Echoes From the Campfire

I would rather die an honest fool than walk down a wicked path paved by the pain and sufferin’ of others.”

                   –Orris Slade  (Set Things Right)

       “Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?”
                   –James 4:5 (NKJV)
How to Live in a Pagan, Apostate, and Foolish World

       Let’s continue on with the things that “We Know” from last week.  Today I want to look at the key scripture of these lessons.

                    “We know that we are of God and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
                                      –1 John 5:19 (NASB)

The first, we know of this verse is:  “We Know” we are of God!  Look at the prayer of Jesus in John 17.  He does not pray for the world.  He does not pray to take His people out of the world.  He does pray that they might be kept.  We are not of this world, but we are kept as we journey through it.  Daniel was not kept from the lion’s den, but was kept by the power of God in it.  And there are many more examples.  Notice that those mentioned in Hebrews 11 regarded themselves as pilgrims and sojourners in the world.  They were only here for a while.
       Paul reminds us in Second Corinthians:

                    “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers.  For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness?  And what communion has light with darkness?…
Therefore ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.'”  (6:14,,17 NKJV)

We must constantly watch our attitude in our journey.  The world is constantly speaking to us.  Sometime it yells while at other times it is a subtle whisper.  Paul tries to tell us to get a proper view of the world.  We must view it with the attitude of a Christian and not desire to be a part of it.  The shameful and scary thing is that “The line between the Church and the world is becoming increasingly indistinct.” (Lloyd-Jones).  Can you tell the world from the Church?  Music.  Atmosphere.  Attitudes.  Values.

                    “The Church stood out distinct and apart…  When the Church is unique, she has the greatest influence upon the world.  It is nothing but a departure from New Testament doctrine that ever tries to make the Church ingratiate herself to the world.”
                                         –D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

       We Know that the world lies in wickedness or under the power of the wicked one.  The mentality of the world is apart from God.  Therefore, why does the believer seek to be friends with the world?  Why do they seek to be like those we are to come apart from?  Study Israel when they went into Canaan.  They had the same problem–they wanted to be like their neighbors and not set apart for God.  They still wanted the blessings of God, but would not obey His commandments.  We must view the world from the lens of the Scriptures, from a spiritual view.
       Satan even tempted Jesus with the world.  Here are the kingdoms, You don’t have to die.  I freely give them to You–just bow down to me.  That’s what the devil wants; he wants for us to bow down and serve him, and so often we do unwittingly.  Turn your focus and worship to the things of the world.  Lloyd-Jones says, “The devil cares very little what men and women may be like, so long as they do not believe in God.”


Echoes From the Campfire

Courage and bravery are words too often used, too little considered. It is one thing to speak them, another thing to live them. It is never easy to face hardship, suffering, pain, and torture. It is always easier to die, simply to give up, to surrender and let the pain die with you. To fight is to keep pain alive, even to intensify it.”
                         –Louis L’Amour  (Killoe)

       “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you.”
                         –1 Peter 4:12 (NKJV)
Do you have a troubled mind ?  Are things coming at you left and right and you don’t know which way to turn?  It seems like we live in a world today that is full of woe, heartache, confusion, terror, and fear.  Some of these things may be coming at you right now.  Fear–of the virus, of the unknown.  Suffering–from sickness, disease, injury, or you know someone who is.  Confusion–the craziness of all the “alternative” lifestyles and genders.  Perhaps, just perhaps this is God working on you.
       Don’t be too quick to dismiss the trial that you are going through.  Read some of the letters of Paul and Peter and you will see that they tell us not to be distressed over the trials that come our way.  In our modern Christian culture that promotes harmony and prosperity there is little teaching and preaching on the suffering that believers may go through and the reasons for it.  I know of one church that will not sing a song that has the words, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away,” because the pastor says that the Lord does not take away.  He needs to read the book of Job.

