Echoes From the Campfire

It’s always good to be hungry when you’re in the woods…. Because when you get back to camp or back home, near starved to death, everythin’ tastes so good, an’ you feel as if you never knew how good food is.”
                    –Zane Grey  (Under the Tonto Rim)

       “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name.”

                    –Psalm 97:12 (NKJV)
               “God is so good,
                God is so good,
                God is so good,
                He’s so good to me.”

And, let me tell you friend–He’s good to you, too!  Tomorrow, while the turkey is roasting, while the pies are baking and all of the other wonderful food for the dinner is being prepared think on the goodness of God.  
       Some people may be under dire circumstances, I want you to know that God is good.  Many may have lost a loved one this past year–God is still good.  He sustains us, His grace is always there and His mercy endures forever.  God is good!
       God is good in the happy times, when we often forget Him, and He is good in the bad times when we run to Him in despair, or become bitter because He doesn’t do what we want Him to do.  
       God is good in the midst of the storm; when we think He is off somewhere sleeping.  He is there in the storms with us.  God is good even when we cannot see what He is doing in our lives.  He is good when we get upset with the way things turn out, because He sees the road ahead of us.  He is good even in those many times that we do not understand.
       Think of that little song we used to sing in Sunday School–God is so good.  Never lose sight of that fact.  In closing this little note for Thanksgiving I want to take you to the grand little song by James P. Sullivan.  It’s another one of those songs that came out of the Great Depression.

               “There is a song in my heart today,
                Something I never had;
                Jesus has taken my sins away,
                Oh!  say, but I’m glad.

               Wonderful, marvelous love He brings,
               Into a heart that’s sad;
               Thro’ darkest tunnels the soul just sings,
               Oh! say but I’m glad.

                       Oh! say, but I’m glad, I’m glad,
                       Oh! say, but I’m glad;
                       Jesus has come and my cup’s overrun;
                       Oh! say, but I’m glad.”

       Our Pastor preached a great Thanksgiving sermon last Sunday.  In it he mentioned something that I’ve always believed (though, not always practiced).  It is wonderful that we have this national day of Thanksgiving.  A day when families can get together, a day when people throughout this country are doing the same thing–giving thanks.  But truly, honestly–everyday for the Christian should be one of Thanksgiving!  “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NKJV).

The Saga of Miles Forrest

Thursday promised to be a grand day.  Several men had been out hunting so there was plenty of venison, elk, and even bear for the meal.  Maybe some time someone would take a notion to start a turkey farm, but until then we’ll continue to eat wild game.  I remember a few times I was fortunate enough to shoot some grouse and prepared them for the Thanksgiving table.
       “You gonna sit and day-dream all day?” came the voice of Doc Jones that brought me back to reality.  I was warm and comfortable sitting by the stove and drinking coffee.  Maybe I was getting too comfortable for my age and should be out sleeping in the cold, freezing near to death.  Nah, did that too many times, I think I’ll choose comfort, but don’t want to forget where the Lord has brought me from. 
       “I think I saw those miscreants you mentioned around town,” he uttered, rubbing his chin.  “You want to know what I think?  I think they’re up to no good.  You better keep an eye on them.”
       He didn’t give me a chance to answer his question, but when he finished I replied.  “Doc, that’s just speculation.  Jumpin’ to conclusions.”  But I knew he was right.  “I told Charlie and Mateo about them.  They’re aware of the situation.  Besides, what do you want me to do?
       “Nothin’!” he roared.  “Just sit there and drink your coffee!”
       Molly happened to come by when Doc went on his tirade.  “Doc, what’s rilin’ you?”
       His face turned grim.  “This town.  They won’t hire a good marshal.  They won’t hire Miles here, and then I get all worked up and take it out on him,” he said, then paused to look at me.  “Miles, I’m sorry…but I’ll tell you this, something’s going to happen.”
       Molly smiled, then asked me.  “Did you ask John and Jewelene to come over Thursday?  And…”
       “And yes, I talked with Wilson and Elizabeth.  He said he would have to think it over.  It might depend upon the weather,” I informed her.  “I went to see Darnelle tellin’ her that I wanted them to be our special guests and I didn’t want Wilson to be makin’ any excuses.”
       “For that, husband of mine, you get a kiss,” she looked around to make sure there weren’t any customers watching, then pecked me on the cheek.

