Echoes from the Campfire

When you’ve traveled through wild country as many times as I have, you learn to trust what you feel.”
–C. Wayne Winkle  (One Last Chase)

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.”
–John 16:13 (NLT)
I had a song in my head last week which I might share later.  But I was walking and this song kept running through my mind and it made me think, where are the battle songs of the Church?  Look in your hymnbook and see how many songs you find about the militant Church, or the Church triumphant.  Oooops, that’s right, we don’t use hymnbooks any more; it’s all on a screen and most of them are not hymns, but that’s another topic.
We keep the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” around, not because of its wonderful and powerful message for the Church, but now for patriotic gatherings.  Just look at a few words, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord…”  If the Church would just grab hold of those words, oh my, what would happen?  Do we look upward?  Do we actually envision His return?  Most of the time we are too busy with our little rants and raves to see the glory of the Lord.  Perhaps that is why the Lord asked if He would find faith upon the earth when He returns.
It was a few years back, hmmm, well, more than a few.  It was one of those special times.  Annie and I had made camp, the tent was up, and I was making the campfire.  The air was thin, for we were right at timberline, and it was very brisk even though it was summer.  The stream rushed down the side of the mountain originating from the lake, but just above where we were, it came flowing through a bank of snow.
As darkness started closing in around us the air turned colder and we could see the marmots scampering about just below our camp making their little yips.  We had coffee in hand and as we looked up and there was a clear sky and thousands, no, millions of stars in the sky.  Being at timberline there was plenty of wood to be gathered up for the fire.  This was a time before progress came in and said you had to have a fire ring or one of those backpacking stoves.  
Ah progress, something about progress.  Progress can sometimes hinder the simple things of life, such as a campfire in the back country.  Now, I understand the necessity of taking extra precautions, because there are fools who will go out and set the woods on fire.  They do not know how to take care of God’s wonderful creation.  But it just isn’t the same; sitting around a little backpacking campstove just doesn’t have the atmosphere of the flames flickering upward toward the starry sky.
We stayed a couple of nights, hiked around Blue Lake and just enjoyed ourselves and God’s creation.  She still accuses me of putting the cast-iron skillet in her pack.  But I wonder, have we let the progress dampen the fire of the Spirit in our lives?  Is it that we can’t be trusted with the “holy fire of God”?  We sit and stare at the campstove and giggle and give a shout and dance of how glorious it is, but we do not know the warmth and security of the Spirit while we sit in the darkness of the world.
Shame on us!
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!”
–Psalm 150:6 (NASB)
When was the last time you praised the Lord?  Ten minutes ago?  When you crawled out of bed?  It should be habitual with a Christian; the life of the believer should be one of constant praise.  I just finished a great book, and one of the chapters was titled, “If God Is In Charge Then I Can Praise.”  We want to be autonomous, but God is not going to allow that.  One thing we need to remember is that God’s glory is more important than our well-being.
So here is a simple thought of praise today.  
“Praise is living in such a way that life–everything about it–points to and praises the Creator.”  (Stephen Brown)
The thing we have to guard against then is doing things that will bring praise to us instead of the Father.  Oh, praise may come, and that is part of being human, but our purpose must not be to build ourselves up, but to point to what the Holy Spirit is doing in us for the glory of God.