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I hope I didn’t make any enemies with my post concerning the developments arising out of the new road construction at Toxaway. I meant no harm. I am a writer, and I just gave in to the temptation presented by the blank page before me.

methodistThis post addresses a much more serious concern. A hundred years from now, will it really matter if the little store was a historic structure or simply a shack as Jack has so often referred to it? And if the rocks on the hillside continue in their place will that be significant or no? But a hundred years from now you and I will likely have entered into our eternal reward. What will that be? No matter your age, you need to ask yourself that question. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and you know that.

It is really true that God came in the person of Jesus two thousand years ago to offer the inhabitants of this fallen planet eternal life and salvation from hell. I am not a preacher so I am not going to explain that. It is not very complicated if you are willing to believe. God will send you someone or something to expand your understanding of Christ’s payment for sin if you need that.

My purpose here is to issue a strong warning. Jesus is returning soon to end the present regime and to usher in the Kingdom of God. Before that there are going to wars and bloodshed, famine, disease and every kind of sorrow and destruction. Your life could be snuffed out in a moment in the chaos that is coming. You need to be ready. When your life ends the opportunity to choose your eternal destination will be gone. If you do not choose Christ ahead of time you will automatically go to hell. That’s blunt, but it is fact. (He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already….John 3:18)

Nobody wants to go to hell. Like the rich young ruler in the Bible we ask “What must I do to be saved?”  The rich young ruler made his choice. He could not be saved because he wanted his wealth more than he wanted Jesus. (See Matthew 19)

Jesus’ gift of salvation and eternal life is free and offered to everyone.You need to know beyond any doubt that no one has been left out of the circle of his love. There is no person born some place outside of God’s grace. The Bible tells us that salvation has come to all men  The opportunity to be saved comes to everyone. (See Titus 2:11)

The opportunity to be saved makes its way over the face of the whole earth. Christians have been commissioned to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus throughout the world and millions of Christians have obeyed that directive. You don’t need to be a missionary to spread the gospel. But when Christians can not or do not reach the unsaved, then Christ himself seeks out his own. He is able to go where no feet fall; he can go into the wildest jungle, or into the rudest desert hovel to speak to a heart, to give a dream, to urge a savage soul toward redemption.  Numbers of persons who never heard the gospel have been saved by a personal encounter with Jesus. He knows where you are, and seeks out those who have a heart for him.

I am not going to try to tell you how God does that beyond what I have already said. It is plain that not everyone gets saved; some do not want to be saved. Some want to be saved and at the same time live like sinners. They make their choice. You can’t have it both ways. God made us, but we make our choices. God is just and fair and righteous beyond our comprehension. He holds the planets in their places by his sovereign power; he knows the name of every star. We all come from different places and circumstances, and some of us seem to be more fortunate than the rest of us by this fallen world’s standards. But we are little and God is big. He knows more than we do. We do not see from God’s perspective. He measures by a different rule. There is no meanness, partiality, or favoritism in him. If he were not just to the nth degree, the entire universe would fly apart. Jesus offers to every person the exact same salvation that he offered his twelve disciples. He might not give us things that we think we should have or deserve, but it is not his nature to short change us, withhold from us, or deny us anything that is of eternal consequence. His purpose for each individual is different. He gives us what we need to fulfill his design for us. Your neighbor has a different purpose. His situation and abilities will be different from yours. We are all equal in God’s eyes, but we are not all the same.

The rich young ruler had a yearning in his heart for eternal life, for cleanness of heart and soul. That’s why he was talking to Jesus in the first place. He wanted the thing that Jesus offered, but when he considered the price, he was unwilling to pay it.

Which brings us around to the point of this writing. Salvation is a free gift. It is an impartation to us from God of his spirit. It is not a promise for the future although it carries one. It is not a will of the wisp, here today and gone tomorrow. It is an unforgettable personal encounter with Jesus, King of Kings. It will change your life. If your life has not changed, if you have not grown, if you have not put away sin, it could be you are not really saved. You need to go further, dig deeper, seek more . He responds to those who genuinely seek him.

