Echoes From the Campfire

Take things as they come and stay cheerful.”
              –Elmer Kelton  (The Day the Cowboys Quit)

    “I know also, my God, that You test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. As for me, in the uprightness of my heart I have willingly offered all these things; and now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here to offer willingly to You.”
              –1 Chronicles 29:17 (NKJV)
Interesting how a person can look at something several times and it not see it.  I always like to teach a course, “Knowing God.”  If it is the first time I teach in a new church that is what I start with.  Often when I have a new class coming in, that is what I teach on.  There are many reasons for it, one is that few in the church, especially new converts, but I have even found it among old also, really contemplate God.  We can never learn enough about Him, and we can never exhaust of learning of Him.  Another reason is that it exhilarates my soul.  When I think of God, dwell upon Him, all I can say is a resounding “WOW!!!…”
    Last week I was doing my morning devotions and a thought struck home.  When I teach of God, I teach that He is complete.  His omnipotence never ends; He is infinite; there is no limit to His omniscience, and on.  God is limitless.  God is love.  Now here is where I stopped in my teaching and where I was hit with the devotion.  God is peace, God is wrath, God is just, God is…and the devotion was about joy.  God is full of joy!  He has infinite joy!
    When he looks at His creation it brings Him joy.  It brings satisfaction.  Stay with me, sure He was “disappointed” that man sinned, but He also knew that he would, and He had a plan.  There would be joy in the salvation of mankind.  See, God is so infinite in all His attributes–natural and moral–that He can be understood only partially.  Part of our purpose, perhaps our main purpose here on earth, is to come to know Him better.
    All of us, believers and nonbelievers, have experienced some of the joy of the Lord.  The breath we breathe is a gift from the Father and hopefully you find it joyful to be breathing in and out.  Have you ever stood on a precipice looking out over a vista, say the Grand Canyon?  Do you find beauty, do you find joy?  So does the heavenly Father in His creation of it, and in the pleasure that you are currently receiving from it.
    God is infinitely good and it pleasures Him to bless His children, here on earth and in heaven.  It gives Him joy, but it does not add to His joy for His joy is infinite and complete already.  WOW!!  Because of His joy, along with other attributes He is good, but that also is an infinite attribute in itself–Goodness, God is good!  Dallas Willard said, “All  of the good and beautiful things from which we occasionally drink tiny droplets of soul-exhilarating joy, God continuously experiences in all their breadth and depth and richness.”
    No wonder our toe goes to tapping:  “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in my heart…!”  And it’s, “Joy unspeakable and full of glory…oh, the half has never yet been told.” (B.E. Warren)  We have amazing grace, we have amazing love, and we should be living in amazing joy.

