Echoes From the Campfire

I just know that this world is full of evil. There are men who prey on the weak and the helpless and don’t care who they hurt.”
                         –D.C. Adkisson  (Outlaws of Boulder Canyon)

       “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

                         –Revelation 2:7 (NKJV)  
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How to Live in a Pagan, Apostate, and Foolish World

Key Verse:  “We know that we are children of God and that the world around us is under the power and control of the evil one.”  –1 John 5:19 (NLT)

I have been pondering lately the days of Noah.  “As it was in the days of Noah so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26, NKJV).  It must have been pretty terrible in those days for the Lord to destroy all the inhabitants of the earth with a flood except the family of Noah.  Peter informs us that eventually the Lord’s patience finally had enough and He brought the flood upon the earth (1 Peter 3:20).  How far are we from that point?  “The world is opposed to God in its outlook, in its mind, in its mentality, in its own wisdom–worldly wisdom” (Lloyd-Jones).  
       One of the things we have to be aware of and guard against is the carnal mind.  “The carnal mind is enmity against God:  for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7)  Another version states that this mind is “hostile to God.”  Just what is the “carnal mind”?  It is a mind that fights God; it thinks that God (if there is one) is an enemy.  The carnal mind is a selfish mind, a mind that puts self above God and all else.  It is a mind that thinks it is self-reliant.  It does not need God.  My, just look at all of the self-help books and tools that are available.  With all of these, who needs God?  It is a highly ambitious mind that seeks to prove to the world that everything is under control.  It is the mind that reflects the words of the song, “I did it my way.”  It is a mind that seeks to indulge the flesh and its lusts.  It is a mind that would rather enjoy life in comfort and ease rather than work for a living.  These are all symptoms of a carnal mind–a mind that is an enemy of God.
       It is vital in these last days to see the real meaning of the World.  To understand the agenda that the world has–one of power and control.  The world is out to dominate everyone in one way or another.  One day, soon I believe, that there will be a one-world system of finance, a one-world method of identification, a one-world means of knowing what a person is doing and where he is going.  If you don’t think so, just look at what is happening throughout the world in regard to the virus vaccine.  
       The Christian is no longer under the dominion of Satan; they are out of his kingdom, this kingdom of the world.  However, that does not mean they are finished with fighting Satan, in fact, it means that the fight will intensify.  More and more pressure will be placed upon the Christian.  This pressure will take many different forms depending on the location and the individual.  It may be suffering, it may be an fight for survival.  It might also come in subtly.  Watch out for what I call the three “Cs”:  compromise, complacency, and curiosity.  These are deadly.
       Years ago, I was counseling a parent of a wayward child.  The parent had tried many things to control the child’s behavior.  I told her that she might have to turn him over to the Lord.  She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “I’m afraid of what the Lord might do.”  Sounds crazy–to have the wrong kind of fear of the Lord.  Our purpose as we go through life is to trust Him.  “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way…” (J.H. Sammis)  One of the dangers that is facing many is to live in fear.  Fear of the virus, fear of being exposed, fear of going outside.  This is not the life we are to lead.  This is not a life of victory or of overcoming the world.  This is being controlled by the world and the evil one.  We need to put all–get that, all–our trust in the Lord.  

                      “So we may boldly say:  ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?’”
                                   –Hebrews 13:6 (NKJV)

I like the way that Phillips renders this verse, “I will not fear…”

 

Echoes From the Campfire

A man is born beside the road to death. To die is not so much, it is inevitable. The journey is what matters, and what one does along the way. And it’s not that he succeeds or fails, only that he has lived proudly, with honor and respect, then he can die proudly.”

                    –Louis L’Amour  (The Ferguson Rifle)

       “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
                    –Romans 5:3 (NKJV)
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               “Therefore, believers, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you [be sure that your behavior reflects and confirms your relationship with God]; for by doing these things [actively developing these virtues], you will never stumble [in your spiritual growth and will live a life that leads others away from sin].”
                              –2 Peter 1:10 (Amplified)

       I used this verse yesterday from the NKJV but I want to look at it again in the light of the verses preceding it.  Notice that we are to be diligent to make certain about His calling.  We do that by growing in grace, growing in the virtues that are within us to make us more Christ-like.  Our life has been equipped with virtues that we must add to.  Someone commented that we add virtue to virtue.  We grow.  Moffat stated that, “the Christian life must not be an initial spasm followed by a chronic inertia.”  
       Matthew writes that we are to be “perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  Oh my, but how?  Or maybe I should use an exclamation mark.  How to be perfect!  Sometimes we need to study what words means.  The Amplified clarifies this for us, “You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Perfect is growing into spiritual maturity.  In other words, “be mature”!
       Turn your attention back to 2 Peter and look at the virtues that should be present in our lives.  