If this is you, please know I am not saying this to hurt your feelings. Nor am I saying you are not saved. Only you and Jesus know if you are saved or not. But if you are struggling, I have been where you are. It was not a one time easy trip for me to become reconciled to God. But I kept seeking and knocking, and he eventually gave me a wonderful revelation of himself that sustains me to this day.

What I want for you is encouragement and true direction. You need the truth, for nothing else will save you in the end. No amount of reform, behavior modification, or wishful thinking will substitute for a heart encounter with Jesus. Nothing but his blood sacrifice can cleanse your soul and give you eternal life. Everything else is false no matter how good and reasonable it sounds. Ignoring the facts, putting your head in the sand, taking the easy way out with a half hearted commitment will not work in the long run.Do not even consider  a temporary fix for an eternal problem. Heaven or hell; both are forever.

If you want Jesus, if you want to be saved it is not hard. The sinner’s prayer is only a few sentences, and millions perhaps have entered into salvation by saying the sinner’s prayer, from their heart. An equal number perhaps have said the words, with no results. The Bible says with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10

There are people around  who say “Well, Bless God, if you didn’t get saved the way I got saved, then you didn’t get it.” That’s like saying it’s my way or the highway. Don’t listen to people like that. You don’t need that person’s stamp of approval on your salvation experience. What you need is a relationship with Jesus. Do not stop until you find Him, in person. He said himself, I am the way…and no man cometh to the father but by me. John 14:6

More to come…..

 

 

 

 

I did not intend to say anything on this subject, but I must put a pin in the hysterical hot air balloon that is inflating up at Toxaway Falls. You notice I did not say “historical,”

If you’ve ever watched Waters World on television you have seen how poorly educated Americans are about their history and culture. It is the exception and not the rule when Waters encounters an informed citizen, one that can answer a simple question about U.S. government or history. I thought that was a phenomenon confined to New York and Coney Island, but alas, it is here also. But, to be fair, we all come up a little short in some areas. And sometimes the remedy for that is what my mother in law used to call a dose of Re ali Tea.

Toxaway Falls Stand

Toxaway Falls Stand

When construction began recently on the road improvements in the vicinity of Toxaway Falls someone looked at the Highway Department’s map and noted that Jack’s little store, Toxaway Falls Stand, had been labeled a historic structure by the highway folks. In almost no time Toxaway Falls Stand’s status became elevated well beyond that of a little slapped together antique building, not even as old or historically significant as some local barns, to a place on the National Register. So now there are a lot of folks around here who actually believe that….

Highway Department Official Looks At Possible Native American Burial Site. (copy of newspaper photo)

Further, the Abandoned Cemeteries people called the Highway Department’s attention to a possible Native American burial site up on the ridge near the proposed new road in order that the site would be protected during the construction. The pile of rocks was identified right away and with certainty as the gravesite of a Cherokee Indian – “Chief Toxaway.” And then the fun began. It seems that another rock pile on another mountain off Blue Ridge Road also bears the distinction of being said chieftan’s resting place. Ohhhhh……

Somehow I find it appalling that our own Native American, the mixed blood William Jack Fisher, who a hundred years ago saved a number of lives in the Toxaway Gorge, was so soon forgotten, while the illusory bones of an Indian chief, about whom nothing is known, and whose historical existence is speculative, were deemed important enough to be claimed interred in at least two places in this community. Whatever happened to the separation of fact and fiction?

Does anyone know how long the rock pile has been there on the ridge above the falls? The Cherokee were not the first Indians to inhabit our area. Some artifacts found in the vicinity are centuries old. Examination of the site might prove that it is very old and made by a previous culture. Further, the Cherokee did not have a town here. The Cherokee town of Toxaway was situated near the confluence of the Keowee River and Eastatoe Creek, now under the waters of Lake Keowee.

It is a fact that the Cherokee once had dominion over the whole of what is now Transylvania County. They occupied a large section of Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina. They did not “own” land as we do but roamed at will. Their trails crisscrossed the mountains, connecting their various settlements. There were yearly hunting expeditions through our area. An annual stopover was on Indian Camp Mountain near Rosman. Highway 178 out of Rosman was built on their trail –  the Eastatoe Path. Occasionally there might have been numbers of Cherokees encamped here or passing through.