The Saga of Miles Forrest

Reaching out my hand, “Let me see that poster of Keim again.”  
    There was some hesitation as Shaw looked into my eyes then shifted them to glance at the Greener I was holding in my right hand.  He reached in his pocket for the folded paper and reluctantly handed it to me.
    I looked it over carefully.  He turned my eyes back to Shaw.  “Was this issued by the State of Kansas or any of the counties therein?”
    He sneered, “Don’t make no difference; it’s a wanted poster!”
    “Well, it makes quite the difference.  People can go makin’ up their own wanted posters that would make them an accessory to murder.  Now from what I understand from Mr. Keim is that this was issued by the Langford family.”
    Shaw’s eyes widened and he started to jump up from his chair when I gently, well sorta gently put the Greener on his shoulder.  “Just stay seated!”
    I tapped the Greener on his cheek.  “Let me tell you straight, and I’ll tell you only once.  Anything happens to Conrad Keim, whether he is killed or disappears, I will hunt you down.  I’ll make sure you hang.”
    Hatred entered his eyes making me wonder if my name was added to his poster.  I had him pretty well figured out.  He wasn’t a tough man, but a cheap, weak sample of a man.  He wasn’t the type who would face up to anyone, but would only come from their blindside, shooting  them in the back.
    “I am waiting for a telegram from the U.S. Marshal’s office in Kansas awaiting information concernin’ this poster.  If it says what I think it will say I’m comin’ for you,” I informed him, not bothering to tell him I hadn’t sent the telegram to them, yet.
    “What for?” he almost screamed.  “I haven’t done anything.”
    I tapped his cheek again with the Greener.  “You pointed a gun and threatened an innocent citizen.  You are tryin’ to enforce an illegal wanted poster and by pointin’ that gun of yours I could imply it was a threat of murder,” I paused for him to think about it.  “Plus, you have disturbed the peace of this town, and agitated me to no end.  I don’t like that.”
    He snatched the poster back.  “Can’t Keim take care of himself or does he always hide behind yur skirts?”
    Well, that did it.  I raised the Greener to give him a little thump alongside the head.  Nothing to really hurt, but enough to get his attention.  He did right well, for he maintained a sitting position in his chair with the thump.  I did see his hand move toward his pistol.
    “That would not be real bright,” I muttered then smiled.
    By now his eyes blazed bright with hate.  “Shaw, you ought to leave town.  I can’t be around to protect you all the time and,” I turned to look at Keim then back to Shaw, “I think that Keim would easily take care of you.  That is if you dared to face him.”
    He was breathing deeply.  “Can I leave now?” he asked with a snarl.
    “Why surely,” I responded.  Shaw stood up knocking the chair over as he did and started to walk off.  I put the Greener out in front of him barring his retreat.  “Forget somethin’?” I pointed to the chair.
    His jaws tightened, he was not a happy person, but finally he remembered some manners taught by his mother, bless her soul, or maybe it was the 12-gauge shotgun I held but he reached down to pick up the chair scooting it under the table.  I couldn’t make it out but he was muttering something under his breath.
    “Speak up!  Don’t let there be secrets between us.  If’n your makin’ a threat I’d like to know.”
    He didn’t say any more just stalked off.  Just before he got to the door, I hollered, “Shaw, remember my job is to keep the peace and protect the citizens of this town.”  He glanced at me then proceeded out the door.  I turned my attention to Keim.  “That goes for you as well.”
    I went back to my table setting the Greener on the table then picked up my cup of cold coffee.  Leaving it on the table I went to the counter for a new cup and poured a fresh cup.  “Sorry gentlemen,” I said after sitting.  “Part of the job.”
    Reverend Chapman rubbed his chin then spoke, “Well, that was entertaining.  Is that typical?”
    Giving him a glance then over to the Rev. Robinson, who I thought was trying to hide a smile.  I took a sip before answering.  “No, it was done special for the new pastor,” then lifted my cup for a deeper swallow.  “Just count it toward the offering this Sunday.”
    That brought an actual chuckle from Rev. Robinson.  Molly came up to the table at that time.  “What’s so funny?  I just thought I’d see if you gentlemen were ready for your pie…”

Echoes From the Campfire

When corruption is visited upon the cities of men, the mountains and the deserts await him.  The cities are for money but the high-up hills are purely for the soul.”
              –Louis L’Amour  (Galloway)

    â€œ’If you will return, O Israel,’ says the Lord, ‘Return to Me; And if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, Then you shall not be moved.'”
              –Jeremiah 4:1 (NKJV)
When you look at this country do you grieve, cry inside?  How about your life, are there  tears wanting relief from the Lord? Perhaps the following Echo and study of the Psalms fits the situation in the world and/or you life.  God doesn’t make mistakes and the Spirit will talk to hearts.  I willingly admit that much of what I am using today comes William and Randy Petersen.
    Praising the Lord and thanksgiving is usually what we think of when thinking of the Psalms, however there are more than fifty psalms that are laments.  What is a lament in the Psalms?  

