Echoes From the Campfire

Most folks set their sights too high. They demand too much of life… Let me tell you…the happy man is the man who is content with just what he needs…just so he has it regular.”

                         –Louis L’Amour  (Where the Long Grass Blows)

       “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.  For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'”
                         –Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)
Greetings from Maryland.  Vacation with my eldest is an enjoyable experience, but I didn’t want to leave you in the dark about to my health and whereabouts.  Trust you are staying well, calm, and are contented.  Speaking of contentment, I want to relay two stories that came to mind.  I remember a Gene Autry movie where there was a woman journalist from the East posing as a cattlewoman.  Gene asked her what type of cows she raised and she had no idea as to breeds when her eye caught the sight of a can sitting on a shelf:  Condensed Milk From Contented Cows.  She then promptly responded, “I raise contented cows.”  The second story also comes from a movie, The Northwest Passage.  The soldiers were starving living on only a few grains of corn.  One man blurted, “Don’t you get tired of corn?”  An elderly woodsman replied, “Nope.  I’m content with that.  Now, if I was to be expecting roast beef, sausages, and cabbage, I wouldn’t be content with a few grains of corn.”
       So I ask you–are you content?  Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.”  (4:11, NKJV)  Christians throughout the world have a better understanding of this verse than American Christians for we are seldom content.  We are not content with circumstances, with the food we have, we the vehicle we drive, and on I could go.  When a new phone comes out it has to be purchased for we are no longer content with the one with have.  Pintos and cornbread for supper–no way!  I want steak and a baked potato with all the fixings.  Or some of you would cry for tofu with greens.
       We need to relax and be content with the guidance of the Lord; thank Him for the blessings that He has bestowed upon you.  We need to learn to silence our soul before the Lord.  Here is a paraphrase of Philippians 4:11 by Jeremiah Burroughs, “I find a sufficiency of satisfaction in my own heart, through the grace of Christ that is in me.  Though I have not outward comforts and worldly conveniences to supply my necessities, yet I have a sufficient portion between Christ and my soul abundantly to satisfy me in every condition.”
       So what is contentment?  Burroughs puts it this way, “Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every direction.”  Contentment is quietness of the heart.  It is a heart that is not distracted by the things of the world, nor is it agitated when things seemingly go wrong.  It recognizes the working of the Holy Spirit throughout the circumstances and situations of life.  The heart is gracious and thankful that it walks in union with Christ recognizing the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  No matter what comes the soul rests in the Lord.
       One grows in contentment; it doesn’t come easily and it doesn’t come naturally.  It comes through the power of the Holy Spirit and faith in the Word of God knowing that God will take care of His children.  Learn to be content.  Burroughs writes, “To be well skilled in the mystery of Christian contentment is the duty, glory and excellence of a Christian.”
       Take a deep sigh, and I’ll write again when it is convenient.  We’ll be heading up to a cabin in Pennsylvania this weekend.  I will be content sitting in front of a campfire, enjoying God’s great cathedral of nature.  Let me pass on a saying that I saw in my travels since tomorrow is the first day of Fall.
                                   Autumn carries more Gold in its Pocket than All the other Seasons.
Therefore, be content with what comes your way, and also in the season of life in which you find yourself. 


Echoes From the Campfire

We don’t always get to choose the paths we travel down, but we can choose how we walk them.”
                         –Cliff Hudgins  (Veijo and the Lost Child)

       “For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.”