But by the time the first permanent white settlers began coming here there were very few Indians left, the reason being the Cherokee Removal of 1838-39. Most of the Cherokee were rounded up and herded off to the West along the Trail of Tears. But there were some who managed to escape capture by fleeing their valley settlements and hiding out in the mountains, including our area. Eventually the government abandoned their search for these fugitives and they were allowed to stay wherever they were. The early settlers of this area found abandoned huts and other evidence of Cherokee occupation. They also found a few Indians, some of whom assimilated into the white culture. There was one Indian family who owned property in the vicinity of Golden Road and were members of a local church.

So is it not possible that Chief Toxaway might have been one of the local Indians back in the mid-1800’s when white people began settling here? Possible, yes, but not likely. For one thing there seems to be no mention of him in any historical records from that era, and there certainly was no cohesive Cherokee settlement here for him to be head of.

Part of the Eastatoe Valley

Part of the Eastatoe Valley

But, if it makes anyone feel better, there is some mention of Chief Toxaway by a romantic and adventurous nineteenth century writer – William Gilmore Simms. Simms loved nothing better than to mingle with the locals and gather tidbits for his stories, most of which were fiction. Jim Bob Tinsley in his book Land of Waterfalls mentioned Simms and his visit with the Long Hunters here in the 1840’s. Well, Simms published a collection of stories including The Legend of Jocassee, a tale set in the Keowee River area, and pertaining to a conflict between two rival bands of Cherokees, the Eastatoe band, and the Oconees. It seems the leader of the Eastatoes was none other than – Chief Toxaway.

Perhaps Mr. Simms’ story is where some of this smoke came from…..Anyway, the evidence that there ever was a Chief Toxaway up here in the high country is pretty flimsy, especially when one considers that except for the river, the name Toxaway did not come up here until the early 1900’s, and incidentally, was brought by the land developers. Before that our impressive monolith was dubbed Hogback Mountain, due to its similarity in appearance to that beast, and the surrounding low ground was Hogback Valley. At that time Toxaway Falls was known as the Bagwell Shoals, after the name of its owner.

But, back to the rock pile, we know that Native Americans sometimes buried their dead in this manner. And it doesn’t seem likely this spot would have been a cultivated field, cleared of rocks by a farmer who piled them at the edge. So it is entirely possible we have a genuine Native American burial site overlooking Toxaway Falls. And that’s important.

But beyond that, if an Indian chief is buried under those rocks, I rather doubt it is Chief Toxaway……

…..But there’s an outside chance it could be Chief Hogback……

Hogback Mountain

Hogback Mountain

 

IMG_1231I had a few little crocus blossoms earlier, mostly purple, but one bright yellow. It was so cold I couldn’t enjoy them then except in passing, on my way to the mailbox. But now, Ahh, it’s a lot warmer and the forsythia and daffodils are blooming. Their bright golden color is just dazzling against the browns and grays of the lingering winter.

When I was a girl, the only daffodils I knew were the double ones. They were usually scrawny and lots of times they didn’t open fully, and consequently they just were not very attractive. My grandma had doubles, my aunts had them, Mama’s friends had them, everyone, first to last had double daffodils. Nobody had the single trumpet kind. I have often wondered if double was the only vairiety they sent up here to McNeely’s General Store, where I suspect the local folks got their bulbs way back then. But I remember down at Boyleston we had doubles at the place where we lived. And also at the house near Brevard.

I have trumpet daffodils that I planted, but, would you believe there were only double daffodils here when I came. Jack had dug up some from his great grandparents’ place at Waddle Mountain and they planted them here. I didn’t know until recently how old those daffodils were. And that’s what I am getting to with this article.

Daffodils are self sufficient and tenacious. I guarantee you that after they were planted nobody ever did one more thing for those double daffodils Jack brought up the mountain to here so many years ago. And I will also guarantee you that they had been growing at that old homeplace on Waddle Mountain untold years with no attention whatever. Nobody petted them, or fertilized them, or encouraged them.

