Echoes From the Campfire

He is a man, born to poverty and hard work, weaned on nothing, fed on less, raised to make to do with least possible and make the most of that.”
              –Jack Schaefer  (“Stubby Pringle’s Christmas”)

    “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire; that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”
              –Revelation 3:18 (NKJV)
Greetings from Maryland!  I have often thought, while looking up at the stars that friends and family would be looking up at those same stars.  When the sun rises and sets, friends and family are looking at the same sunrise and sunset.  The same is true, and this includes even those in the southern hemisphere.  What men stand most in need of is the knowledge of God.  The world is in a mess because man follows his own inclinations rather than seek the Creator.
    Oh, some may have a knowledge of the Ten Commandments and some of the parables.  Maybe a few of the psalms float through their minds and they may recall pieces from the Sermon on the Mount, but few seek and search for God.  Some people try to be moral and through that think they might find God, rather than the other way around–the person who finds God will become moral.
God is wanting and waiting for man to seek Him.  Ponder the words of the French theologian–Fenelon.

         “He is, in all things, infinite–in wisdom power and love–and what wonder, if everything that comes from his hand should partake of the same infinite character and set at nought the efforts of human reason.  When He works, His ways and His thought are declared by the prophet to be as far above our ways and our thoughts as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:9).  He makes no effort when He would execute what He has decreed; for to Him all things are equally easy; He speaks and causes the heavens and the earth to be created out of nothing, with as little difficulty as he causes water to descend or a stone to fall to the ground.  His power is co-extensive with His will; when He wills, the thing is already accomplished…  His mercy, too, is but His pure will; He loved us before the creation of the world; He saw and knew us, and prepared His blessings for us; He loved and chose us from all Eternity.  Every new blessing we received is derived from this Eternal origin; He forms no new will respecting us; it is not He that changes, but we.  When we are righteous and good, we are conformable to His will and agreeable to Him; when we depart from well doing and cease to be good, we cease to be conformable to Him and to please Him….  Mercy is the goodness of God, beholding our wickedness and striving to make us good….  From Him alone proceeds true goodness; alas! for that presumptuous soul that seeks it in itself!  It is God’s love towards us that gives us everything; but the richest of His gifts is that we may love Him with that love which is His due.  When He is able by His love to produce that love in us, He reigns within; He constitutes there our life, our peace, our happiness, and we then already begin to taste that blissful existence which He enjoys.  His love towards us is stamped with His own character of infinity:  it is not like ours, bounded and constrained; when He loves, all the measures of His love are infinite….  He loves like a God, with a love utterly incomprehensible.”

We can only gain a glimpse of who God is.  We only receive a bit of His infinite, boundless love that He showed on the Cross.  Yet, we are to become more like Him.  To do that we must be in His Word, we must seek Him through prayer, meditation, and living a sanctified life.  

Echoes From the Campfire

I had shared more than a few campfires.  We each knew what needed to be done and did our part without direction or complaint.”
              –Lou Bradshaw  (Rubio)