     1)  Addressing God with a cry for help.
               “Listen to my prayer, O God.  Do not ignore my cry for help!”  –Psalm 55:1
     2)  Referring to God’s blessing in the past or to his character.
               “O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask your aid.”  –Psalm 86:5
     3)  Describing the cause of distress.
               “They are always twisting what I say; they spend their days plotting ways to harm me.”  –Psalm 56:5
     4)  Confessing trust and confidence.
               “You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my place of safety.”  –Psalm 59:9
     5)  Asking God to hear and deliver.
               “Please, LORD, rescue me!  Come quickly, LORD, and help me.”  –Psalm 40:13
     6)  Further questioning and petitioning.
               “Please, don’t punish me anymore!  I am exhausted by the blows from your hand.”  –Psalm 39:10
(taken from The One Year Book of Psalms, New Living Translation for scriptures)

    A lament “is a psalm in which the psalmist is troubled and seeking deliverance.  He is going through a time of physical, spiritual, or emotional distress, which may be caused by something within him or by something outside of him, such as an attacking enemy.”  
    There is a cry to God for help and in these “he displays his confidence that God will hear and answer him.”  There may be praise for the coming answer.  There is also often no resolution but only faith that God will answer and help.  Look at today, are you grieving for this country?  It should hurt our heart at what is going on.  How God is mocked, how the past of this wonderful nation is scorned.  There should be cries of lamentation.  (In fact, a good reading for the week would be Jeremiah’s book of Lamentations.  See why the prophet is crying, and his faith in God.)
    “Like the psalmist in ancient times, we encounter difficulties and struggles and need God’s help.  Sometimes our problems are brought about by our own sin.  Other times our problems are physical in nature.  Still other times our problems stem from some emotional difficulty.  Whatever the case, the psalmists have shown us that we can cry out to God and express our distress.  We can do so with confidence that God is listening and will reach out to us.”
    Sometimes God “blesses” us with a lament.  That may seem strange, but there is a time to grieve and cry.  That you recognize that and that you thank God in the midst is itself a blessing.  Knowing that God is there is a blessing.  He is always there to hear your heart’s cry.

              “Jesus knows all about our struggles,
               He will guide till the day is done;
               There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,
               No, not one!  no, not one!”
                     –Johnson Oatman

Coffee Percs

Over a steaming cup of freshly ground, first-rate, up-and-at-‘em juice, we got each other apprised of the present pretty quick.”
              –J. Lee Butts (Ambushed)

   What’s yuh shakin’ yur head for?  Well, I certainly agree with yuh, Pard, this world is a mess.  I just can’t figure out what’s wrong with some of the foolishness that’s happenin’ in our country except for the fact that they won’t accept the Lord.  They’re bent on their own selfish and nonsensical desires.  A good, strong cup of coffee will not solve the problem but it might happen to help yuh judge the stupidity of the situation more clearly.
    Pard, it sure works on my gizzard to be talkin’ of politics.  What has happened to good ol’ country pride?  It has been warped into somethin’ bizarre.  Yur accursed if you stand for the flag, fly it in yur yard, and sing the “Star-Spangled Banner.”  Let me fill the cups again, my gizzard is actin’ up an’ I haven’t got started yet.
    Let’s move on to somethin’ different.  Did yuh know that today is Colorado Day?  Yep, Colorado became a state back in 1876.  Talk about some hard times:  miners, cowboys, clashes with the Indians, mountain men and with statehood it became “civilized.”  It stayed that way up until the 1960s then it leaped “forward” or “progressed” as they say today because they were so much more enlightened than the rest of the country, except perhaps California.  Ha, enlightenment takes a toll, but the problem is that most don’t care or are so blind they can see the truth anymore.
    Since the gizzard is already riled, let me add one thing I saw.  Educators are beginnin’ to say that World War II shouldn’t be taught in school.  It is too intense, and they further said that the youth of today are not of the mind-set to be able to handle such intensity.  My mercy, no wonder they want everythin’ handed to them.  They cry for socialism, but they don’t realize because of their limp brains that socialism would require them to work.  The grandaddy of the “state” won’t just dole out free food.  Ahhh, take a sip–let’s get back to the coffee.
    Truth is, this coffee is delicious!  But some of those enlightened folk would make it into a “cino”.  Ruin the whole pot by doin’ that.  Listen, truth is truth an’ there’s no doubt about it.  It is not relative, it is not dependin’ upon the whims of bureaucrats or educators.  All they want to give yuh is some fake, false, or artificial.  “I am the truth…” declared Jesus.  Pard, grab hold of that in these troublesome times.
    There’s another truth yuh need to be aware of an’ I keep remindin’ yuh, always check yur cinch!