Echoes From the Campfire

He is a man, born to poverty and hard work, weaned on nothing, fed on less, raised to make to do with least possible and make the most of that.”
              –Jack Schaefer  (“Stubby Pringle’s Christmas”)

    “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire; that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.”
              –Revelation 3:18 (NKJV)
Greetings from Maryland!  I have often thought, while looking up at the stars that friends and family would be looking up at those same stars.  When the sun rises and sets, friends and family are looking at the same sunrise and sunset.  The same is true, and this includes even those in the southern hemisphere.  What men stand most in need of is the knowledge of God.  The world is in a mess because man follows his own inclinations rather than seek the Creator.
    Oh, some may have a knowledge of the Ten Commandments and some of the parables.  Maybe a few of the psalms float through their minds and they may recall pieces from the Sermon on the Mount, but few seek and search for God.  Some people try to be moral and through that think they might find God, rather than the other way around–the person who finds God will become moral.
God is wanting and waiting for man to seek Him.  Ponder the words of the French theologian–Fenelon.

         “He is, in all things, infinite–in wisdom power and love–and what wonder, if everything that comes from his hand should partake of the same infinite character and set at nought the efforts of human reason.  When He works, His ways and His thought are declared by the prophet to be as far above our ways and our thoughts as the heavens are above the earth (Isaiah 55:9).  He makes no effort when He would execute what He has decreed; for to Him all things are equally easy; He speaks and causes the heavens and the earth to be created out of nothing, with as little difficulty as he causes water to descend or a stone to fall to the ground.  His power is co-extensive with His will; when He wills, the thing is already accomplished…  His mercy, too, is but His pure will; He loved us before the creation of the world; He saw and knew us, and prepared His blessings for us; He loved and chose us from all Eternity.  Every new blessing we received is derived from this Eternal origin; He forms no new will respecting us; it is not He that changes, but we.  When we are righteous and good, we are conformable to His will and agreeable to Him; when we depart from well doing and cease to be good, we cease to be conformable to Him and to please Him….  Mercy is the goodness of God, beholding our wickedness and striving to make us good….  From Him alone proceeds true goodness; alas! for that presumptuous soul that seeks it in itself!  It is God’s love towards us that gives us everything; but the richest of His gifts is that we may love Him with that love which is His due.  When He is able by His love to produce that love in us, He reigns within; He constitutes there our life, our peace, our happiness, and we then already begin to taste that blissful existence which He enjoys.  His love towards us is stamped with His own character of infinity:  it is not like ours, bounded and constrained; when He loves, all the measures of His love are infinite….  He loves like a God, with a love utterly incomprehensible.”

We can only gain a glimpse of who God is.  We only receive a bit of His infinite, boundless love that He showed on the Cross.  Yet, we are to become more like Him.  To do that we must be in His Word, we must seek Him through prayer, meditation, and living a sanctified life.  

Echoes From the Campfire

No matter how desperate a situation might be, he could always find in it something at which to laugh.  He laughed going into danger and coming out of it, with a joke or a pleasantry always trembling on the end of his tongue.”
              –Clarence E. Mulford  (Bar-20 Days)

    “For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God?”
              –1 Thessalonians 3:9 (NKJV)
It was custom for my Dad to always give Grandma one of those red plants for Christmas.  You know the one–the poinsettia.  I have tried to follow in his custom with my wife.  This year the poinsettias seem to be vibrant red.  (I do not particularly care for some of the other colors they have out now.)
    Looking through my files, I found the story of the poinsettia and how it came to be a Christmas favorite and custom.