    “We should be decent and true in everything we do, so that everyone can approve of our behavior.  Don’t participate in wild parties and getting drunk, or in adultery and immoral living, or in fighting and jealousy.  But let the Lord Jesus Christ take control of you, and don’t think of ways to indulge your evil desires.”
              –Romans 13:13-14 (NLT)
Working on gettin’ the ol’ steel wagon packed and ready to get on the trail.  The “Echoes” may be sporadic for the next few weeks as I’m headin’ out east.  Sometimes those easterners don’t take kindly to our Texas ways, and I’m a-thinkin’ it may be true of their computer waves as well.
    It’s time to be seein’ my eldest daughter and her family.  We’re draggin’ Emmalee along with us–guess I can use her to change a tire if needed.  But she’s a pretty good travelin’ companion; knows what’s expected to be done.  Now with that introduction I reckon I’ll just pass on a few tidbits that I’ve come across.
         “The everlasting God has in his wisdom foreseen from eternity the cross that he now presents you as a gift from his inmost heart.  The cross he now sends you he has considered with his all-knowing eyes, understood with his divine mind, tested with his wise justice, warmed with his loving arms, and weighed with his loving hands to see that it be not one inch too large and not one ounce too heavy for you.  He has…taken one last glance at you and your courage, and then sent it to you from heaven…alms of the all-merciful love of God.”
                     –Francis de Sales
    Every morning I read a wonderful devotion penned by Richard Dresselhaus that is called “One for the Road” and since we’re getting ready to hit the road I wanted to share one.  It’s wise words that we should all take to heart whether traveling across town or across country, or on the journey of life.
         “Be sure.  Those two words put urgency into a request.
          Be sure to drive safely.  Be sure to pay your bills on time.  Be sure to watch your step.
          God uses these words.  ‘…be sure that you obey all the decrees and laws I am setting before you today.’
          ‘Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do…’
          ‘But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully…’
          Some things are optional–but some things are essential.  Some things are arbitrary–but other things are mandatory.
          Obedience to God’s commands are neither optional or arbitrary.  They are essential and mandatory.
          Many decisions have built-in flexibility.  You can use preference.  The call is yours.
          But…when it comes to obedience to God–be sure you obey.”
Here are a few thoughts to ponder from Sam P. Jones a fiery, Methodist preacher of the late 1800s.

    “Some of us profess to be servants of the Lord, but work for the devil, and come around at the end of the week and want the Lord to pay for our services.”

    “Stagnation is the last station this side of Damnation.  You can’t go beyond Stagnation without going on to Damnation.”

    “What I love and what I hate will determine what I am now and what I will be forever.”
Here’s one more to keep you until I write the next Echo.
    Once there was a preacher, while holding a revival in Texas, was staying in the home of an old man.  The old man kept bragging about the great state of Texas.  The elder minister listened until he finally had enough and just had to comment.  “From the way you talk, a person might come to think that Jesus was a Texan.”
    The old man hesitated, pulled at his moustache, then stroked his chin and thoughtfully replied, “No, but he was good enough to be a Texan.”

Echoes From the Campfire

One man is a small thing, and does not matter very much.  It is how a man lives that matters, and how he dies.  A man can live proudly, and he can die proudly.”
             –Louis L’Amour  (Callaghen)

    “…They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise…”
             –Hebrews 11:38-39 (NKJV)
When I was a kid I devoured biographies.  I read almost every biography in our elementary libraries and most of them in the junior high.  Reading about the accomplishments and strong character of others fascinated me, inspired me, motivated me.  It’s not the same today, for most biographies seek more to tear down and to exhort.  They care little about their readers and the impact that the person’s life may have.  Most people, with at least a little common sense, will recognize that the people they are reading about are not perfect.
    Recently I read an article by George Matheson.  Believe it or not, it caused me to stop and ponder.  My mind went back to the church growing up and perhaps once a month on a Sunday or Wednesday night the Pastor would ask if anyone had a testimony.  Sure some of them might be on the humorous side or even mundane, but I liked to hear of what the Lord was doing in the lives of the saints.  In our youth group, once in a while, we would have what was called “popcorn testimony.”  A person would pop up with a testimony and they would choose the next person, and on it would go.
    With the idea of personal testimonies in mind, let me draw your attention to Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; Yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his descendants begging bread.” (NKJV) Matheson presents the question, “Who is the ‘I’ that speaks?  From what I can tell it is a psalm of David, but it almost sounds like he is speaking of an anonymous person.  If it is David, it has to be toward the end of his life.
    But think with me a moment of the idea of anonymity.  Put it in modern terms–this could be a baker, or a truck driver.  It could be a housewife or cashier at the grocery store.  Maybe the person was talking or texting to a distressed neighbor.  Matheson puts it this way, “Many have uttered songs of faith, but this is not a song of faith, it is a song of retrospect; it is the retrospect of an obscure man, a nobody, and that is its value.  It claims no authority but experience; it appeals to no testimony but fact…”.
    People don’t care much about the common man, but think a minute, that is what most of us are.  We’re just common folk, living from day to day in the care of the Lord.  No one asks the common man to give their experience of that every day life.  Possibly the most important thing to contemplate from this passage–could you make the same statement?  Could you say, “I have always found God to be good to me?
    We live in a time where we are told to look forward, to forget the past.  We are to be progressive, not longing for the days of yore.  The past holds us back, and we are to be positive in our approach to the future.  Oh, my friend, where does the testimony come from?  It does not come from the future, for it has not happened yet.  It is what God has done for us in the past that gives us hope and confidence that He will be with us tomorrow.
    Once more, I draw from Matheson, “Hope may flicker, for an hour it may even expire; but memory is stereotyped; it is a fact; it is a monument; it is unaffected by clouds; it is independent of night or day.  I may lose the star of to-morrow, but not the green patch of yesterday.  No progress can wash away that record of the past, ‘I have not seen the righteous forsaken.'”
    Should I end with “Selah,” or just a plain old archaic term, “Hallelujah!”?

