Echoes From the Campfire

Nobody in his right mind invites difficulties, you simply cope with those that do arise.  But you don’t try to avoid your duties.”
              –Louis L’Amour  (The Californios)

    “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
              –Ephesians 2:10(NKJV)
Last Sunday I heard a very good sermon about one of the signs of the end.  The words of Jesus tell us that there were two servants.  That means they were serving the same Master.  One was working diligently, looking for the coming of the Master and he is referred to as the “good servant.”  The other servant wondered where the Master was and declared that the Master had delayed His coming.  Remember, this was a servant of the Master, but is now called the “evil servant” and is beating his fellow servants and drinking with the drunkards (i.e., sinners).  He is carousing, having a “good time”, not looking for the Master.  Notice the severe words of Jesus,

         “The master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
                  –Matthew 24:50-51 (NKJV)

    What a sad ending.  A person who knew what the Master was like, but when the Master left followed the dictates of his own selfish heart.  The Master is delayed, so let me party-hardy.  See, the Master did come back and found him not looking for His coming–caught him unawares.
    I have been reading in 1 Samuel and the message Sunday made me think of the events at the beginning of the book.  Eli is there, the priest who had also judged Israel forty years.  He had two sons who would follow him in the priesthood, Hophni and Phinehas.  The Bible says that they were very corrupt and did not know the Lord.  Think of that.  They were in line to become priests, to offer the sacrifices, yet they did not even know the Lord.
    There is a harsh statement concerning the two men and their father, Eli.  It was prophesied that they both would die on the same day.  The reason–because they made themselves vile, but it doesn’t stop there, their father did nothing to restrain them.  The result was that when the ark was captured by the Philistines, Hophni and Phinehas died fulfilling the prophecy about them.  When Eli heard the news, he fell over backward breaking his neck.
    We are to be ready when the Lord comes.  Now is the day of salvation; now is the time to choose.  Hophni and Phinehas made themselves vile; the evil servant chose to become like the world around them.  Let us be like the good and faithful servant and be found doing the work that the Master has assigned.

Echoes From the Campfire

My God is all around me, in the sunshine, in the air, in the humming bees and whispering leaves and murmuring water.  I feel him everywhere, and in me, too!”
              –Zane Grey  (Wanderer of the Wasteland)

    “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
              –Philippians 2:13(NKJV)
                   It is truly wonderful
                   What the Lord has done!
                   It is truly wonderful!
                   It is truly wonderful!
                   It is truly wonderful
                   What the Lord has done!
                   Glory to His Name.
                          –Barney E. Warren

Perhaps it is because I need it, but the chorus of this song has been going through my mind the past week.  I’ve mentioned before how that happens.  We live in a time of complaining, murmuring, terror, and fear.  Yet that is not to be the attitude of the believer.  The Christian should recognize and walk in step with God.  Why is it truly wonderful?

         He pardoned my transgressions,
         He sanctified my soul;
         He honors my confessions,
         Since by His blood I’m whole.

He has pardoned our sins.  Not only the sins I repented of when I first came to know Him, but He does it everytime I ask Him.  He is in the process of sanctifying me, and oh, what a process it is!  He has purchased me, redeemed me, with His precious blood.

         He keeps me every moment
         By trusting in His grace;
         ’Tis through His blest atonement
         That I may see His face.

         He brings me through affliction,
         He leaves me not alone;
         He’s with me in temptation,
         He keeps me for His own.

I honestly do not understand why Christians  should choose to live in fear.  Either God is our Father and will take care of us, or He isn’t.  We either trust Him, or we don’t.  We cannot live this life for Him in a haphazard manner.  He does keep us every moment.  Even in the midst of trials, storms, and the corona, He is keeping us.  We sometimes, no, we often forget that He is most concerned with our spiritual condition rather than our physical condition.  That does not mean that He does not care for our well-being for that is part of us.  He understands what we need to grow closer to Him.
    No matter the situation, He is there with you.  You are not alone as you trod through this world of sod.  When we walk in His steps it is much better for us, yet when we get out of step He is there to pull us back to Him.  We have two requirements:  trust in His grace and not in our own good works, and to realize that we are His therefore we should obey His commandments and be holy.  Remember, we are saved by grace not works, but because of that grace we do the works for the Father.