                    The Lovely Legend of the Very First Poinsettia

           Have you ever seen a poinsettia?  It’s a beautiful, red flower with a yellow center, that people like to decorate with at Christmastime.
           There is a lovely legend about how the poinsettia came to be and it begins in Mexico…
           There was a young boy who was very sad one Christmas Eve.  You see, in his little town it was the custom to offer gifts to the Christ Child.  People would come to the church on Christmas Eve and place their gifts upon the altar.
           But Manuelito, as we shall call him, was very poor.  He had no gift to bring before the Infant Jesus.
           Too shy to go inside the church without a gift, he knelt outside a window and began to pray.  We don’t know what Manuelito said, but perhaps he was telling the Holy Infant how sorry he was that he did not have a gift to offer.  For that is what prayer is, you know; talking to God.
           As he rose to his feet, he noticed a beautiful red flower growing in the very spot where he had knelt.  Amazed, he bent down to examine the flower.  He had never seen one like it before.
           Suddenly he realized that this lovely flower was a gift from heaven, an answer to his prayer!
           Joyfully, Manuelito plucked the flower and carried it inside, to lay before the altar.
           And that is why the poinsettia is known as “The Flower of the Holy Night” in Mexico.

The author and source of this is unknown, but here we see a humble boy wanting to give a gift to the Infant.  It is a story that has been repeated in other forms, “The Little Drummer Boy,” “In the Bleak Winter,” are examples where there is nothing to give except to play on a drum, or to give one’s heart.
                “Christmas is a necessity.  There has to be at least one day of the year to remind us that we’re here for something else besides ourselves.”
                       –Eric Sevareid

There is so much bickering going on; so much hatred.  Hopefully, except for the few which are to be pitied, Christmas will be a day that all of that will be forgotten as families gather around the tree.  There will be laughter, presents, maybe even the Bible will be read.  The political turmoil and hatred will be put aside for one day.
    To those who say, “Bah, Humbug”; to those who snort at Christmas and the thought that God could love the world, including them so much to send His only begotten Son to redeem it, well, they are truly to be pitied.  Some may get involved with some sort of revelry, but some will stay at home, a victim of their hearts and minds. They will try and enjoy the coldness of their heart as Dicken’s Scrooge of old did.  Maybe a “Spirit” will visit them, but too sadly many of them will not come to know the love of the Father.  To be pitied, to be pitied.

Echoes From the Campfire

There’s no limit to what a man can do once he makes up his mind he ain’t allergic to sweat.”
              –Elmer Kelton (The Man Who Rode Midnight)

    “He who is slothful in his work Is a brother to him who is a great destroyer.”
              –Proverbs 18:9 (NKJV)
Here’s another old carol, written in the 13th century, that we seldom hear any more.  I haven’t heard it outside my own CDs in many, many years.  It begins with the story of a man who met the three kings (wise men) on their way to see the newborn Christ-child.  In this song they are seen as “valiant warriors” rather than just “wise men.” 

                    Three great kings I met at early morn
                    With all their retinue were slowly marching
                    Three great kings I met at early morn
                    Were on their way to meet the newly born
                    With gifts of gold brought from far away
                    And valiant warriors to guard the royal treasure
                    With gifts of gold brought from far away
                    Their shields all shining in their bright array

As the song continues, we should be thankful for the mercy and grace that God has bestowed upon us through the year.  We have made it through another year due to His amazing grace.  Here, in the second verse, the child is now the Redeemer and Father who has turned the dark future that once was mankind’s into light.  As the kings marched to find the child following the star, we should now march to face the foes as the Savior arms us for the fight.

                    For Thy mercy and Thy grace
                    Constant through another year
                    Hear our song of thankfulness
                    Father and Redeemer hear
                    Dark the future; let Thy light
                    Guide us, bright and morning star
                    Fierce our foes and hard the fight
                    Arm us Savior for the war

The third verse finds man in the reality of life.  We are weak and often in distress as we trod through this life.  We should be like the kings as they marched on to find the king.  As they went through the wilderness in their search, so we should take heart, and go through the wilderness in which we find ourselves.  He will help keep us faithful and pure.  In this life we will have to endure many hardships.  The only way in which we can get through them is by following the true Light.

                    In our weakness and distress
                    Rock of strength be Thou our stay
                    In the pathless wilderness
                    Be our true and living way
                    Keep us faithful; keep us pure
                    Keep us evermore Thine own
                    Help, O help us to endure
                    Fit us for the promised crown.

This is what I call a “power” song.  It is majestic and gives the sense of awe and wonder as the kings march to find the Child bringing Him gifts.  Take time to seek it out this season it will be worth your while to listen to the “March of the Kings.”