Unless their habitat is destroyed daffodils will go on and on and on. I remember finding a patch of daffodils in a row in the Pisgah National Forest. At first I was baffled at finding this sure evidence of civilization in such an out of the way place, but then I realized that wooded place had once been a farm. Daffodils are not native to the U.S. and had to be introduced. If you find them in the woods, look around for an old chimney or a other evidence of an old homestead.

Jack's double daffodils

Jack’s double daffodils

Daffodils then, as now, were universally loved and easy to grow. They were passed around so that any woman who wanted some could start with a handful of bulbs and in a few years have a nice flower patch of the bright golden beauties.

And years later when that woman’s cabin has crumbled into dust, and nothing remains of her old place but the gnarled dead stump of an apple tree, the daffodils that she planted will fling open their petals every spring, for no other reason except that she put them there.

Maybe you need to put some, somewhere.

 

 

Tadpoles and eggs

Tadpoles and eggs

We have a little seep at a low place in the field where a little water runs all the time, a place ideal for small frogs. I love to hear them sing. They are mostly tenor and mezzo soprano, and proud of it. This time of year they are in celebration mode. The sound of their music carries a long, long way.

My love for tadpoles had its origin in my childhood. Mama found some frog eggs somewhere and brought them home. She put them in a deep dish on the back porch and forbade little hands to touch. That spring we watched with wonder as the eggs hatched and the little tadpoles put on their front legs, then their back legs, and their tails went away. Mama put a rock in the dish so the little frogs could climb out of the water when they were old enough. By that time she had placed a scrap of screen wire over her miniature pond to keep the little critters from jumping out. They were little bitty fellas, about an inch long, more or less, roughly the same size as these that are hatching right now.

The adults are small, about four inches long until they jump and then they spread out quite a ways. I see them sometimes as I walk by their little home, jumping from the bank into the water. They are afraid of me.

Tiny tadpole pond, with algae

Tiny pond with tadpoles

Before long the algae will thicken along the edges of their pond and you won’t see them very much. Tadpoles eat algae as they grow. Perhaps big frogs do also. I am not sure.

It looks like hundreds of tadpoles hatch, but we don’t end up with very many frogs (which might be a good thing, when one thinks of the plague of frogs in Egypt; they were even in the bread dough.) (Exodus 8:3) Snakes and other predators perhaps eat them.

March is concert time, and we are enjoying the music. Grandma always said the opera music Grandpa listened to sounded like frogs. Could be true; their song is really lovely.

Standing Ground

US_Flag_WavyI wrote this article in the form of a four page booklet a few years ago, but I did not circulate it then. The message is a little more urgent now than it was at that time. But it is the same. There is hope for this nation, and I do believe we will rise from the deplorable place to which we have fallen. But it will be a spiritual solution that restores us, and not a political change.

Jesus is indeed coming soon, but shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:8) If you are a Christian you are supposed to be working until he comes. It doesn’t look like it is going to be easy work; and, no, he is not going to snatch us out before the trouble comes.

Standing Ground

Grandpa never served in the armed forces, but his heart was in the trenches and on the battlefield. I know because I ended up with his papers, the clippings, the notes, the drawings, and things that were important to him. I found that he followed World War II in the newspapers, aided by a very large colored world map, now bug eaten and crumbling into dust. He cared enough to be informed. DO YOU?

I must admit that I have barely begun to be informed, but already I can not help crying out, “Oh America, Wake Up, Rise To Your own Defense!”

Our country is facing more perils now than at any time in history, even the days of its origins, when wooden boats laden with vulnerable yet hopeful pilgrims came from far across the Atlantic, seeking to establish a new nation in covenant with its God.

Today, nearly four hundred years later we stand at the edge of a precipice. We are perplexed. Far on the other side lies a gleaming white city, but at our feet lies a yawning chasm. How did we ever get here? Is this the end? What has happened to our great nation?

For one thing, time is running out, and ready or not, The Kingdom Is Coming. God has already given us a glimpse from scripture of the violence and confusion that signals the ending of the present era and the beginning of the next. The trouble is unavoidable.