         He prospers and protects me,
         His blessings ever flow;
         He fills me with His glory,
         He makes me white as snow.

         He keeps me firm and faithful,
         His love I do enjoy,
         For this I shall be grateful,
         And live in His employ.

I think that Christians too often forget who they are in Christ.  We walk along ready to jump into the “slough of despond” instead of enjoying the blessings that God has given us.  It is not our strength that keeps us along the way; it is through Him that we can make it through this life, therefore, we should not be down in the dregs.  Are we thankful and rejoicing in and through everything?  If not we should be.

         There’s not a single blessing
         Which we receive on earth
         That does not come from heaven,
         The source of our new birth.

There is much talk about the kingdom and how we are to live in it now.  That is true to an extent, just realize that we are pilgrims on this earth.  The blessings we receive now are only a smidgen compared to what they will be when we reach that heavenly portal.  We do not live in heaven now, but we are constantly on the move (or we should be) toward that city where Christ is the light.  In saying that, our load should not be heavy, our steps should not be dragging along, but there should be a lightness in our step as we recognize that “It is truly wonderful what the Lord has done!”

The Saga of Miles Forrest

It was late evening when the train pulled into the Durango station.  There was a problem with one of the cars and it had to be detached.  The problem was that there were few places along the way where the car could be taken off and left.  I didn’t figure there would be anyone at the station waiting for me since it hadn’t arrived on time.  
    I was wrong.  As I stepped off the train I saw Lucas sitting on a bench.  Upon seeing me he hopped up, waved at me, and ran off.  The diner would still be open, and that was the direction he was headed.  
    I was ready to leave the station platform when I noticed Mrs. Blackstone with her son, Connor, standing there amidst their luggage.  They were looking around as if they expected someone to be there to meet them so I went over to see if I could help.
    Doffing my hat I approached them, “Were you to be met?”
    Receiving a small smile, she replied, “Yes, my husband was supposed to meet us here.  I don’t see him anywhere.”
    Her voice carried with it some worry so I tried to console her.  “Well, the train was quite late comin’ in.  He’s probably around somewhere and will show up.”
    Since I had met her I had been racking my brain trying to recall a Blackstone.  I was almost sure there wasn’t one in Durango.  Perhaps he was in Silverton, Telluride, or one of the smaller camps.  Looking at their attire I didn’t think he’d be one of those poor down-and-out miners.  He was supposed to be a rancher, but perhaps he took to mining and fell down on his luck.
    By the time I was ready to head off, Molly had come up with Lucas.  She gave me a big hug.  “What took you so long?”
    After giving her a kiss I pointed to the engine, “Trouble with one of the cars.”
    “When the train didn’t show up on time, I started praying,” she said then hesitated pointing. “Who is the woman and boy?” she asked as she had seen me talking with her.
    Taking her by the arm we moved toward Mrs. Blackstone.  “Excuse me, ma’am.  I’d like for you to meet my wife.  Molly, this is Mrs. Blackstone and her son Connor.”
    Molly reached out her hand, “Glad to meet you,” then she pulled Lucas to her.  “And this is Lucas.”
    I saw the eyebrows of Mrs. Blackstone raise, “Is Lucas your son?”
    That brought a chuckle from Molly.  “Oh no, he’s the brother of my partner in the restaurant business.”  Then she pulled him close for a hug.  “But I’d sure claim him in a minute!”
    “Oh, uh, call me Jessie,” blurted Mrs. Blackstone, gaining her composure.  “My husband was supposed to meet me here, but I suppose since the train’s late that he’s off somewhere.”
    Molly gave me a questioning look, then turned her attention back to the woman.  “I imagine you’re starved.  Why don’t you come down to the diner and we’ll fix you up with a good meal.”  She looked over at Connor.  “Do you like pie?  Chocolate pie?”
    His eyes lit up and he turned his face to his mother.
    “Sure, come on.  Why, your husband might even be in the diner,” I said taking Molly by the hand and leading her away.  “Your luggage will be safe.”
    As we were walking toward the diner, I asked, “How’s Mateo?”
    “He’s doing all right,” she replied but without conviction.
    Stopping, I looked at her.  “Lucas, why don’t you take Connor and his mother on down to the diner?  We’ll be along shortly.”
    Looking Molly straight in the eye I asked again.  “How’s Mateo?”
    Tears filled her eyes.  “He was shot in the knee.  Doc had to do surgery to remove several bone chips.  He’ll be laid up for a while and will always have a limp.”
    “How’s Luciana and the boys takin’ it?”
    “They were scared, still are,” she paused, hesitating.
    “What?” I questioned.
    “The city council fired him!” she replied emphatically.  “They won’t pay for Doc’s services, nor pay Mateo while he is convalescing.  I’ll let Doc tell you more about it, but he was shot by that bounty hunter, Shaw.”
    Taking her hand, I didn’t say anything as we started walking again.  Just before stepping on the boardwalk in front of the diner I stopped her.  “Do you recall anyone by the name of Blackstone?”
    She looked at me, pursed her lips, shaking her head…

