be ready to add to it.  Banners symbolize battles fought and victories won.  Going to face the time of trouble, the foe of today, lift high the banner of the Lord and be ready to add another victory to it.
    Life has a mission and there are many campaigns that must be fought until the end.  Within each of those campaigns there may be several battles–battles that rage, battles of different types.  It is the mission that is important and to fulfill the demands of the mission of life we must depend upon the Lord’s help and strength.  If we do that we surely cannot fail.

              “The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story and instead writes another.  His saddest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”
                           –James Barrie

Coffee Percs

I poured a full cup from the soot-covered coffeepot.  Blew on and sipped at the kind of belly wash that’s grow hair on a saddle.”
                 –J. Lee Butts (Ambushed)

Sit yurself Pard.  That ol’ codger J. Lee makes some strong coffee.  I’ve been told that mine is strong, but don’t think it’s ever been compared to Miracle-Gro or any other type of fertilizer.  Hmmm, might try it though as I need to be gettin’ some grass growin’ in the yard.  Say, wonder if yuh rubbed on yur scalp it’d help some of those folks with thin hair.  ‘Course the way some are, they couldn’t get any growin’ up on top for grass sure ‘nough won’t grow thro’ the concrete.  You go ahead an’ take a sip; made some of that Black Gold.
    That makes me think, an’ that’s a chore sometimes.  When I glance at the news, which is rare, or go traipsin’ out I find that there are plenty of hard-headed folk out there.  Yuh couldn’t get common sense blasted in their noggin’ with a stick of dinymite.  But, on the other hand, there’s sure plenty of the other kind as well–those with empty heads; why yuh can hear the nuts an’ bolts just rattlin’ ’round.  My Mom, bless her heart, used to park in downtown Boulder.  I’d ask her what she was doin’ and she would just say, watchin’ people.  Maybe that’s what she was tryin’ to figure out–which ones were hard-headed and which ones were empty-headed.
    How does that coffee suit yuh?  I was tempted to make it the way the ol’ coosie taught me, but then instead of growin’ hair, if’n yuh spilt it on the table it might take off the varnish.  Hate to see, if it would remove hair.  Say, just saw a glance where the new Jeopardy champ said that he didn’t think he could handle a 9-5 job.  Sure would hate to have him out on range with us back in the day.
    Ha, back in the day; now ain’t that the truth.  Lots of changes, and for the most part the majority of them ain’t so good than they were back in the day.  Joints ache too, well, back in the day that didn’t happen.  We sure ‘nough need to check our backtrail now an’ then, but it don’t do us no good to sit and stare.
    Hope the coffee was to yur satisfaction this mornin’.  Me an’ the missus are fixin’ to head out to see the daughter.  She’s havin’ one of them garage sales.  You have to walk carefully ’round those things; yuh know that’s where they discard old things.  Ha, not to say yur old Pard, but if’n yuh don’t check yur cinch when yur out ridin’ all sorts of things might happen.  

Echoes From the Campfire

Nature and God would take care of the slackers.”
              –Zane Grey  (The Call of the Canyon)

       “Study and be eager and do your utmost to present yourself to God approved (tested by trial), a workman who has no cause to be ashamed, correctly analyzing and accurately dividing [rightly handling and skillfully teaching] the Word of Truth.”
              –2 Timothy 2:15 (AMPC)
Several years ago I had the opportunity to work with the Freeway Forest Assembly of God Royal Ranger program.  Through the guidance of Wilton Christopher an exceptional program was developed.  Every year we took trips with the older boys: Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Tennessee to name a few.  There was no real fear in taking these boys for they had developed the skills needed to survive in the wilderness if need be; they could take care of their commanders if an accident occurred.  We had confidence in them, and they trusted us.
    In that same program, at a different church and a few years later, I had the opportunity to instruct boys in survival skills.  They knew the essentials of how to live in a wilderness environment.  Today however, we live in a different world.  No longer do many know these skills, they do not know the spiritual survival skills.  They do not know the essentials of the Bible.  How in the world are they going to defeat the enemy of their souls and the world system that so intent on their destruction?
    If people find themselves in the wasteland of the wilderness for more than a day, and even one day may be enough to do some of them in, you had better be prepared to survive.  Some may die in one day because of injuries, hypothermia, sun stroke, or a hundred other calamities.  The largest part of survival is to be prepared.  If people are prepared, they have a decent chance to overcome the obstacles they might face.
It is better to be prepared and never need to use your skills than to find yourself in a bad situation and not know what to do.
    But I might also add, that one of the main reasons that people find themselves in a wilderness is simply because they were not already prepared; not knowing their way, not knowing what to do, not knowing how to read a compass, and they become lost.  Being lost in the wilderness can be frightful!  Fear of what lies ahead or what might be following them, or the fear of the unknown–a major factor in the wilderness–may bring destruction.  Fear can debilitate and paralyze.  The key to dealing with fear is to have courage, which some have described as the “control of fear.”
    Fear in itself is not so devastating, but that uncontrolled fear often leads to panic.  Panic is destructive.  Wasted energy, irrational thinking, and a pessimistic outlook are all products of panic.  Maybe the greatest product of panic is loss of hope.  With the loss of hope, the will to survive begins to break down.
    No matter the type of wilderness a person finds themselves in, the loss of hope is devastating.  Even with all the fear, panic, and lack of hope currently prevailing in this world, the Christians should be prepared to meet it.  The Christian should be able to take heart, not panic, and overcome.
    In one sense the whole of life is a wilderness, and the believer is just passing through.  We are wandering, looking for a city whose builder and maker is God.  Wandering through this wilderness called “life,” or called “earth,” many challenges arise, but the lack of hope should not be one of them.  While others are aimless in their despair, the believer survives, looking upward to the Hope that is in our Redeemer.  When natural fear begins to bring on a panic attack look to the Author and Finisher of your faith and have hope.  When trials and temptations reach out to grip your mind and heart with their searching tentacles remember the words of Paul to the Corinthians, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NKJV)
    Therefore, learn the tools of survival, understand how to use your equipment.  Learn the dangers of the wilderness in which you are traveling; learn the snares of the devil so you can detect and avoid them.  Above all, never lose hope; it is the first great tool of survival.
(Much of this is taken from my book–Trails in the Wilderness)