Echoes From the Campfire

Sometimes you have to get through today the best you can and trust tomorrow to the Lord.”
              –Elmer Kelton  (Badger Boy)

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”
              –Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)
Again, I will say we don’t thank the Lord enough.  We need to praise Him more:  for who He is, for what He has done, and for what He is going to do.  We could get into a discussion about what praise is, but I like the simple words of G.S. Bowes.  He said that praise is, “The rent we owe God.  And the larger the farm, the greater the rent should be.”  
    Let’s finish looking at Psalm 30 (HCSB) today, and see if we can glean something from it that will enrich our lives.

    8 – Lord, I called to You; I sought favor from my Lord:
    9 – “What gain is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit?  Will the dust praise You?  Will it proclaim Your truth?
   10 – Lord, listen and be gracious to me; Lord, be my helper.”
   11 – You turned my lament into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
   12 – so that I can sing to You and not be silent.  Lord my God, I will praise You forever.

David is not challenging God in verse 9.  He is simply stating that when he dies he will no longer be able to lift his voice in praise.  His life will be gone; it is now, while he is still living that he can praise the Lord.  While we are still living we should be praising God, for when death and darkness come there is no praise.

         “Walk in the light, and e’en the tomb
          No fearful shade shall wear.
          Glory shall chase away its gloom,
          For Christ hath conquered there.”
                –Bernard Barton

Oh, but you say, in heaven we shall praise Him.  Yes, that is true, but why wait until after you are placed in the tomb?  We are to know our purpose now, and therefore, by knowing it we should be glorifying God in it.  We should be glorifying/praising/giving thanks in all situations.  
    Again, in this psalm we recognize the importance of lifestyle.  A lifestyle of praise is true worship.  How you live reflects how you see God.  I truly believe that we praise God now for His blessing, but when we get to heaven most of our praise will be in recognition of who He is and it will be that of thankfulness.  David realized that for he said he would “praise God forever.”
    Maybe our prayer could be that given by George O. Wood, “There is no pit, Lord, so deep that Your arm can’t reach me.  You are gripping me strongly today, and I thank You that You will not let go.  I know You will pull me all the way up and out, that the length of joy You give will more than compensate for any temporary season of sorrow.”

Coffee Percs

There was a pot of stew and he ate hungrily, then ate from a stack of tortillas.  Then he sat down, looking at the moonlight’s refection on the dark water, listening to the night sounds and drinking coffee.”
              –Louis L’Amour  (The Burning Hills)

Whatcha lookin’ up in the sky for, Pard?  It ain’t gonna rain, though we surely need it.  I don’t reckon yur listenin’ for those heavenly hoofbeats either.  Just waitin’ for me to open the door an’ invite yuh in; well, if that’s all, get yurself in here.  The pot’s on the stove; I’ll get the cups.
    I been ponderin’, and after readin’ what that ol’ hombre L’Amour wrote I’m sure I’m right.  I don’t think, no, I’m positively positive that we don’t thank the Lord enough.  We don’t tell Him that we appreciate all that we have, and how grateful we are for His keepin’ and guidin’ us.  Why, just look at that cup in yur hand.  Be thankful for it, and be thankful that yuh can hold it.  Jist think, it yuh couldn’t hold it, or if yuh didn’t have it, how would yuh be drinkin’ yur coffee?
And there’s another thing–how thankful for yuh for the pot in which it was brewed, and for the coffee itself.  Ahhh, jist yuh take a sip now.
    Now, I know that we don’t have to be sittin’ ’round thankin’ the Lord about every little thing, but sometimes, it might jist do us a world of good if we would.  Remember that ol’ song we sang so much in church, “Count your blessin’s name them one by one…”? Here’s what I’m tellin’ yuh, Pard.  Take time an’ thank the good Lord for all His blessin’s to yuh.  
    We need to be thankin’ and a fightin’… fightin’ the good fight.  Thank the Lord for the opportunity He gave yuh to be fightin’ the fight of faith.  Whooee, now there’s somethin’ to be ponderin’!
    We’ll be headin’ on up to that eastern state of Maryland next week.  Plan on stoppin’ at a roundup in Louisiana if’n things goes as planned.  Now, you take seriously what I was a sayin’.  Thank the Lord that yuh remembered to tighten yur cinch; thank the Lord He put a cinch on that saddle or else yuh would be findin’ yurself layin’ on the ground somewhere.

Echoes From the Campfire

Meanness can buck me off, but only death can keep me from crawlin’ back up in the saddle.”
              –Stephen Bly  (The Long Trail Home)