                         –Psalm 91:11 (HCSB)
Mercy me!  A couple of noteworthy things before I get to the devotion for today.  First of all, this September I will have been writing the “Daily Paine/Echoes From the Campfire for twenty-one years.  I started it back in September 2001, just prior to the attack on the Towers.  I changed the name from the Daily Paine a few years back when I retired.  Along with that I have been writing about Miles Forrest since February 2010.  Hard to believe.  With Miles Forrest there are now three novels for sale on Amazon about his life and adventures:  Return From Tincup; Winter of the Wolves; Call to Justice.  It has been interesting to say the least.
       Second, the ol’ steel mount is ready to go.  All the supplies have been packed tightly using a Double Diamond and the Lord willing we’ll be heading out in the morning for Maryland.  I made sure my slicker wasn’t packed on the bottom.  In saying that I’m not sure when an Echo will be sent out.  There may be several, there may be only a few, and if I take a notion to really relax, there may be none.  In the meantime, grab a copy of my new book about Elias Butler–Ticket to Danger.  It’s available on Amazon and is the sixth book about the life of Elias Butler.  The stories are made up but in reality Elias Butler was my Great-Great-Great Grandfather who was born in 1794 in Campbell, VA and died in 1875 in Morgan, TN.
       Now on to the thought of the day.  I am borrowing (again) from one of my favorite devotionals:  God Is No Fool, by Lois A. Cheney (1969).  I have used this little book over and over again for thoughts, for Echoes, and for my own personal contemplations.  Ponder the thoughts.

               “. . . and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
               Did you ever wonder what you would do in the time of crisis?  Days pass into months of seemingly endless safety, but there always lurks the sudden pain, the sudden grief, the unexpected interruption that jerks life from its normal path.

               I’ve watched some face the chasms of life and fail.  I’ve watched others face them and walk confidently across.

               As a Christian I feel a special obligation to face life.  But I’ve long wondered whether my faith would be strong enough; whether my courage would be broad enough; and whether I would be able, alone, to meet the challenge.

               And one time, it came like a dawning.  The Christ seemed to angrily remind me that a Christian never faces anything alone.  The great promise of Christ is to be  there, with his hand on our shoulders.

               We do not face life alone.

Remember that in the next pandemic, the next hurricane or other storm, the next blizzard, or while you thirst in the next drought.  In the midst of any and every crisis, storm, terror, or pestilence we do not face it alone.  And I’ll close this note like I do my Saturday Coffee Percs–Go With God!
        Vaya con Dios.

Echoes From the Campfire

I’m only a humble instrument, an’ I believe God guides me right.”
                         –Zane Grey  (The Mysterious Rider)

       “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”

                         –James 4:10(NKJV)
Sometimes I wonder, I really do.  We pray for revival, and rightly so, but has the nation gone too far?  Yes, there is always an “IF” clause with God with repentance, but even when the people repent, there are many times consequences that have been set in motion.  John Gardner wrote, “The renewal of societies and organization can go forward only if someone cares.  Apathy and lowered motivation are the most widely noted characteristics of a civilization on the downward path.”
       Upon studying the Book of Judges there seems to be a pattern:  sin, servitude, supplication, salvation, downward spiral.  It is that downward spiral that concerns me for each time it goes further and further down.  

               “And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers, by following other gods, to serve them and bow down to them.  They did not cease from their own doings nor from their stubborn way.”
                               –Judges 2:19(NKJV)

The people became more vile, more decadent, more perverse.  The following verses of Judges 2 tells of a woeful situation where God says, “I also will not longer drive out before them any of the nations which Joshua left before he died.” (2:21)  There seems to have come a point where God sends the consequences of the peoples’ actions.
       Let’s look at another example–King Manasseh.  Manasseh was indeed an evil man and king.  Read 2 Chronicles 33, and in verse 9, it says, “So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel.” (NKJV)  Manasseh is a sad story and he was taken “with hooks” and “bound with fetters” to Babylon.  In his captivity and affliction he “humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers…”  The Scriptures say that Manasseh “knew that the LORD was God.”  Here was genuine repentance.
       Yes, Manasseh repented, he tried to bring revival to the people upon his return.  He tried to undo all the evil that he had previously committed, but then we see that the people did not listen, but adhered to their evil ways.  “Nevertheless the people still sacrificed on the high places, but only to the LORD their God.” (33:17, NKJV)  They were worshipping God by using pagan practices and methods; in other words, worshipping with the practices of the world.  Too far gone, they faced judgment.
       I wrote the above to preface some startling statistics from Barna.  Have we faced the same downward spiral?  Have we, the people, gone too far?  Of Evangelicals, 39% says there is no absolute moral truth.  Startling!  Thirty-three percent believe that the Holy Spirit is not part of a “Trinity” but only a symbol of God’s power.  Another 30% say that salvation can come through good works.
       Now I ask, how far is too far?  The Book of Judges proclaims that the people “were in great distress.” (2:15)  It is important that we remember, that even though God has a plan for the Church, for every believer, there may come a time when they have to go into “captivity.”  When judgment came, all went to Babylon as slaves, even the righteous.  It is there we see the examples of Daniel and his friends.  How far is too far?  I have no idea, only God knows when the scales have tipped so far as to bring judgment.  There could be a national revival, but there could also be the return of the Lord and then true judgment would begin.