Echoes From the Campfire

The night darkened, the air cooled, the camp fire flickered out.  Rock crawled into his blankets under the widespread cedar.  The soft feel of wool, the hard ground, the smell of cedar, the twinkle of a star through the branches, the moan of rising night wind, the lonesome coyote bark, and the silence—how good they were and how they recalled other days!”
              –Zane Grey  (Sunset Pass)

    “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.”
              –John 12:46 (NKJV)
Most people don’t realize how short life really is until it flashes before them in some way or they have reached old age.  Time is swift–believe you me.  What we do with the Lord is what is important during the time we are on earth.  Ponder the words of this old hymn, and then take a search of the New Testament of the term, “abide.”

         “Abide with me:  fast falls the eventide;
          The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!
          When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
          Help of the helpless, O abide with me.”
                  –Henry F. Lyte

There is no one like Jesus; He will never fail.  Others may be there for a while, some may fail you when needed, but the Lord–never!  Whether it be at the end of life or the end of the day, the Lord is there to comfort, guide, and protect.  He never changes; He is always faithful; He will ever be with us.

         “Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
          Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
          Change and decay in all around I see,
          O Thou, who changest not, abide with me.”

Not only is He with us at the end of life, and at the end of each passing day, but His presence is with us each hour.  When the devil threatens with his fiery darts, the Lord is there.  When the hour is full of fog and mist, the Lord is there to grasp our hand and guide us through.  No matter the weather or the season, He is there.

         “I need Thy presence every passing hour;
          What but Thy grace, can foil the tempter’s power?
          Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
          Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.”

With the Lord with us we can face each hour and each day with hope and victory.  We have nothing to fear as we go through this life.  Suffering, sorrow, pain, and anguish have no hold on us and when we face the grave we can boldly say, “where is thy sting?”  Victory is ours, but only when we realize that Jesus is there, and abides with us in every circumstance of life.

         “I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
          Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
          Where is death’s sting?  Where, grave, thy victory?
          I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.”

The cross, oh, the cross of Jesus, what joyful bliss even though at the time He faces pain and agony.  The cross is to us salvation.  Because of His death we can face eternity with hope and gladness.  When the shadow of death comes over us there is the light of heaven shining through.  No matter, “in life, in death,” the Lord is there.

         “Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
          Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies:
          Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
          In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”

Notice the word that ties everything in each of these verses together–“Abide.”  We need to abide in Him; we are the branches, He is the vine.  However, we may forget to pray for Him to abide with us.  In every dark hour we face on earth, we need Him to be there.  Through the gloom, the storms, the sunshine, He is there abiding; therefore, there is no dread along the way.