       There was a groan from Doc, “Come on you guys, cut the mush.”
       “Lucas and Mateo have already told me that they would personally carry Wilson down to the diner,” I said with a laugh. 
       Doc joined in, “I would almost pay to see that.”
       We were enjoying laughing when Marta came by.  “Is that all you’re going to do all day, sit around and laugh while I do all the work?” she asked smartly.
       The eyebrows on Doc’s face raised when he heard the smart remark from Marta.  “Why no, Marta,” replied Molly.  “What is it that I can help you with?  I notice that there is only one table with customers.  Is that too much for you to handle?”
       Daggers shot from Marta’s eyes.  She threw the washcloth she was carrying over her shoulder then stomped off to the kitchen.  Molly was shaking her head.  “I shouldn’t have said that.  She and Charlie are still fighting over the fact that he is sheriff and is now planning on resigning.  Then throw Lucas into the mix.”
       “What do we do?” asked Doc seriously.  
       Molly reached over the table to take Doc by the hand.  “Pray, Doc, pray…and be her friend.”
       I saw Doc wink at her and nod when the door blasted open and the hardcases walked in finding a table next to the window.  Molly hastened to her feet then headed to their table.  The men were chattering when she approached to take their order.  I watched while each of them gave their order, but noticed that two were leering at Molly.  Doc was watching as well and I heard him grunt in disgust.  Molly left to grab cups from the counter taking them back to the table, then went to retrieve the coffeepot to fill their cups.
       She was moving around the table, doing her job when I saw one of the men pat her backside.  Molly stopped, “You try something like that again and you’ll feel this hot pot against the side of your face,” she hissed.  Glancing my way, she shook her head letting me know that she had it under control.
       To try and calm the situation she asked, “You gentlemen in town on business, looking for work?”
       That brought a laugh from one man, “You could say we’re passing through on the way to a job.”
       She continued to banter with them asking.  “What kind of work are you in?  You don’t look like cowpunchers to me.”
       The same man started to reply when the one facing me, who had a granite face, jabbed him in the ribs.  “Ma’am just bring our food.”
       He had caught me staring at them, our eyes met and held for several seconds as Molly left for the kitchen.  Finally he turned to join in the conversation at the table.  There was no more talk when minutes later Molly brought their food.  After serving them, she came by the table.  “I’m going out back.  Marta’s not in the kitchen…”

Echoes From the Campfire

Occasionally, though, you have to get through the rougher times to reach the unimaginable blessings on the other side of the darker times of living in this world.”

                         –Kenneth S. Pratt  (The Wolves of Windsor Ridge)

       “I will make them and the places all round My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing.”
                         –Ezekiel 34:26 (NKJV)
          1 — God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us,    Selah
          2 — That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.
          3 — Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You.
          4 — Oh, let the nations be glad and sing for joy!  For You shall judge the people righteously.  And govern the nations on earth.      Selah
          5 — Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You.
          6 — Then the earth shall yield her increase; God, our own God, shall bless us.
          7 — God shall bless us, and all the ends of the earth shall fear Him.
                               –Psalm 67:1-7 (NKJV)

Why should God be merciful to us?  Give one good reason?  Is it for your self-satisfaction, or self-promotion?  Verse 2 tells us why, so that His way will be known.  We should want God to bless us so that we can be a testimony.  “God puts His name on us to advance His own agenda in this world.  He wants me to be Christ-centered rather than self-centered.”  (George O. Wood).
       There used to be a chorus sung in the church back in the 1970s and 80s, “I’m blessed, I’m blessed, I’m blessed…”  Really what most Christians were singing and not realizing it was, “I’m spoiled, I’m spoiled, I’m spoiled…”  It was “bless me Lord.”  Not “bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me…”  Far too often we want self-gratification, after all we’re God’s children.  Ah, but children must learn the lessons of life–the lessons of the Spirit.  God’s blessings are not to spoil us, but to build the kingdom of God.
       We forget that the Lord paid a dear price for our salvation–His precious blood.  Ponder that, He paid for us.  Hmmm, that speaks of ownership.  Oh my, not a popular thought in this day.  Being owned–God owning us.  We need to get to the point of being able to truthfully and honestly say, “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).  When we finally give our lives over to Him, when we fully surrender everything, then we will realize the depth of God’s blessings.  They come because of our obedience; they come because of His love.
       Understand that part of being thankful is praising the Lord.  This week of Thanksgiving take time to genuinely thank the Lord for His blessings.  Take time to name them, then praise Him and thank Him for them.  You’ll be amazed.

