Echoes From the Campfire

There was something about the mountain air that made one want to inhale deeply…it was like fresh, clear, cold water in the throat.”
              –Louis L’Amour (Shalako)

    “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord”
              –Acts 3:19 (NKJV)
         Prayer:  “Lord Jesus, when my heart succumbs to sin, like David, I have no song to sing.  Only when I bow to Your will and purpose do my praises ascend.  May I not be so foolish as to starve my spirit in order to satisfy my sinful human cravings.”
                 –George O. Wood

    As I was reading this prayer I had to stop and ponder it some.  I had never thought that when I fulfill my personal sinful cravings and lusts that I am actually starving the real me.  Last week, we ate and ate at Thanksgiving, we weren’t starving to death, but we were fulfilling an appetite.  It seems that when we “eat” of our sinful desires we are doing the same.  But when doing it the spirit man suffers, the righteous man is now hungering.  In fact, Jesus makes the statement, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6, NASB).
    This is a good time to finish Psalm 51, David’s prayer for forgiveness and cleansing.  Keep in mind the words of the apostle John when he wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9, NASB).  The King James says that God is “faithful and just.”  It takes a righteous God, a just God to not only forgive us, but to also cleanse us.

    13 – Then I will teach the rebellious Your ways, and sinners will return to You.
    14 – Save me from the guilt of bloodshed, God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing of Your righteousness.
    15 – Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.
    16 – You do not want a sacrifice, or I would give it; You are not pleased with a burnt offering.
    17 – The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit.  God, You will not despise a broken and humbled heart.
    18 – In Your good pleasure, cause Zion to prosper; build the walls of Jerusalem.
    19 – Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on Your altar.  

    Only when we have repented and are right with God will our lives be that “living epistle” that men can look at and read.  If we persist in our sin, and do not repent (remember, David had the choice when the prophet came to him) then men will despise us for our hypocrisy.  Once there is repentance then we can properly give praises to God and people will see by the outward expression of our life what has taken place inside.
    I have often wondered, especially now that I am doing some writing, about the idea of verse 14.  There is much in the writings of the prophets concerning the shedding of innocent blood and the judgment that it brings.  But what about the shedding of blood in bringing justice, doing God’s work, so to say?  David was known as a “bloody man” and therefore, God would not allow him to build the temple.  There was a price to pay.
    Much too often, there is jumping and hopping around the church (I dare not say, “altar”)  but has there been repentance first?  David is not against sacrifices, but he realizes that all the sacrifices will not cleanse his heart.  The only thing that will bring cleansing is true repentance–“a broken spirit…a broken and humbled heart.”  The King James and NASB use the term, “contrite heart.”  I have been told that contrite means to be broken down and crushed to powder.  Then, and only then, will God accept our sacrifices.

              “Lord, I confess to you, sadly my sin;
               All I am, I tell to you, All I have been;
               Purge all my sin away, Wash clean my soul this day;
               Lord, make me clean.”
                      –Horatius Bonar

Oh to be clean.  The freshness that comes to our whole being after a refreshing shower or a hot bath when the dirt of the day has been washed away.  The same is true of the spirit, when we come to the Lord and ask for a spiritual shower of His love and mercy.

Coffee Percs

He blew the steaming black coffee awhile, then tentatively touched the rim of the cup to his lips.”
              –Elmer Kelton  (The Time It Never Rained)

