Echoes From the Campfire

Beyond the black hills were the mountains, not far off, waiting for him. He had always loved the mountains… There was always the vast distance with the grass bending in the wind, the whispering leaves of the aspens, the gold of them when autumn came. How could a man who had known such vast distance confine himself to a desk? To the crowded streets of an eastern town?”
               –Louis L’Amour  (Under the Sweetwater Rim)

       “Nevertheless He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good, gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

               –Acts 14:17 (NKJV)
               “Goin’ back to my good ‘ole Texas home, home, home.
                Down by the sleepy Rio Grande
                Where the lonesome turtle dove is grievin’
                And the moon is shining on the sand.”
                            –Carson J. Robinson

For me, instead of the Rio Grande it’s more like the Piney Woods.  Right now, there are few  places I would consider living other than Texas.  That’s why there is such a political emphasis on the state.  When it goes liberal, the good Lord better help the rest of the country.
       We’ll be packing up and heading back to the homestead tomorrow, so no Echoes for a few days.  Not sure about when they’ll start up again.  Kinda like one of my cousins who used to say, “Look for me when you see the dust a flyin’.”  Well, look for an “Echo” when you see the smoke a-risin’.  One thing about being retired is that we don’t have to rush to places like we used to.  If we need to take an extra day we can.
       This “Echo” has no real topic, just a bunch of thoughts I thought I’d throw your direction.  The weather sure has been great up here in Maryland.  The fall, or autumn if your prefer, is my favorite time of year.  Come to think of it, the “fall” is my favorite time of life for I reckon that’s where I am now.  One needs to enjoy where they’re at because that is the place the Lord wants them to serve Him.  Don’t rush things along–plan for the future, but live for the day; it’s all we are assured of.
       One of my favorite books is Wanderer of the Wasteland by Zane Grey.  It is a book one could read as they study their Bible for there are many analogies that correlate to the Scripture.  Here is a great quotation to ponder from that book.

                “The clean white sand, the mesquites bursting into green, the nodding flowers in the grassy nooks under the great iron-rusted stones, the rugged, upheaved slope of mountain, and to the east an open vista between the trees where the desert stretched away gray and speckled and monotonous, down to the dim mountains over which the sun would rise; these could not but be pleasant and helpful. Love of life could not be separated from such things.”

       I’m not able to hike through the woods like I used to.  I miss it, but I have great memories, and I can sit on my back deck or on the patio and look at the woods behind our little cottage.  We call it our cottage in the woods.  The grandeur of the mountains no longer calls me.  Home on this earth no longer has a grip on me, but there are mountains–hills that seem to beckon me now.  I think of the words of Dottie Rambo’s song:

                The holy hills of Heaven call me
                To mansions bright across the sea
                Where loved ones wait and crowns are given
                The hills of home keep calling me.
                I’ll take my flight like a mighty eagle
               When the hills of home start calling me
                I’ll take my flight like the mighty eagle
               When the hills of home start calling me.

       The Lord must have been a hand around the campfire.  I wonder just how many meals He prepared for Himself over a campfire, and how many He enjoyed with His disciples.  One of the last things we have recorded of Him is He preparing a meal for the disciples on the beach waiting for the disciples to come ashore.

               “Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.  Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish which you have caught.’…  Jesus said to them, ‘Come and eat breakfast.’  Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are You?’–knowing that it was the Lord.  Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.”
                              –John 21:9-10, 12-13 (NKJV)

Sure does make thoughts flow through my head.   Have a great weekend and until our trails cross again, be safe and trust in the Lord.

Echoes From the Campfire

The river went on and on, growing dimmer, becoming a mere thread, to vanish in a blue haze out of which the Rocky Mountains rose, first obscure and like low masses of clouds, and then clear blue, to rise up and up magnificent reaches to pierce the sky with their snow-like peaks.”
                    –Zane Grey  (Wyoming)

       “I lift my eyes toward the mountains.  Where will my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