               “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brother kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.”
                                –2 Peter 1:5-7 (NKJV)

We start off with faith–“for by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8).  We start with faith.  Faith is the conviction that what Christ said is true and we can commit ourselves to His promises.  It is unquestioning certainty.
       We add to faith–virtue.  Virtue speak of excellence.  It is not a life of mediocrity that we are to live, but one of excellence in serving Christ.  We do it to the best of our ability.  This makes a man a good citizen and a good friend.  He is to be an expert in the technique of living well (I like that).  There is no excuse for cowardice in the Christian life, therefore virtue has that trait of courage.
       Add knowledge now to virtue.  This is practical knowledge, the ability to apply to particular situations the knowledge that we have gained.  This helps a man to rightly decide then to act honorably and efficiently in the day-to-day circumstances of life.
       Then to knowledge is added self-control.  The term means literally the ability to take a grip of oneself.  Self-discipline is important as we go through life.  I remember a situation when I was in college.  One of the guys in the dorm came steaming down the hallway, his girlfriend had broken up with him.  He was angry and slammed his fist into the sheetrock only to hit a place where there was a 2×4 behind the sheetrock breaking bones in his hand.  Lack of self-control can lead to disastrous problems in our lives.  Our passions must become the servant, not the master.
       Perseverance or maybe better Steadfastness.  This is more than mere patience.  The Latin sage Cicero said this about steadfastness, “The voluntary and daily suffering of hard and difficult things, for the sake of honor and usefulness.”  It is why Paul says to be thankful in all things realizing that God is with us and knows what is best for our lives.  Barclay says, “It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can do to us and the transmuting of even the worst event into another step on the upward way.”
       Add to steadfastness godliness (piety).  There are two parts to godliness here.  First, the person always correctly worships God and gives Him His due.  Then following the person correctly serves his fellow-men and gives them their due.  It is a benefit to the Kingdom of God and to the community in which the person resides.  He is of benefit to God and others. (Barclay)
       Brotherly affection is “love of the brethren.”  We are to love the brethren, those in the body of Christ.  We are in the same family.  We should not be annoyed by relational interruptions but continue to let love abound.  In saying this we are to love as Christ loved (agape).  This is a love from God and is impossible for man without the help of the Holy Spirit.
       2022, let it be a year where you climb and confirm your calling.  Grow in maturity (be perfect).  Take one step at a time, yet don’t forget to look forward at the horizon, the grand view of what God has for us.

Echoes From the Campfire

To live with danger was a way of life, but we did not think of it as danger, merely as part of all that we must face in the natural order of living.”
                         –Louis L’Amour  (Killoe)
 
       “And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.  For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.  And always be thankful.”
                         –Colossians 3:15(NLT)
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I told the story of a family that has spent the last two years cloistered in their home.  They had not ventured out for two years in fear of the virus that has come upon our land.  These people claim to be Christians yet I wondered what their walk with the Lord is like.  It’s plain to see that it must be very shallow.  They live in fear, not trusting in the Lord and in common sense.  How can they begin to fulfill the Great Commission?  How can they have real fellowship with other believers?  What type of armor have they put on?
       In the front of my journal notebook I keep a few quotations.  One of which is the following by Zane Grey.
 
“You must live your life.
Make it worth while.
Every man, every woman has a burden.
Lift yours cheerfully and begin to climb…
Love those with whom fate has placed you.
And fight–
fight the dark moods,
the selfish thoughts, the hateful memories!
Work…Love.”
 