Say, Pard, yuh havin’ trouble gettin’ off yur mount and waddlin’ into the kitchen?  My, my, my I can tell yuh didn’t mess around this Thanksgivin’.  Was it hard to eat with a mask on?  Jist had to throw that idiocy in; I didn’t see one mask at the Lake and all the campsites were full.  We had a grand time at the Lake, but the silly county went an’ placed a burned ban on–at Thanksgivin’ time.  Despite that, we had us a nice time.  Plenty of coffee an’ plenty of fixin’s that the wife made for the camp, an’ I’m still workin’ on the pie.
    I didn’t see if there were any houses in Oregon or California raided for havin’ too many people.  ‘Course, I don’t look at the news much.  Too much lyin’ for me.  Why, I’m a-thinkin’ that journalists now lead the pack in the lyin’ category ahead of the lawyers, politicians, and weather forecasters.
    Pard, that’s coffee sent to me from a former student who’s now in Okinawa.  Japanese roasted–how ’bout that?  Not bad…especially if I make it strong enough.  I was tryin’ to read what kind it was but all I could see were stick figures.
    I was doin’ some ponderin’ and it bothered me some.  No, not the ponderin’ the thought.  We have a special day set aside in which we are to be thankful.  Interestin’ how there has to be a special day to be remindin’ folks to be thankful.  In fact, I’m thinkin’ and believin’ that we should be practicin’ our gratitude every day.  We should have an attitude of gratitude, and that there’s a fact!  Some out there probably were a-frettin’ instead of a thankin’.  Well, I’m a-thinkin’ that if’n we did more thankin’ there would be less frettin’.  I’m jist tellin’ yuh.
    What’s that?  Yur goin’ to waddle off an’ hibernate?  Ha, ha, Pard.  Say yuh need a boost up?  Let me be tellin’ yuh one more thing before yuh head out this mornin’.  “Christmas Time’s a Comin'”!  And, Pard, with that added girth from Thanksgivin’ yuh best be sure an’ check that cinch.
       Vaya con Dios.

Echoes From the Campfire

You just never know what’s over the next hill.”
              –Lou Bradshaw  (Texas War Lord)

    “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”
              –Colossians 2:7 (NLT)
The little church where we attend has an unofficial theme song.  It is sung at every other Sunday.  It’s a good song, and because we sing it so often the words often come to me during the week.  

         “I woke up this morning feeling fine
          I woke up with heaven on my mind,
          I woke up with joy in my soul
          Cause I knew my Lord had control…”
                 -Mosie Lister

What a reason to be thankful!  The Lord has everything under control!  Don’t fret, don’t worry, don’t sweat the small stuff, in fact don’t even sweat the large stuff.  The Lord is guiding my life, ordering my footsteps, and giving me calm assurance that He is not threatened, worried, or anxious about things here on earth.  Be thankful!
    God often told the Israelites to remember what He had done in the past.  It would give them faith, and it would help assure them that He would do the same in the present.  Take a little time for memories this Thanksgiving.  Remember how blest you have been because of the Lord and how He had taken care of you in the past.  I mentioned to Annie regarding our first Thanksgiving together fifty years ago.  I took her to visit my family in Colorado.  We lived in an old two-story brick house.  Now back in the 1960s, Boulder was known as a windy city, my wife to be stayed in the room with my Aunt Bern, notorious for her snoring.  I thought I lost my wife-to-be as one of those wind storms came up, and my Aunt tried to outdo it with her snoring.  Ah, but now, it brings a smile.  Memories, lessons, the leading of the hand of the Lord–be thankful!
    God is still working, He is still involved with us today; right now!  Despite a virus run rampant, despite serious storms, fires, and other natural calamities, God is working.  His keeping-power is with us.  Perhaps He is trying to wake some of us up, telling us to get ready.  Don’t be afraid of the day.  Don’t let the devil, or circumstance steal your joy, trust in the Lord for He has control.  Be thankful for this day!
   The future?  Who knows what will happen?  The crazy liberal left will take charge of the government.  Do you think that God is worried?  Do you think He is scared of liberals, and that He might run and hide and not protect His children?  Bah, He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Look to the future with assurance that He will lay out a path for you to follow.  If we go by the grave, or if we are caught up with Him when He comes, we can always trust Him and recognize that He is in control.  Be thankful for His unfailing grace in the days ahead.
    So enjoy Thanksgiving, your family and friends, your turkey, dressing, and all the other fixin’s, plus plenty of pie.  Enjoy, but also be giving thanks.  Make it a day of truly being thankful.  The Scripture admonishes us to be thankful in all things, then you can:

         “…There’s a light that always shines
          Down inside this heart of mine,
          I’ve got heaven on my mind,
          And now I’m feeling mighty fine.”

