Echoes From the Campfire

Keep your eyes on the horizon and keep your .45 loaded and ready.”
              –Cliff Hudgins  (Viejo and the Ranger)

    “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way.”
              –Psalm 119:37 (NKJV)
The more I read from the saints that have gone on before, and the more I read from respectable Christian ministers today, the more I see that it is the quiet and still times that God works and ministers to the soul.  It is not the clamor of the drums, nor the busyness and hype that is needed but the calm soothing voice of the Holy Spirit.
    I’ve always enjoyed the serenity that I find in the mountains.  There is something about being in God’s great cathedral.  Some may say the ocean, or the desert, anywhere as long as there is the sound of quiet filling the air.  Sometimes there is the need to just get away and walk in God’s creation.
    Everyone takes and finds refuge in something.  For some it may be alcohol, or others gambling, others may seek the noise of the crowd or concert.  These are really not a refuge, but an escape.  There is a difference!  Life is such that no person is free from trouble.  “Responsibilities produce worry and tension.  Our tasks are often dangerous, monotonous, unpleasant.  People are sometimes difficult.  World conditions are disturbing and threatening.  Events occur daily to disturb and sadden our lives.  Death stalks our paths.” (Leonard S. Edmonds)  Do any of these fit your situation?  
    How do you escape?  Do you read, go to a concert or play, go to a movie?  Perhaps you gather with friends so you can gossip, ahem, I mean share your troubles and complaints.  Maybe there is a hobby that you seek out, or perhaps it is exercise that helps.  Often, way too often, we seek refuge in ways more harmful than helpful.
    Our refuge should be in Christ!  David writes, “In thee, O Lord, do I seek refuge.” (Psalm 31:1)  There are times when no other refuge is adequate.  Perhaps the ordinary troubles and anxieties of the day may be hidden in a hobby or friends, but there are those great tragedies when the only help is the Lord.  The times we live in are surely troubling and there is little that a person can do but turn to God.  He is our help, our strength, and our guide.
    Keep your eyes on the skies, and one day soon we’ll not only be telling troubles and toils goodbye, but we’ll be singing as we go upward to glory, “goodbye world, goodbye.”

Echoes From the Campfire

We all have debts to people of the past.  We cannot go back to those people, so our debts we pay to people who live now.  Somewhere, there is a bookkeeper.”
              –Elmer Kelton  (The Way of the Coyote)

    “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
              –Revelation 20:15(NKJV)
How many lives did Billy Graham touch for the Lord?  Only eternity will reveal that to us.  How many lives will you and I touch for the Lord?  It seems so small, maybe in comparison to Billy Graham, but all we are required to do is obey and use our gifts and talents for Him.  I recall the words from an old song,

         “If just a cup of water I place within your hand
          Then just a cup of water is all that I demand…”
                  –Ira F. Stanphill

Whatever God has placed within our hands He expects us to use.  Remember the story of Jesus in Matthew 25 about the master handing the talents to the servants.  Remember how they were used, or not used, and the result.
    There are two stories I would like to pass on.  One is about the wonderful Christian businessman, John Wanamaker.  In his younger life he wanted to be a missionary.  (Hmmm, back then all the youth were supposed to be preachers or missionaries.)  He kept seeking God to call him to the mission field, but the Lord said “No.”  Wanamaker accepted the answer from the Lord and was led to become a very successful department store owner, who by the end of his life was supporting ninety full-time missionaries.  In which way did he touch more people for the Lord?
    I recently read a story about a merchant in the times of the early church.  The story goes something like this, told by the hermit Palladius.

         “An elderly merchant named Apollonius renounced the world and moved to Mount Nitria.  Because of his age, he was not able to practice the austere way of life followed by others.  Instead, he used his own labor and resources to purchase all kinds of food and medicine in Alexandria.  He distributed these to all the monasteries, walking from door to door, looking for the sick.  He carried raisins, pomegranates, eggs, and wheat flour.  This was his unique ministry for Christ in his old age.  As he neared death, he turned over all of his supplies to another, asking him to take care of the five thousand monks living on the mountain.  Without this attention, many would not survive in such a desolate place.”  (Bernard Bangley, By Way of the Desert)

I like the term in the above passage, “his unique ministry.”  All of us have some type of ministry.  It may change throughout life, but there is always something we can be doing for the Lord and His kingdom.  Maybe it is to give a cup of cool water to someone along the way.  Maybe it is just to keep a smile and say “good morning” to those you meet for you don’t know what they’re going through and that smile might just be the thing to get them through the day.  Perhaps you may be called to get behind a pulpit and proclaim, “the Bible says…”  Whatever it is, reach out to fulfill what the Lord requires of you.