    “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.”
              –2 Peter 1:10 (NKJV)
I can remember it well; I was walking not far behind him when all of a sudden the colleague went face-forward.  He fell flat on flat on his face.  Fortunately, no bones were broken, but blood was coming from his mouth and nose.  We have all taken tumbles and sometimes have fallen smack-dab on our face or the reverse.  There was no real reason I could see that he should fall, then I found out that he had an old injury that caused his knees to give out.
    What is it that makes a person stumble?  I mean to flat out fall down.  It may be that they do not pay attention, it may be from a previous injury, it may even be that someone else caused it.  We read in Ezekiel that “idols set up in the heart” causes men to stumble (14:3)  There may be a combination of things; things of which we should be aware of but didn’t pay attention to.  A few weeks back, if you recall, I mentioned that I fell.  I had been working, sawing some wood and was overheated–didn’t pay attention or follow the proper procedure of keeping hydrated.  I got up too quickly–didn’t take it slow and easy.  I didn’t look down and my boot caught the edge of the patio stone–didn’t pick up my feet, the dummy.  Plus the fact that it was very hot.  You add these all together and you have a cause to fall.
    I have known people to fall off roofs, to fall off ladders, stools, and chairs.  Most of these incidents/accidents most likely could have been avoided by taking better precaution.  Let me relate something that happened to me.  I was painting the underside of an eave on the church roof.  The ladder was almost straight up.  As I climbed I thought what happens if this ladder falls?  I had a plan.  Maybe I shouldn’t have thought about it, but the ladder fell, with me riding it down.  I flung the paint can out in the street, and thought to myself that I had to place my hands between the steps on the ladder and not underneath (amazing what a person can think of in less than a second).  No damage to me, some paint on the carpet in front of the church and a big splash out in the middle of the street.  Hmmm, since then I have been cautious of heights.
    How many have slipped?  I can remember slipping many times on the icy sidewalks and streets during a cold spell when I was a kid.  Sometimes it was from horseplay, sometimes it just happened.  The worse slip I can recall, was the time I had just cleaned up the garage and cleaned the floor with bleach.  I forgot that bleach is slick.  I came back in the garage, not thinking, and all of a sudden my feet went up in the air.  I remember trying to catch myself, (too bad someone didn’t have a video), but there I went – SPLAT!  I wasn’t hurt, thank the Lord, but it could have been very dangerous.  Sin is like that, one slip can spell disaster–remember Achan.
    Then there are the times we stumble.  Have you noticed that we rarely stumble going uphill?  I recall two occasions when I stumbled, hit the ground, and continued to roll.  Once was when I was jogging down a mountain path.  Again, not paying close attention by foot caught a rock or root and there I went, on down the path and over the side.  Again nothing serious, just some scrapes and scratches.  The other time was in elementary school and for some reason I missed the step or slipped on a step and went down a dozen or so steps.  In these cases one can’t stop themselves as momentum builds up.  Sin is the same way, if we stumble, often the momentum carries us down further and further.
    Now, stop and ponder–how do these relate to my spiritual walk?  Do we not pay attention to things and become nonchalant and lackadaisical?  Do we not pick up our feet and begin to shuffle in our walk with the Lord?  Have we become careless in what we are doing, in our walk, in our spiritual exercises?  Did we fall because we did not take proper precaution?  Maybe the fall came about because we did something wrong.  There was a time I was riding my bike down a hill holding a sack of groceries.  Something, I don’t recall what, made me grab the brake.  It was a three-speed with hand brakes.  The brake I gripped was the front brake and over the handlebars I flew, groceries and all and skidded down the road a few yards.  Lesson learned:  hold the sack in the other arm.  
    Falls, slips, tumbles, and stumbles are bound to happen.  We need to be in the Word of God to help us; that became the conclusion of the writer of Psalm 119, “Great peace have those who love Your law, And nothing causes them to stumble.” (14 NKJV)  Be alert, be aware, be cautious, be knowledgeable be in the Word of God and let Jesus help you up. Now, get back up, dust yourself off, and get going–again!

Echoes From the Campfire

It was his attitude, however, that always carried him through troubles.”
              –Robert J. Thomas  (The Reckoning)

    “And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in reverence during this time of temporary residence.”
              –1 Peter 1:17 (HCSB)
Many years ago, a good friend of mine who was a Marine wrote in a book he gave me when I left Baton Rouge.  Since that time I have transcribed it into my Bible.  C.J. certainly understood the words of Paul, and whether a person served in Asia or another continent the words still ring true.

         “For we don’t want you to be unaware, brothers, of our affliction that took place in the province of Asia:  we were completely over-whelmed–beyond our strength–so that we even despaired of life.”
                    –2 Corinthians 1:8 (HCSB)

War, conflict, battles can bring one quickly to despair.  Life itself can be a struggle.  It may be from a device planted in the road that explodes while the vehicle in which you are riding hits it.  It may be that while you are ready to throw a phosphorus grenade and bullet hits it while still in your hand and you are burned beyond recognition as in the case of Dave Roever.  It may be while in the depths of the jungle, in your foxhole and enemy crawls in during the night and you must fight for your life.  Take all of these and transfer them to the spiritual.  The devil is trying to destroy, maim, kill, and raise havoc in your life.
    I have made it a point to study the lives and conditions of the POWs in Vietnam.  I have several books and have talked with a few of these stalwart men.  It so happened that this week, in my devotions, I came across the story of Ralph Gaither.  I have his book, “With God In A POW Camp.”  In the devotion it was mentioned that he “thought he had faith, but after months in the camp he felt it wasn’t working.  He prayed for physical relief from his suffering, but only felt the cold, the hunger, and the pain more intensely.  He tried to thank God for what he had, but found himself hating everything–his cell, the darkness, the guards, the pitiful food–with growing intensity.  God did not seem to be listening.”  (Larkin Spivey)
    One day, he remember the words of his favorite hymn, “Amazing Grace.”  For three days, he was on his knees praying.  During his prayers his thoughts went to Job, his suffering, and through all of it he never lost his faith.  Gaither came to the point where he said, “I had a confidence in my heart that told me God would give me the strength and patience I needed.”
    Another prisoner, Robinson Risner, wrote in his book “The Passing of the Night” (which I believe everyone should read, and read again) “To make it, I prayed by the hour.  It was automatic, almost subconscious.  I did not ask God to take me out of it.  I prayed he would give me strength to endure it.  When it would get so bad that I did not think I could stand it, I would ask God to ease it and somehow I would make it.  He kept me.”
    No matter the situation that you find yourself in, God is there.  It may not be actual combat or the conditions of a POW, but you are in dire straits of one thing or another.  God is there.  Never give up, not matter the adversity.  In these times, do not try to do penance to get God to hear you; He does not need your good deeds.  He simply wants you to grasp hold of His amazing grace.