We are facing economic chaos beyond anything we have ever experienced. What is going to happen when we can not obtain the goods and services we need?

The moral fabric of our nation is in tatters, and our uncomely parts are fully exposed. Lawlessness is rampant; even our little ones have become a prey.

An insidious evil is infiltrating our government, seeking to enslave us by corrupting our Constitution and forcing our courts to recognize their ungodly system as law in our land.

Spiritual and mental deception as well as outright trickery, greed, dishonesty and lies are at the root of our troubles. This has been the case since the Garden of Eden. But, these things are coming to an end. God can and will fix our troubles, but WE HAVE TO DO THE WORK.

Jesus did not tell us to close our ears and go sit on the front porch in our rockers until he comes again. Your pastor can not do his work and yours too. Jesus said YOU go. YOU can make a difference.

It is time to wake up, stand up, and speak the truth in no uncertain terms against the evils that surround us. Let us be politically wrong and morally right. The United States of America was not meant to go down the drain. Our predecessors have too much sweat, blood, and suffering invested in our country. This nation was founded on legitimate and right principles as evidenced in our earliest documents, from the Mayflower Compact to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, regardless of how these documents have been misinterpreted in recent years. Our cause is just, and when enough of us care enough, with the help of God, we can change our land.

Let us not give in and throw up our hands and say “What’s the use!” There is no place for apathy or cowardice  in this fight. Remember the three Hebrew children who told the Babylonian king,  “Our God is ABLE to deliver us from your fiery furnace, but even if he doesn’t we WILL NOT BOW to your image.” (from Daniel 3:17-18) Let us refuse to bow to the evil forces coming against us, but resist. The Lord will walk with us though any circumstance if we will simply ask.

I do not know what the future holds, but from my study of scripture I firmly believe that the end of this world is not yet. I believe Jesus will in fact reign in the earth, for a thousand years, as is stated plainly in the Bible. Then I believe we will see the fulfillment of the prophetic words of Katherine Lee Bates from her marvelous anthem “America The Beautiful.”

     Oh beautiful for patriot dream……..That sees beyond the years.                                           Thine alabaster cities gleam………Undimmed by human tears.

But even if I am wrong, to take a stand against evil is the only thing to do. Even if our case were hopeless, to do right in the face of wrong should be our only option. We claim to be followers of Christ, but if he asks us to, will we follow him all the way to the cross? “Are ye able,” he asks, “to drink of the cup that I drink of?” (Matthew 20:22) Of ourselves we are not able.but we are promised in God’s word that we can do all things through Christ.

God sees and knows all things. Nothing is hidden from his eye. If he allows a trial to come to us, he has already provided the strength to overcome it or go through it. His grace is sufficient for us and his strength is made perfect in our weakness. (from 2 Corinthians 12:9)

…And having done all, let us stand.  (Ephesians 6:13)The_General_society_of_Mayflower_descendants;_meetings,_officers_and_members_arranged_in_state_societies,_ancestors_and_their_descendants_(1901)_(14778398032)

From Little Panthertail Mountain:

PCard View of L.T.I looked up the lyrics of that wonderful African American folk song Go Tell It On The Mountain. Though no author was given I found the compiler was John Wesley Work, Jr. who died in 1925. Mr. Work was a collector of folk songs, and a professor of music, Latin, and history at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. Go Tell It On The Mountain is primarily a Christmas song as the first three verses, the ones we are familiar with, speak of the birth of Jesus.

Here are two more. These two verses comprised the Plantation Christmas Song.

     When I am a seeker…..I seek both night and day…..I ask the Lord to help me….And he shows me the way.

     He made me a watchman…..Upon the city wall…..And if I am a Christian…..I am the least of all.

I always loved Go Tell It On The Mountain; it’s lively and fun to sing, and what a strong imperative: Go! Tell it! Isn’t that what Jesus said?