                    –Psalm 121:1-2 (HCSB)
How many times have I woken up to look at the hills–the mountains?  Nowadays I mostly see the forests of the Piney Woods, but the feeling is similar.  There is something majestic about the mountains, or the desert, or the open country, or the woods.  Perhaps they show the quietness of God’s power; the stillness in which He works.  There is so much wonder in the wilderness; it is as if I can actually feel the awesomeness of the Creator of the universe.  There is a ruggedness, a danger, a wildness; but also a serenity, a calmness of sitting on a ridge overlooking a high country lake or a rushing stream that comes from under a snow bank.
       Wait a minute.  Isn’t the wilderness supposed to be a dreaded place, a harsh place?  Perhaps it is how you approach it and what you learn from it.  Much of what we face in the wilderness has to do with our attitude or how they are changing.  Our attitudes and actions should be changing and we should be able to adjust to our journey and face the challenges that may come our way.
       The wilderness was vital in developing our nation.  It helped develop the character of the people who pioneered and settled the country.  The wilderness is vital in developing the character of the individual as well.  Many did not survive the wilderness, but those who did usually came out better and stronger people.  It takes strength, it takes courage, it takes integrity to journey through the wilderness.  Today, few even talk about going to the wilderness, or if they do they want to take all of the modern conveniences with them.  That alone shows that they do not understand the purpose of the wilderness.  More and more people want handouts, want others to take care of them.  More and more we see a nation that reflects welfare rather than industriousness.
       Jesus, after His baptism, was immediately sent to the wilderness.  Moses spent forty years learning of the wilderness for he was to lead a stiff-necked people through it for another forty years.  He had to learn the lessons that God had for him.  Also, remember that it was on a mountain in the wilderness where he met God.  Paul, after his conversion, spent three years in the wilderness coming to know more of God and his purpose in life.  
       When times are rough, stop, look around you and you may see that God has allowed you to enter a special experience with Him.  When the pressures of life seem to be demanding more and more of you, stop, look to the hills, breathe deeply of His presence.  When the clouds have darkened and you can’t seem to find your way; stop, above the dark clouds are the mountain summits even though you cannot see them.  I love the words of Louis L’Amour, “Look to the hills.  They are quiet.  The storms sweep over them, and are gone, and most of man’s troubles pass the same way.  Whenever you feel that things are getting too much for you, go to the mountains or the desert–it smoothes out the wrinkles in your mind.”
       When upon your journey through life and there is upon the horizon a challenge or a problem or a storm look back at the times when God has been with you in a similar circumstance.  In the midst of difficulties be aware of His presence.  Be a person of God, and continue forward.

The Saga of Miles Forrest

When the man hit the floor his gun went off, and that’s when it all went to chaos.  Standing next to me, a man drew and fired at Charlie.  Then there was a shot from the other side of the room.  I swung the barrel of the Greener at the man next to me catching him flush in the face breaking his nose and probably his cheek and he fell to the floor joining his friend.  I heard another shot, then glancing over to Charlie who I saw had his gun out and was pointing it toward the crowd.  I decided to get everyone’s attention so I cut loose with one barrel into the ceiling.  The twenty-gauge had the effect I wanted and the room quieted down.
       Three men were down.  I watched Charlie walk over to the man across the room that had shot at him.  Charlie kicked the gun out of his hand then nudged him with his boot.  A groan came from the man.  Looking at the man standing near, Charlie barked, “He have a name?”
       The man backed up a step.  Charlie turned his attention to him.  “I asked you a question,” then he looked at others nearby.  “What’s his name?”
       “Uh, Philby, I think,” the man replied then looked to others for confirmation which gathered a few nods.
       “Mister, since you know so much,” Charlie said to the man who answered, “get down and check him out.”
       In the meantime I looked at the men gathered near me and started pointing with the Greener.   “Carry these men down to the jail,” I ordered.
       One man not far away started to complain, “Ah, I’m not gonna…”  When I gave him a thump with the Greener on the head, not hard enough for him to join the two on the floor, but enough to get his attention.  
       “You were sayin’?”
       He grumbled something but reached down to pick up a leg of one of the unconscious men.  “If we aren’t there by the time you men get there, just dump them in front of the jail,” I stated, then went to join Charlie.  “You all right?” I asked.
       He checked himself, then nodded.  “Bullet missed.”
       “He’s hurt bad,” said the man checking out Philby.
       “Then you better get that bleeding stopped,” suggested Charlie.  “Use this,” he said, tossing him a towel he picked up from a nearby table.
       There became a slow murmuring and discussion among the crowd in the room.  Charlie went back to the bar grabbing a chair along the way.  I decided to walk along with him, but I continued on back and around the bar.  Charlie stood up on the chair and hollered, “This establishment is closed for the night.  Everybody out!”
       “Say, you can’t do…” came the voice of the bartender until I poked him on the ear with the Greener.
       “Can’t do what?” I inquired, then I suggested, “Why don’t you go have a seat at that table.”  I pointed with the shotgun at the table next to Charlie. 
       There was a lot of grumbling, but the crowd filed out, many of them grabbing bottles that were left laying on tables.  The men lying on the floor had been removed including the one that Charlie shot.  I went and stood by the bartender who was now seated at the table.
       “You the owner?” I asked in a normal tone now that the room was empty.
       “Yes, and you’re causing me to lose a lot of money.  You have no right to close my establishment!”
       I could tell that Charlie was in no mood for any discussion much less any griping.  He got in the man’s face.  “I have every right!  I’m Sheriff Gold, and if you don’t shut up I’ll close this place permanently.”
       Keeping the Greener between the bartender and myself I sat down in a chair next to him.  “Do you know those men?” 
       He shook his head, “Only by face, not by name.  They come in here frequently.”  
       “Any reason they’d pick out the Sheriff to kill?” I continued to question.
       After a slight shrug of the shoulders, he suggested, “I believe they just don’t care for lawmen.”
       “What about you?”
       Again came the shrug.  “I have nothing against them,” he said, pausing before continuing with disgust, “except when they close down my place of business.”
       Charlie grabbed him by the shirt, “Remember what I said about closing this place down permanently!”  He straightened up, looked over at me, then spoke to the bartender again.  “Close up, lock the doors.  You can open up tomorrow at noon unless I come by to tell you otherwise.  Miles, you ready?”
       I followed the Sheriff out the doors where before we entered the street we checked the area carefully.  Not seeing anyone we continued on to the jail and our occupants.  They were lumped there in front of the door and it took a few minutes for us to get them inside and into cells.  We put two in one cell, then put the wounded man in one by himself.  I checked his wound, noticing that the bleeding had stopped.  He needed a doctor as the bullet was in the leg and needed to come out.  Charlie said that he’d go get the vet, Davenport, who was acting as town doctor.
       When he left I went over to the desk and sat down behind it.  I started shaking my head as I looked up praying, “Lord, there is sure plenty of evil in this ol’ world.  Thank you for keepin’ Charlie and me safe tonight.”  Then I heaved a big sigh and waited.