Echoes From the Campfire

The ‘what ifs’ of life can haunt a person.”
              –Stephen Bly  (One Step Over the Border)

    “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
              –Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
For the next few weeks I will be moving away from contemplating the Psalms on Monday.  While on our trip, if I write on Monday, I will look at other things.  However, when I get back to Texas, we’ll start the Psalms again.  Of course, it is nice to rest in Psalm 48.
    As mentioned, we are on a trip back East to visit the eldest daughter’s family.  Before we left, we made a plan, and we did our best to follow that plan.  Life is a plan–“it is not a game of chance but a divine plan” (Joseph Parker).  Remember, the very hairs of your head are counted.  God knows all about you, believer and unbeliever.  He has a plan for your life.  He knows all of your tears, all of your sorrows, and all of your troubles.  Life is meant to bring you to Him, and then on to live with Him for eternity.  However, just like on the plans for a trip, you can deviate from them.
    Put that last thought aside for a moment as I want to share some words from Joseph Parker.

         “Your troubles are all counted, your very tears as well.  The valleys before you were all excavated by the divine hand.  Every controversy, every crosswind, every cold, steep climb up the barren rocks–all are part of the divine purpose.  No temptation comes before you but such as is common to man, and with it God makes a way of escape.  Our Father knows the way we take, and when He has tried us, He will bring us forth as gold.”

There was a plan for Jesus’ life.  He understood it, he followed the will of His Father to complete the plan for His life.
    One of our problems in and with life is that we do not look at the “big plan.”  We tend to look at the little complexities that may come our way and there is nothing wrong with that, but they often get in the way of what God has for us in a larger sense.  In fact, the devil will use these daily grievances and issues to get us off the real plan that God has for us.  Christ understood that the plan for His life was the cross.  There were things that came His way that could have tempted to sway Him from the “big plan.”  He would not allow things to deviate His course.
    If we can grasp the larger plan that God has for us, the daily problems of life would be just so much annoyance and we would push them aside as such.  The larger plan would still loom in front of us.  The idea is that we live each day with the kingdom in mind, the will of God in mind, obeying the commands of Christ in mind.

         “Equipped with this plan, a man can essentially discount the future; its tragedies come to him in a sense as commonplaces; its crosses are but punctuations of a literature that he himself has written and approved as it final outcome and significance.  We are troubled because we have no outlook.  We take in no field of vision; our life comes at us in little pieces, in mocking details; and not knowing what is coming next, we fret ourselves with sore chafing.  The one thing we need not know is the details; the great thing we may know is the solemn wholeness.” (Joseph Parker)

    We want more and more of this life, rather that surrendering this life for the one that God has for us.  Material things can destroy the plan that God has for us.  Selfish wants get in the way of service to the Lord, of “presenting our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1, NKJV)).  The verse that follows is of utmost importance, we are not to “be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (12:2, NKJV)
    If we look to what God has for us, face the problems of the day properly, then we will be able to “prove” that plan that God has set before us.