Echoes From the Campfire

To fight for his life is a privilege which God gives to every man.”
                    –James Oliver Curwood  (The Valley of Silent Men a Story of the Three River Country)
       “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
                    –Luke 1:37 (NKJV)
I want to take a look at the words of a Christmas Carol.  I didn’t use them much this year, which is unusual for me.  But we live in a crazy, mixed-up world.  A world full of fear, anger, hatred, and bitterness.  There is anger from all quarters, and people are still running in fear from the virus that is among us.  I remembered a couple of verses from this great hymn penned by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  It would help you understand the carol better if you would take the time to read some of the life of Longfellow and to get the background from which he was writing.  I will say that it was in the midst of the turmoil of the Civil War.
               “And in despair I bowed my head:
                ‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
                ‘For hate is strong, and mocks the song
                Of peace on earth, good-will to men.'”
Here was a man in despair.  What was happening to his life, his family, and his country?  Hate is strong” my how true is that today.  But then something happened; he remembered from deep in his soul when he heard the sounding of the bells.
               “Then peeled the bells more loud and deep:
                ‘God is not dead: nor doth He sleep;
                The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
                With peace on earth, good-will to men.'”
God is still in control.  He does not waver, He is never taken by surprise, and He always cares for His children.  That made me think of an unusual Scripture of the Incarnation.
Remember, I wrote last week that I have often pondered the Incarnation.  We see much evil in the world today, but there was hatred, anger, and bitterness like never before on that first Christmas Eve–at least in the spiritual realm.  Often I have thought of what it must have been like in that realm with the Son putting aside His glory, leaving His throne in heaven to become man, even being born as a baby.
               “Now a great sign appeared in heaven:  a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars.  Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.  And another sign appeared in heaven:  behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.  His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.  And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.  She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron.  And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.”
                                –Revelation 12:1-5 (NKJV)
     Notice the dragon.  He was there, at the manger, ready to devour.  I always thought that Satan relished the thought of Jesus being born as a baby, thinking that it would be able to destroy Him.  As soon as Christ was born, the devil was ready to take action.  
     On a hillside, not far from Bethlehem, there was a “heavenly host” praising God and appearing to the shepherds.  I think it is interesting that this term is used.  In the Old Testament the often see God referred to as the “Lord of Hosts,” which means the commander of the armies of heaven.  When we see the angels at the birth of Christ, notice they are praying.  They do not have swords in their hands, but I think they were ready to draw them from their scabbards should they be needed to protect the baby Jesus.
     What a night that must have been, not only in the stable with Joseph and Mary with the birth of Jesus, but the spiritual world but have been extremely active.  Satan, the dragon, was ready to destroy.  The angels were there; there is no mention of Michael, but surely he was in the stable to confront the dragon if necessary.  My what a night; my what a story; my what a wonderful salvation and Savior.
           Ira Paine
P.S.  This is the last Echo until after Christmas.  I am not sure when I will begin again.  From my family to all of yours–MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

The Saga of Miles Forrest

Marta, what is wrong with you?” snapped Molly.
       “I don’t have to listen to this!” she snarled getting to her feet.
       Molly grasped her shoulders pushing Marta back into the chair.  “You are going to hear me out!  You may not listen but you are going to hear what I have to say.”
       Marta looked up at Molly glaring then her eyes went to that table.  
       When Molly realized that Marta was not going to jump up and leave she released her from her grasp then sat down in the chair beside her.  “Now I don’t know what’s going on but you are acting silly.  No, more than that outright foolish and hateful,” declared Molly.  “Don’t you remember saying, ‘for better or worse?'”
       Slowly she turned to face Molly.  “What about him?  Doesn’t he have to keep his part?”
       “Yes, but tell me when he hasn’t,” replied Molly.  “Go ahead, tell me.”
       “He’s never home,” she remarked.  
       “That’s nonsense and you know it, especially now that he has Mateo helping him.”
       Tears were forming in Marta’s eyes.  “The baby…I’m afraid, and, and I worry about Charlie.”  With that she broke down and began to sob.
       Molly pulled her close to hold her.  “Trust, Marta.  You must learn to trust in the Lord.  He surely knows that I had to learn that lesson.  It doesn’t help Charlie going out with you harping at him before he leaves.  Because he faces evil men, he must have his focus on what he is doing, not the harsh words that leave your mouth when he leaves.”
       Marta heaved a large sigh.  “You are right Molly.  I am so weak, and I know that God cares…  Help me, Molly.”
       All of the money taken from the bank was in camp so that was good.  Charlie would have it back in the bank before the day was out.  Now it was up to me to bring to justice the other two outlaws.  I watched Charlie leave before mounting to track down the two men.  It wouldn’t be hard, they could ride fast being bareback so I knew they would try to find a place to find saddle horses, or lay a trap for me following.  One was hurting for I saw blood on the moneybag coming from where Charlie shot him in the hand.
       I moved out, keeping Hawk to a walk.  The tracks were easy to follow with the light snow on the ground and once in a while there would be a spot of blood on the white snow.  I kept my eyes on the surrounding country looking for places where they might set up an ambush.  I would see when they went off the road, but that might be too late.
       It was cold, but not threatening snow of which I was glad.  I wanted to catch these men today and I didn’t need a heavy snow to hide their tracks.  Slowly moving up a ridge I stopped to dismount before reaching the top.  Walking over to some boulders on the side of the road I peered over at the road and land below.   There must be a stream for there was a grove of cottonwoods.  Plus the rocks were large and scattered on both sides of the road.  A perfect place for them to wait for me as they would catch me in a crossfire.  I didn’t relish that thought.   
       I checked the action on my pistol making sure the cylinder was loaded with six shells, then I checked the Greener’s loads.  Going back to Hawk, I pulled him over to a place between the boulders to keep him out of the wind, then I moved on foot toward the cottonwoods going way to the right.  If they weren’t there I just lost some time, but I reckoned it was better to be safe than to catch a bullet and be left in the frozen road.
       One thing about moving, I didn’t feel the cold get down in my bones, but with the snow it was hard to see rocks and I stumbled several times.  That wouldn’t do, for it made too much noise.  Finally, I moved into the cottonwoods from the west.  I hadn’t gone but a few yards, when I saw the horses, grazing on some grass around the stream.  There was no water flowing, what was there was frozen.  One had to be in the rocks before me, the other somewhere across the road.
       Moving slowly and quietly I left the cover of the cottonwoods, then saw movement.  A man moved his head to look around the rocks.    I came up behind him, I didn’t want to fire so I planned on getting close enough to thump him with the shotgun.  
       He turned and saw me.  It startled him and I was shaking my head.  “Don’t try it,” then lifted the Greener so those two black holes from the barrels would look him straight in the eyes.  He started to lick his lips…