Echoes From the Campfire

The university of the wilderness that I now attended had simple tests but they came often.”
                    –Louis L’Amour  (The Ferguson Rifle)

       “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things you have.  For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”
                    –Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)
We have found ourselves in the midst of a situation that has not been seen since the end of World War I when the influenza struck.  This virus has led many people into a type of wilderness.  Some have died, some have faltered, and some have survived.  No matter the case, it has affected all of us.  Now there are arguments and fights over masking or not, over vaccines or not.
       Life is often like that and the Lord will allow us to pass through the wilderness.  He knows what we need upon entering, and He knows the purpose behind the wilderness.  I like what Zeb Bradford Long wrote, “The challenge of the wilderness is to stand alone and to walk with God.”  If this time that we are living in has not brought you closer to God; if you have not found yourself walking with Him, then beware–you will fall, or He will allow you to face another type of wilderness.
       Jesus faced the wilderness right after He was baptized by John.  We know about the temptations of Jesus by the devil in the wilderness, but we do not normally think about another situation He faced.  Mark told us in his Gospel that He was “tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts…”  (Mark 1:13)
       We are not told exactly what happened.  Did they confront Him?  Did He take control over them, as the episode with Daniel is the lion’s den?  Did He have a staff to ward them off?  Nothing is said except that He was with the wild beasts and then another interesting phrase, “and the angels ministered to Him.”
       First, I do not know of any type of wilderness that does not have some kinds of wild beasts, except possibly Antarctica.  The wilderness has its share of wild beasts.  They are hungry, and most of the time looking for food.  The weak, the timid, the hurt, and the faint of heart could easily become prey to them.
       There was one time when I was heading out to the Indian Peaks Wilderness to do some fishing.  I knew of some beaver ponds about a mile from the road and planned to stay the night.  Crossing a stream and moving up a hill I looked back and there was a bear on my backtrail at the place where I crossed the stream.  He looked at me and ran.  It was then I decided that I would not stay the night.  I just didn’t have a comfortable feeling and my fly-rod was no match for a bear.
       Have you ever felt stalked by the beasts?  That is not uncommon.  The evil beasts of the devil will stalk you and at your weak point, try to destroy you.  You must be vigilant in your walk, stay alert, and even at night tune your spiritual senses to the wild.
       You may unwittingly come upon a beast along the journey.  You may startle it into action.  This is the time when you must use your spiritual weapons to defend yourself.  There is a time to fight the foe (and remember, there are myriad types of foes).  That is why the Word of God is so important for it is a light to use upon the trail, so that we do not stumble or are not surprised.  It is also a sword to use to defend ourselves.
       Possibly the beasts could mean just the things of life.  Beasts in the wild are natural; they are part of the environment.  Jesus faced the temptations of Satan, but also faced the beasts.  There are times in our lives when Satan may attack us, but often we must face the fight of life itself.  Things happen.  Be active; the attack may be from the physical world as well as the spiritual.
       One more thing is shown in the verses from Mark.  After the temptations, after the beasts, the angels came and ministered.  Wait a minute!  This was Jesus, the Son of God.  Shouldn’t He be the one minstering?  Why would angels need to minister to Him?  Simple, He was on this earth as a man.  We need to realize that when we face a serious attack in the wilderness, we can rest assured that we will be ministered unto.  Peace, and whatever our souls may need will come.  It may be an angel who comes, or a brother/sister in the Lord, or the Holy Spirit.  After temptations, after confronting the beast (whatever kind they may be); we surely need a special rest, but in the meantime “fight the good fight of faith.”  (taken from Trails in the Wilderness, 2017)