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He was a professional thief. His name stirred fear as the desert wind stirs tumbleweeds. He terrorized the Wells Fargo stage line for thirteen years, roaring like a tornado in and out of the Sierra Nevada’s, spooking the most rugged frontiersmen. In journals from San Francisco to New York, his name became synonymous with the danger of the frontier.

During his reign of terror between 1875 and 1883, he is credited with stealing the bags and the breath away from twenty-nine different stagecoach crews. And he did it all without firing a shot.

His weapon was his reputation. His ammunition was intimidation.

A hood hid his face. No victim ever saw him. No artist ever sketched his features. No sheriff could ever track his trail. He never fired a shot or took a hostage.

He didn’t have to. His presence was enough to paralyze.

Black Bart. A hooded bandit armed with a deadly weapon. What was his deadly weapon? One word, it was FEAR!

Fear has prevented many Christians from experiencing the blissful happiness that Jesus is defining in the beatitudes. Fear of death, fear of failure, fear of God, fear of tomorrow – and the list goes on and on. Fear’s goal is to create a cowardly, joyless soul. He wants you to take your eyes off the mountain peak and settle for the dull existence of the flat lands.

And by the way, remember Black Bart? As it turns out, he wasn’t anything to be afraid of, either. When the hood came off, there was nothing to fear. When the authorities finally tracked down the thief, they didn’t find a bloodthirsty bandit from Death Valley; they found a mild-mannered druggist from Decatur, Illinois. The man the papers pictured storming through the mountains on horseback was, in reality, so afraid of horses he rode to and from his robberies in a buggy. He was Charles E. Boles – the bandit who never once fired a shot, because he never once loaded his gun. Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story; (New York, NY: Bantam, 1977) Page 117

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