The Saga of Miles Forrest

There was already a small group of people gathered by the time I reached Dr. Webb’s place.  I went inside with some dread of what I would find.  My fears were realized when I saw the doctor, lying on the floor near the chair where I had last seen him.  It appeared that Dr. Webb killed himself with a bullet in mouth going out the back of his head; the gun was lying on the floor near his hand.
    On the desk, I noticed a notebook with pencil next to it.  My curiosity took over so I opened the little book.  Scrawled out on the page was the line, “The demons were too much!”  Suicide note?  I wondered, for some reason it all looked too tidy.
    “Get out of my way!” I heard a rough voice bark.  “Get out!  Mike, get these people out!”
    I left the book open as I turned to look at the commotion.  “Forrest, what are you doing here?” the rough voice of the town marshal, Asa Stokes, rang out.
    “Howdy, Asa,” I acknowledged him.  “I was just visitin’ with the doc this mornin’.  I’m lookin’ for a fella.”
    Marshal Stokes, stooped down to look at Dr. Webb.  “Those nightmares finally got to him.”
    Asa Stokes had been marshal in Silverton for six months now.  That’s just about the longest anyone has lasted.  The town was rough, not only with miners, but the evil that came with a rousing gold and silver camp.  Marshals were either killed, or they moved on to greener pastures, plus the fact that the winters were vicious.
    “Asa, there’s a note on the table,” I said pointing at it.  “Do you know the Doc’s writin’?”
    It seemed a growl came from him as he stood then picked up the note.  “Plain as day, don’t yuh think?”
    I shrugged.  “Your jurisdiction,” I replied, but then added, “Mind if I look around some?  I can’t be long, I have to catch the train.”

    An hour later I was on the train with Rev. Chapman sitting next to me.  I was staring out the window pondering when I felt the touch on my arm.  “Miles, Miles, are you all right?”
    “Oh, sorry, Parson, I was just thinkin’ how it just happened that I was talkin’ with the deceased doctor this mornin’ then findin’ him dead.”
    His face was grim when he answered, “Suicide is hard.  Why do you think the doctor did it?”
    I gave him a stern look then cocked my head.  “You don’t think it was suicide?” he asked shocked.  “But from what you told me…the evidence.”
    “That’s just it, the evidence.  Parson, there’s just somethin’ gnawin’ in my gut that it was too clean an’ neat.”
    We both quieted down, listening to the clickety-clack of the train moving along the rails.  Then I inquired, “Say, Parson, what was that package I saw you carryin’ up to Black?”
    He looked startled, so I gave him a grin.  “So you were watching me?”
    “Nope, just happened to see you walkin’ up the street with a package under your arm, then head into the Empty Diggin’s.  Curiosity got the best of me, so I went to the entrance and saw you walkin’ up the stairs.  Only Black lived up there.”
    “After what you told me, I thought he might want a couple of new shirts,” the reverend replied humbly.
    I nodded my head.  “Parson you’re a good man,” I stated, then thought of the coming week.  “Say, I expect to see you and your lovely wife, Betty at the fixin’s on Thursday.”
    A puzzled look showed on his face.  “Fixings?”
    “Why, Molly and I, mostly Molly, have been havin’ a feed for the town every Thanksgivin’ and Christmas.  If you’ve walked the streets you may have noticed that there are more people than normal.  Lots of down-an’-out miners and miners that have been laid off for the winter.  We always have dinner for them on those days.”
    “I didn’t know.  Yes, yes, we’ll be there.  What should we bring?”
    “Bring yourselves.  It’s not much, mostly venison or elk stew, plus plenty of pie,” I uttered.  “You’ll sit at my table.”
    He was smiling.  “It will be nice for Betty.  She hasn’t been out much since we arrived.  It would be good for her to get to know Molly, and who was the other lady?”
    “Marta, and Emelda is the cook.  Doc Jones and Edith will be there, Marta’s husband, Charlie, and I hope Mateo shows up with Luciana and the boys.”
    He leaned back in the seat.  I heard the train give a long whistle, we were coming into Rockwood.  I looked out the window, the snow was falling heavily now.  We got out of Silverton at just the right time.