               “Remove impurities from silver, and a vessel will be produced for a silversmith.  Remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established in righteousness.”
                              –Proverbs 25:4-5 (HCSB)

               “Take away the dross from silver, And it will go to the silversmith for jewelry.  Take away the wicked from before the king, And his throne will be established in righteousness.”
                              –Proverbs 25:4-5 (NKJV)

       Before it can be used by the silversmith, silver ore must be taken to a mill to remove the dross–the impurities, its slag or scum.  It is crushed, heated, and melted.  Impurities will then float to the surface where they need to be removed.  When you find yourself going through a trial, it may be the Lord getting rid of the scum in your life.  Then He will come along and scrape the crud away.  After that He will begin to work on other ways in your life; the Silversmith will then decide what to do.
       I included the NKJV as it shows that the silversmith can now make the silver into jewelry.  The life can now shine and adorn properly.  The inner person is now seen because the Holy Spirit is working.  However, it might not be jewelry that the Silversmith has in mind.  It may be a spoon or fork.  We have several old pieces of silverware.  Even though it has gone through the process of being crushed and put through the fiery process they will tarnish and turn dull.  Silver must be polished.  From time to time a scrubbing needs to take place so even though the impurities have been removed, the environment around it will tarnish the shine, therefore there needs to be cleaning, polishing, and buffing.
       Notice verse 5, as it references that the wicked need to be removed from the king.  There is wickedness everywhere we look.  Nature and mankind display the effects of sin.  God is the King and He sits on the throne twiddling His thumbs, yawning “Ho Hum.”  NO!  He is busy working on us, working on the world.  He is never idle.  He is, in fact, applying the heat to the world.  One day He will purify it and the wicked will be removed.  Never think for a moment that God is not involved with ridding this world of wickedness and evil.  We may not see His work, but know that He is working to bring about a kingdom that will be established in righteousness (other versions say with justice).
       So don’t despair in what you see or hear in the news–God has everything under control.  Don’t despair, whimper, and cry over your present suffering–God has everything under control.  Look up, our redemption draws nearer and nearer.  I am reminded of the words written by Andre Crouch, “Soon and very soon we are going to see the KIng.”
(Thanks to Bob Beasley for some ideas that I incorporated in the above devotion.)


The Saga of Miles Forrest

Reverend Chapman, I have a favor to ask of you,” said Molly, as she watched the preacher sip his coffee.  “Hannah and Gretchen are two fine elderly ladies who both worked for us at one time or another.  They still provide our eggs.  But what I was wondering, would you stop by and see them?  I know Gretchen has been ailing and they don’t get out much.”
       “There’s nothing on my calendar, so after I leave here I’ll go get Betty and we’ll go visit them.  Tell me where they live.”
       Molly gave him the instructions then said, “They are getting up in years, and I’m concerned about their eternal souls.”  She took hold of the preacher’s hand, “I really appreciated this.”
       He nodded, then pulled his hand from Molly’s, picked up his cup and drained the contents.  Standing up, he looked down at Molly, “Be praying,” then walked on out the diner.
       I walked out of the diner in time to see the stranger riding down the street, probably heading for Olson’s or the Broken Drum.  It was time for me to do some checking around on the preacher’s cousin, Clyde Hoffner.  I thought I’d check at a couple of places in town, then ride on out to Thompson’s in the morning.  The first place I went was over to Solly Vendor’s place.  He had a large window in front of his counter and he often was outside smoking some of his merchandise.  
       Though I didn’t approve of Solly’s ware I thought he was a good, solid man.  He was honest and did his part to help out if a person was in need.  We made the normal greetings and chat, but when I asked him about Hoffner he told me that he hadn’t seen him since he rode in with the preacher then went to work for Thompson.
       Leaving Solly’s I went on down the street and peeked in the jail to wave at Lucas.  He was busy sweeping the floor of the office, but took the time to wave back.  Lucas was a changed person after his trip to Canon City.  I wasn’t sure if he would stay on as deputy, and I don’t think he had come to a decision yet in his own mind.  From the jail I went to Olson’s Saloon.  I didn’t see the horse of the stranger tied out front so he either went to the Broken Drum or on out of town.  
       Rufus Dixon was working the bar. He did his job, caused no trouble, and usually knew when a stranger came to town.  I asked him first about Hoffner to which he replied he hadn’t seen him.  Then I asked about the stranger.
       “Tall man, whiskered?” questioned Dixon.  He wears his gun on the left side, for a cross draw.”
       That could be several men in town, but I nodded, “Sounds like him.  Has he been in?”
       “Not today,” replied Dixon.  “I only saw him once and that was last night,” he paused.  “Be careful, Marshal.  There’s something about him that is dark.  Maybe it’s his grown of whiskers, but it seems to be more in his eyes and his attitude.”
       “Thanks for the advice.  Let me know if you see or hear anything of Hoffner.”
       I was only a couple of stores from Foster’s Mercantile.  It had been a while since I had talked to Darnelle or seen Mr. Foster, so I decided to stop by for a quick visit.  There were several customers in the store and both Darnelle and Jessie Blackstone were busy.  I waved and started to walk out when Darnelle held up her hand, “Wait Miles!  Let me finish with Mrs. Ferguson and I’ll be with you.”
       While she was finishing I gazed at the goods in one of the glass counters.  There were all sorts of watches, rings, and other types of jewelry.  I perused the watches as I hadn’t had one in several years.  The one my Daddy gave me when I left home broke when I was riding for Pennington over on the Tomichi Creek.  Moving on to the next counter; it was filled with shaving mugs and razors.  Automatically my hand went to my chin and I rubbed it a few times, the shook my head.  My razor was still good.  On top of the counter were various types of soaps with their own curious aromas.  I was in need new soap, but it would have to wait until later.
       I was sniffing the different types of soaps when Darnelle accosted me.  “Miles, what can I help you with?  Soap, a new razor?”
       Smiling, I replied, “Always tryin’ to make a sale. Yuh know, after a while they all begin to smell the same.”
       Darnelle giggled and returned my smile, “Well, that’s why we are in business.  Are you here for a reason?”
       “No particular reason.  I realized I hadn’t been by in a while so just stopped in.  I wanted to check on you and also see how your Dad was doing.”
       Her countenance became cloudy.  “Not good.  We’re not sure, but he made have had a minor stroke.  Whatever happened it has affected his attitude again.”  Quickly, however, she put away that expression and her normal smile and joyful attitude returned.  “Have you heard that the Blackstones are leaving and moving to Oregon?”
       Jessie Blackstone was married to a no-good saloon owner in Silverton.  Reverend Chapman worked and worked on that man until one day he broke down and gave his heart to the Lord.  For the past year he had been trying to sell his saloon, but wasn’t getting the price he wanted.  I reckoned it finally sold.
       “You’ll lose a good worker,” I said.
       Darnelle nodded, “Yes, but it will be good for the family to be together again.  Connor needs his father,” she said, then paused.  “I can see that you’re anxious to be going so I won’t hold you up any longer, plus I’ve got customers.”
       “Tell your father and mother, hi, for me.  And say a prayer, I’m leavin’ town tomorrow on a job…”