Echoes From the Campfire

Life is uncertain. Each day is a gift from God and comes with no promise for another.”

                    –Dan Arnold  (Bear Creek)

       “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
                    –Matthew 7:11 (NKJV)
This coming Saturday is Christmas.  What first comes to your mind?  Is it the nativity and all it stands for?  Perhaps the Son of God as the baby in the manger?  Santa Claus?  Presents, gifts–that’s it isn’t it?  Christmas means gifts–not only the getting but the giving.  Now there is nothing wrong in receiving a gift, but it is better to give.  My Mom, who dearly loved Christmas, always had a gift for everyone in the family–nephews and nieces, brothers and sisters.  They may not be much, but she wanted everyone to have something.
         If we take the time, we should realize that a gift is really an extension of ourselves.  Whenever a gift is given, no matter to whom it is, you are exchanging a part of your life.  If the gift is frivolous, you are letting that person know it with your gift.  Oh, and we need to be careful with an extravagant gift; that may be boisterous, but not necessarily so, it could be very thoughtful.
       Many gifts, and rightly so, are gifts that keep on giving.  There are those gifts, and most of them should be, that whenever a person looks at them they will remember the person who gave it to them.  I recall one Christmas receiving several pairs of Lucchese boots.  Everytime I put them on, I think of the gift and the person who gave them to me.  Henry Van Dyke writes, “The finest Christmas gift is not the one that costs the most money, but the one that carries the most love.”
       Too often we buy in a hurry, because of our busy schedule (at least that is our excuse).  We buy thoughtlessly, not that we don’t want to get something a person would like, but that we wait too long to put much thought into it.  When you read the Gospels and look at the times when Jesus gave he always took time to think.  “Jesus thought before He gave; because He desired to satisfy the deepest need; because in fact He gave something of Himself in every gift.  All true Christmas-giving ought to be after this pattern.” (Van Dyke)
       Of course the greatest gift of Jesus to the world was Himself.  The greatest gift of the Father was His Son.  Jesus held back nothing.  He gave of Himself.  When we give a gift this Christmas we need to be conscious of the person to whom we are giving the gift.  I really like what Van Dyke says, “I am thinking of you to-day, because it is Christmas, and I wish you happiness.  And to-morrow, because it will be the day after Christmas, I shall still wish you happiness; and so on, clear through the year.”  We should understand and realize that everyone we come in contact with we can give a touch of Christmas.  It may only be a smile, and a hearty “Merry Christmas,” but it is coming from you.  “After all, Christmas-living is the best kind of Christmas-giving.” (Van Dyke)
       And let us not forget the wondrous gift that started with the Incarnation:  “For God so loved the world that He GAVE His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”  (John 3:16, NKJV, emphasis mine).

Coffee Percs

Once the coffee was ready, he poured himself a cup and stepped out onto the porch to greet the morning.”

                         –Brad Dennison  (The Long Trail)
Whoooeeee, Pard!  It’s hard to believe!  Reckon this is the last Saturday we’ll be together until next year.  My, my, my, for next Saturday is Christmas–yeehaw!  Then the followin’ week will be New Years.  Still hard to believe that another year has gone by.  Makes me wonder what I did with my time.
       I know one for sure–the Lord has been good and faithful to me.  With all the craziness in this world He has kept me, and my family.  Glad to be assured that whatever is goin’ on that the Lord is right there with me.  The ol’ devil would like nothin’ better than for us to lose our focus.  Why that is like drinkin’ diluted coffee.  Yuh know we’re not supposed to compromise, we should be drinkin’ the strong, pure, undiluted brew, nothin’ artificial, nothin’ weak, no see through coffee.  The same is true of our focus on the Lord.  Why for sure at times it would be better if we were wearing hoss blinders.
       How’s that taste?  Goes down smooth an’ soothes the gizzard don’t it?  Well, that’s the way I’m prayin’ for yuh, Pard.  I’m prayin’ that next year yu’ll have smooth ridin’, that yuh don’t fall off in some cactus patch.  Prayin’ that the bile doesn’t come up in yur stomach, nor that yur gizzard will get riled up.  Stay in the Word, Pard–kept yur gun oiled and ready, don’t be lookin’ to the right or the left but only on what the Lord has for yuh.
       Yuh be careful until we meet back here again.  I won’t be remindin’ yuh to check yur cinch, so yu’ll have do be rememberin’ it yur ownself.  Now, I know that’s a powerful lot, but don’t be goin’ out into this ol’ world unprepared.  Check yur gear an’ that includes yur cinch.  So until next year…have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
        Vaya con Dios.