I wonder if the devil has duped us into thinking that we will be safe in our homes, that the Lord will honor us for being cozy and comfortable.  I seem to have read that we are to take up our cross–daily.  We are to redeem the time for the days are evil, which means we need to be out doing, not cowering in our closets.  We are to live a life of faith, for without faith it is impossible to please God.
       I recall the writings of Peter:  “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”  (2 Peter 1:2-3, NKJV)  There must be a continuous forward moral progress in our lives.  Our lives must cooperate with that of the Holy Spirit.  Someone said that “Faith is not only commitment to the promises of Christ; it is commitment to His demands.”   Sure we use common sense in our daily lives as we walk with Him, but we must go about living:  Work…Love.  Barclay writes, “Faith does not exempt a man from works; the generosity of God does not absolve a man from effort.  Life is at its noblest and its best when our effort cooperates with God’s grace to produce the necessary loveliness.”
       Do something with your life for the Kingdom of God this year.  Don’t cower on your couch.  Don’t fear the world.  Possibly you might have to confront your fears, you might have to fight the dark moods that come upon you, in other words you might have to fight–be like Paul and fight the good fight of faith.  Peter writes that “be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.” (2 Peter 1:10, NKJV)

Echoes From the Campfire

A murky, yellow-tinged blackness hung low over the city. He recollected that stars, and sunrises and sunsets, and untainted air, and silence were not for city dwellers.”

                    –Zane Grey  (The Call of the Canyon)

       “You take care of the earth and water it, making it rich and fertile.  The rivers of God will not run dry; they provide a bountiful harvest of grains, for you have ordered it so.”
                    –Psalm 65:9 (NLT)
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We live in a strange, confused, and chaotic world.  The foundations of culture are being challenged; the postmodernists are doing their best to deconstruct society.  There is a major attempt to control the narrative–the history, the stories, the truths–of this nation.  He who controls the thoughts and the stories controls the culture.  Therefore, you can see why there is such a fight.
       The world is becoming more and more urbanized, therefore, making it easier to come under the control of the “elite.”  There are some hardy people who are “homesteading” going back to nature if you please and this is contrary to the will of those in power.  These individuals are refusing the collectivism offered to them.  Is it becoming harder and harder to appreciate the work of our Creator.  We do not take real notice of the seasons and what they bring to us.  Some will leave the city long enough to take a look at God’s great creation.  They will ooh and ahhh at what they see, but really do they go beyond that?  Flannery O’Connor wrote, “For me, the visible universe is a reflection of the invisible universe.”  Now, don’t worry, I am not getting all “New-Agey” on you.  But to look upon God’s creation, and for some to live in it, there is something definitely beyond the physical realm.
       People long for nature.  If you don’t think so why do they flock to the beach or go to the mountains?  They want to stay in their cars, or go “glamping.”  We purchase a loaf of bread without thinking of God who provided the means for it.  I was talking the other day with a friend about the weather.  We both agreed that in the “old days” we just went in spite of the weather, come what may.  I know, today’s generations would say that was foolish, that we should be prepared.  To a point I agree, but once you know the weather, and once you have your plans, why keep going back to look?
       It’s Monday, and you are probably wondering how all of what I have written relates to the Psalms.  If you have been following along on Monday, or if you have taken the time to read the Psalms you will notice that the writers were very interested in nature.  Let me give you a few to ponder from the New Living Translation.

               “The voice of the LORD splits the mighty cedars; the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon.”  –29:5
               “The voice of the LORD twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare.  In his Temple everyone shouts, ‘Glory!'”  –29:9
               “The mountains were covered with our shade; the mighty cedars were covered with our branches.”  –52:8
               “But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.”  –92:12
               “Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise before the Lord!  For the LORD is coming!”  –96:12-13

Notice that these verses have one thing in common besides nature–trees and forests (in fact, there are over three hundred references in the Bible to trees alone).  The writers of the Psalms speak of rivers clapping “their hands in glee” (98:8).  The hillsides blossom with joy (65:13).  The Psalms remind us that it is God that supplies food for ourselves and our livestock.  
       Take time this week to praise God for His marvelous nature.  For the colors, for the food, for bring beauty.  Praise Him when you see the billows roll and crash upon the rocks at the seaside.  Praise Him if you look over some grand mountain vista in awe of the majesty before you.  Take a bite of bread and thank Him for the grain that He allows to grow.

               “Fair are the meadows, fairer still the woodlands,
                Robed in the blooming garb of spring;
                Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
                Who makes the woeful heart to sing.”
                            –unknown