Echoes From the Campfire

Routine had a lulling effect upon the senses, and he knew his security demanded that he be alert at any moment for whatever might come.”
              –Louis L’Amour  (North to the Rails)

    “He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will become known.”
              –Proverbs 10:9 (NKJV)
There is no god like God.  Why should we worry or fret or tremble when the Lord God Almighty is watching over us?  Troubles, what are they to Him?  Toils and tears, He can quickly vanish them.  As you read this first part of Psalm 33, think of David sitting and contemplating God.  He might be alone, in the wilderness tending the sheep.

    1 – Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones; praise from the upright is beautiful.
    2 – Praise the Lord with the lyre; make music to Him with a ten-stringed harp.
    3 – Sing a new song to Him; play skillfully on the strings, with a joyful shout.
    4 – For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is trustworthy.
    5 – He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the Lord’s unfailing love.
    6 – The heavens were made by the word of the Lord, and all the stars, by the breath of His mouth.
    7 – He gathers the waters of the sea into a heap; He puts the depths into storehouses.
    8 – Let the whole earth tremble before the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
    9 – For He spoke, and it came into being; He commanded, and it came into existence.

Every day we should begin with praise.  Our praise should be fresh, joyful, and skillfully presented to Him.  If His mercies are new every morning, how much then should our praise be new every morning.
    We are new creatures, old things are gone.  Augustine said, “Put off oldness.  A new man, a new testament, a new song.  A new song does not belong to the old man; none learn it but new men, renewed through grace from oldness, and belonging now to the new testament.”  Do you belong to the old world, or born again into the new kingdom of God?  Then sing a new praise to Him.
    The earth trembles, the earth shakes, yet the world, the system of antichrist only mocks.  Mock now, one day it will tremble.  One day all will see Him as He is!  Oh, what a minute, the world does not tremble, they scorn and ridicule, but the shame of it is so do many Christians.  Take time to see the Lord and let your words be grateful for His majesty.

         “Then let our songs abound,
          And every tear be dry;
          We’re marching through Emmanuel’s ground
          To fairer worlds on high.”
                  –Isaac Watts

Echoes From the Campfire

Trouble often came out of nowhere to muddle up life.”
              –Cliff Hudgins  (Viejo and the Ranger)

    “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.”
              –1 Peter 3:14 (NKJV)
I’ve mentioned this week that we need to have fellowship with master disciples from the past, as well as the idea of developing a personal mission statement.  Today, I want to share something from General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s private writings.  I picked this up from Terry Tuley’s book, Battlefields of Blessing:  Civil War.
    We must always be people of integrity, men and women of honor and righteousness.  Ponder the following by General Jackson.

         1)  Through life let your principle object be the discharge of duty.
         2)  Disregard public opinion.
         3)  Sacrifice life rather than your word.
         4)  Endeavor to do well everything which you undertake.
         5)  Never speak disrespectfully without cause.
         6)  Spare no effort to suppress selfishness.
         7)  Avoid trifling conversation.

In his notes he further said, “Avoid bad company; there is danger of catching their habits.”
    Good character takes work.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  There must be trials, tests, storms that need come your way to help knock off the rough edges of your character.  The Holy Spirit has His part as well, and He will look to it.  Don’t hinder Him.
    In years past I have written much about a key word that few understand today–DUTY.  People have their agenda or follow an immoral agenda posted by others.  Few really understand the concept of true duty.  Solomon spent a life of misery.  Oh, he had wealth, fame, and power.  The world was at his fingertips, but when old age came his way he said it was all vanity.  There was one thing required:  DUTY.

         “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”
                   –Ecclesiastes 12:13(NIV)

Come to think of it, that would make quite a personal missions statement!