                    “Let all the world in every corner sing, ‘My God and King!’
                     The church with psalms must shout; no door can keep them out.
                     But more than all, the heart must bear the longest part,
                     Let all the world in every corner sing, ‘My God and King!'”
                               –George Herbert

Coffee Percs

Before I could scoot my chair closer to the table, a cup of coffee was set in front of me and a sweet voice spoke.”

                    –D.C. Adkisson  (The Shepherd)
Welcome, Pard, sure was hopin’ yuh’d show up this mornin’.  I need some help as I’ve been strugglin’ with something I’ve been ponderin’ most of the week.  Sure, I’ll pour the coffee first.  Priorities right?  Well, let me get right down to it.  Oh, yuh need to taste the brew first,  Hot enough for yuh?  Strong enough for yuh?  Or do yuh need some of the cream to make a latte?  Cino!!!  Pard, yuh have to be kiddin’ me!
       Whew, I was a mite worried ’bout yuh for a second.  Glad yuh were just teasin’.  Cino, my ol’ Grandpa would be rollin’ over in his grave.  Now to my ponderin’ if’n yuh don’t mind.  Here it is:  has our nation turned into a carnival or is it a circus?  Let that soak in yur pea-brain for a minute.  That there’s some difficult thinkin’.  
       I remember as a kid goin’ to the carnival.  There was always a couple that came to town durin’ the year.  They had all kinds of rides, but they all had one thing in common–they all went around in circles.  Yep, the circle might have ups and downs like one of them small rolly-coasters, but it was still in a circle.  That merry-go-round went around and ’round and there would be some horses that went up and down whilst it was goin’ round and round.  Then there were a few rides, Tilt-O-Whirl, where the half-basket shaped seat would spin around as the whole contraption went around.  Now ponder that, and if’n that don’t sound like what’s goin’ on in some places in this country, I’ll eat my hat.  I mean them politicians up in Washington haven’t a clue as to what they’re a-doin’–just goin’ ’round and around.  Up and down, and ’round and ’round.
       Now to the other show–the circus.  I’ve been to a few in my lifetime.  They always kept the ferocious beasts in cages worried to let them out.  But what I want to bring to yur attention is the show.  Sometimes there was a one-ring circus, like we saw in that court case this week with those lawyer a-jawin’ and the media a-frettin’ and tryin’ to worry the jury.  Other times, we have a regular three-ring circus a-goin’.  But what I see is the problem with the circus, there ain’t no ring-master to control it.  The President ain’t in charge, poor ol’ feller can’t hardly think for himself.  His partner can’t be found half the time and she just reminds me of a clown laughin’ ’bout most everything–things that ain’t even funny.  And that Mouth who they call the Speaker, my mercy, I cringe when I see her.
       So Pard, which is we?  Carnival or circus.  We have spectators watching.  Some close up, some from afar.  Yuh don’t finished that cup?  Reckon ponderin’ does make a person a mite thirsty.  Still have some coffee in the pot.
       While yur sippin’ and ponderin’ I know Thanksgivin’ is comin’ up.  My, what a wondrous holiday to stop for a spell and thank the good Lord for all His blessin’s to us.  Why, as I wrote above, I think of the many times my sweet wife poured me a cup of coffee or slid a piece of pie in front of me.  She’s a wonder–she’s had to be to put up with me all these years.
       Pard yuh be ponderin’ that question until next I see yuh.  Don’t worry yur brain too hard that yuh miss out on the pumpkin pie, or forget to check yur cinch.
      Vaya con Dios.