Echoes From the Campfire

Don’t give up on hope. It’s the last great thing you have.”
                    –Ken Pratt  (Dragon’s Fire)

       “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
                    –Romans 5:5 (NKJV)
Several years ago a friend of mine was working inside a building.  He was a contractor and was so caught up in his work that he didn’t notice his location.  Taking a step backwards he fell down the elevator shaft.  He had to be rushed to the hospital.  There were several broken bones and internal injuries.  He did survive the fall, but he was never the same.  Simply by not paying attention to his surroundings his life was changed.
       Asaph is the composer of Psalm 73 and quickly we find that he was somewhat jealous of those who, he thought, had a better lot in life.  He saw the wicked prosper and he thought it was unfair.  Because of their wickedness or their wealth they didn’t seem to have the problems of others.  Perhaps he wrote this Psalm to help heal his mind, for as Matthew A. Castille said, “Envy is a sickness that only faith can heal.”

               1 — Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart.
               2 — But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.
               3 — For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
               4 — For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm.
               5 — They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men.
               6 — Therefore pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment.  (NKJV)

       God is good to Israel, but to me, well, that is another matter.  It seems as though the promises of God are not meant for me.  Have you ever found yourself thinking those thoughts?  Have you ever found yourself envying the wicked or the wealthy?  Perhaps you are in a form of spiritual coma, and you are just merely going through the motions of life and your Christian experience.
       However, we cannot see into the hearts and minds of those who seem to have it made.  What problems are they facing in their lives?  I knew of a man who made between $5000-$10,000 a week.  Was he happy?  He had the best of everything…BUT he lost his family.  His wife left him for he was married to his career.  His two children were estranged from him, addicted to drugs, and had been in jail.  Was he happy?  He was wealthy, but what was the turmoil that was going on in his soul?
       Dwell on verse 2–almost…  Asaph says he “almost” stumbled, slipped and fell.  There was a saying in the old West that when a cowboy sold his saddle it was over for him.  He might not own a horse, most did not, but he had his saddle.  That term then moved on to other areas.  A man “almost” left his wife.  A man “almost” stole something.  A man “almost” committed suicide.  A man “almost” ….   But!  He did not sell his saddle, he almost slipped, but he remembered who he was.

                         “How good is the God we adore,
                         Our faithful, unchangeable Friend!
                         His love is as great as His power
                         And knows neither measure nor end!”
                                  –Joseph Hart