St. Peter, preaching the gospel

St. Peter, preaching the gospel

From Little Panthertail Mountain: I have found there are various interpretations of Acts Chapter 2, which is surprising to me, for the narrative of this Chapter seems pretty plain. For that reason I am setting down what the English words as recorded in the King James version of the Bible actually say to me. And, if it counts for anything, I pursued an English major my first year in college.

For background, the first chapter of Acts tells us that after Jesus ascended to heaven there were about 120 of his followers  based at an “upper room.”  These people included Jesus’ disciples (except for Judas, who had betrayed Jesus and later committed suicide,) Jesus’ mother and other women, and his “brethren.”  These individuals “continued” with prayer and supplication, eventually selecting Matthias as a replacement for Judas. fireThey were all together on the day of the Jewish Pentecost (a festival that Jews from near and far attend each year,)  when something supernatural happened. “…suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it (the SOUND like the wind) filled all the house…And there appeared unto them cloven (split) tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” (Acts 2:2-3) These 120 people heard a loud sound like a fierce wind and they saw what looked like a burning flame sitting on each of  their companions that were  in the room with them. The next verse says “…they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues,…” They, the 120 people, were ALL  (not just Peter who later preached, but ALL)  filled  and ALL began to speak in other tongues. That is 120 people convened in an upper room, all speaking in other languages. Some were speaking in Greek, some in Italian, some in an Egyptian tongue, as well as many other languages as indicated in Verses 9-11.

There were quite a number of Jews from out of town present in Jerusalem that day who had come to celebrate the Jewish festival of Pentecost. We will call them tourists.  Many Jews were scattered far and wide then even as they are today. Verse 5 says that devout Jews from every nation under heaven were dwelling at Jerusalem. Verses 9, 10, and 11 list the nationalities of these Jews. They were: “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians..” (Acts 2:9-11) You can imagine the uproar produced by 120 people all speaking in different languages at once. Of course that caused quite a stir and as it continued it attracted the attention of the other residents of Jerusalem. It is no wonder some folks thought these people were drunk.

Pretty soon people began coming to see what was going on. Verse 6 says the happening was “noised abroad” and “the multitude came together.” The multitude  included the Jewish tourists attending the festival of Pentecost. The verse says they were confounded because “every man heard them speak in HIS  OWN language.” Each of the tourists heard them speak in the language of HIS country instead of the Hebrew tongue. They were “all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, are not all these (who) speak Galileans?” Jesus was a Galilean, and his disciples were local people, at least in part, for some of them were  fishermen who worked the sea of Galilee. The Galilean language was the same as the Hebrew language, which  all Jews spoke and recognized, regardless of where they lived; however, the Galilean dialect was not “pure” or “strict” Hebrew. ( In similar fashion, a Southern drawl is not exactly the King’s English.) However, these 120 Galileans were NOT speaking the Jewish or Hebrew language of the Galileans. They were speaking languages from other countries.

Verse 8 asks the question posed by the Jewish tourists: ‘How hear we…in our own tongue, wherein we were born?”  The tourists hailed from as many as thirteen areas or countries round about Jerusalem and Judea. To repeat the list already given, they were: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, dwellers in Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phyrgia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the Libyans about Cyrene, Romans, Cretes and Arabians. They said, “We do hear THEM (the 120) speak in OUR TONGUES the wonderful works of God.” They spoke in the tongues of the tourists. The tourists asked each other “What meaneth this?” (Verse 12) But others said they (the 120) were drunk. However, Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, rose up and began to preach, telling the crowd that those who spoke in tongues were not drunk. Rather, this phenomenon was the fulfillment of prophecy given by Joel. Peter would have spoken in Hebrew, the one language which everyone present could understand, since they all were Jews. If he had spoken in the Egyptian language, would the Greeks have been able to understand him? No. The gift of interpretation of tongues, like the gift of speaking in tongues, is given only to born again believers.  The multitude (as mentioned in Verse 6) were not born again or saved when they came to find out what was going on at the upper room. Those present who got saved did so AFTER Peter preached the gospel of Christ to them. Verse 41 says “…the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”

For folks who don’t see it as I do, we must agree to disagree. Our salvation does not depend on our viewpoint on this matter, but on our relationship to Jesus.