The Saga of Miles Forrest

I was standing outside of Solly Vendor’s tobacco shop telling him about my doings down in Socorro.  Solly liked to hear about places I’d been to and things I’ve seen.  He stood leaning against the post holding up the small awning over the boardwalk, puffing on one of his cigars.  Funny man, he sold the stuff, but didn’t like it to be smoked in his shop.  Of course, it was a little shop and a couple of men puffing on those big cigars could smoke it up real quick like.  Myself, I could care less, the stench of them is enough to make my face go sour.
       Solly was shaking his head as I was telling him about Elfego, when Stan Offut came out of the telegraph office which is right next to Solly’s place of business.  “Saw you standing out here Marshal and thought I’d save you a nickel and bring it out myself instead of sending one of the boys.”  A young kid, Jimmy Hopkins, is usually around to run the messages to folks.  I didn’t tell Stan, but I usually give Jimmy a dime.
       “What’s it say?” inquired Solly, trying to look over my shoulder.
       “Let me open it and read it first,” I replied.
       “It’s from Marshal Blasco down in Denver,” blurted Offut.  I stared at him, and he violently began shaking his head.  “No, I didn’t read it, honest,” he said, but then he laughed.  “I don’t have to, I’m the one who writes it down.  I already know what it says.”
       I gave a little grunt, but Solly guffawed right along with Stan.  “Well, stand back some, and give me a chance to read what it says.”
       Reading it out loud so Solly could hear, “Needed in Central City–STOP–President coming–STOP–Be there by the middle of the month–J. Blasco”
       Since Stan had left the door open, we all could hear his keys begin to clack.  He hurried off to check on the message.
       “What do you think that means?” questioned Solly, now holding the telegram and reading it to himself.
       “That’s not hard to understand; it means I’m to go to Central City because President Arthur is coming to town.”
       We were now talking about the President.  Solly saying that he thought the President was doing a good job, but that he was so removed from the people out here that it didn’t make much difference what he did.  Stan came back out to hand me another telegram.  
       “Stop by office in Denver first –J. Blasco”
      “Well, gentlemen, allow me to tell Molly before the two of you blab it all over town,” I uttered, then stepped off the boardwalk to head across the street to the diner.  Thoughts were fluttering through my mind as I crossed the dusty road and when I entered the diner they had sorta settled down.
       “Molly,” I hollered, figuring that she was in the kitchen.  Edith, Doc Jones’ wife, who was helping Molly since Marta had her baby to tend to, was wiping off tables.  There was no one else in the eatery.
       I hollered again.  She appeared at the entry to the kitchen.  “Miles, what is it?”
       “Come sit down,” I ordered.  I grabbed a cup and filled it with coffee as she approached.  I sat down, took a sip, then smiled up at her standing there.  “Want to take a trip to Denver and up to Central City?”
       A smile appeared on her face, lighting it up, but disappeared just as quickly.  “Miles, I can’t.  What brought this on?”
       “I’m ordered by Marshal Blasco to be there by the middle of the month.  I thought it would be a good trip for you since you haven’t traveled anywhere in ages.”  
       “It’s a nice thought, Miles, but I can’t leave, not with Marta out,” she informed me.
       “Sure you can,” blurted in Edith.  “We can find someone to take care of the baby and I don’t mind working a few more hours for a couple of weeks.”
       “Well, I don’t know…”
       “Go see Marta, now!” commanded Edith.  “I can handle things, just be back before the rush.
       I gulped down the rest of my coffee and nigh leaped from my chair to go with Molly.  We went out the entrance onto the boardwalk…
P.S.  Last of Miles for a time period.  He’s on his way to Denver, and the missus and I are on our way to Maryland.