Saturday, September 29, 2007

Samuel's newborn outfits didn't quite work. He came home in 3-month clothes!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Bowing to Idols

Last night, our family watched Dr. Paul Jehle’s message about the Babylonian Empire, one message in Vision Forum’s History of the World Mega-Conference series. We have just completed our studies of the Babylonians, and this message taught us many amazing and important things that we hadn’t learned. One point that Dr. Jehle just touched on, as in passing, particularly caught my attention. This was the example that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego set for young men and women in the church in today’s culture. You may want to read the first part of Daniel Chapter 3 to refresh your memory in order to see the details that Dr. Jehle points out.

Now, this is a very common Bible story. As far as I have seen in my few years, when a part of the Scriptures is viewed as a “Bible Story” it loses much of its significance and message, particularly those things that it teaches to Christians who no longer have Bible coloring books. The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace certainly fits that description, but there is so much in this account that misguided Christian young people desperately need to know.

As Dr. Jehle states, it is estimated that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were in their upper teens during this time. After having been taken from Jerusalem with Daniel, they had adhered to their principles throughout their training in the court of Babylon. Then, Nebuchadnezzar demanded the three young men to do something that they could not- to fall down and worship a beautifully crafted golden idol to the sound of pagan music.

I would like to draw out two points which are applicable today. First, we cannot bow to modern art. This includes drawing and painting, photography, film, and television. Modern artistic expression, as meaningless and filthy as it is, is nothing new. In Babylon, occultism was rampant, and worshipping demons, as idols, was an integral part of Babylonian religion. Skilled craftsman turned their hands to making abominable idols, and Nebuchadnezzar’s idol was just one of these carefully sculpted demonic symbols.

There’s no doubt that film and television are idols today. Is American Idol a joke? I’ve lived in an idol contestant hometown, and bo-lieve me, it was awful. It permeated everything. Is God going to look over this idolism just because Christians say it’s all for fun? There are many worse, immoral things on the Babylon box that, you would think, would appall and repel truly Christian young people. Are they appalled at all? Then, too, there are some things on television that aren’t inherently wrong, but are they edifying? These, too, must be kept in their proper place.

The second point is another art form. This is music, which accompanied the worship of Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. Modern music has been influenced by humanism and modernism so that most of it now fits one of two descriptions. It’s either immoral or meaningless, and very often both. Modern Christian music has trailed right along behind the secular sort, so that the two can’t be distinguished. In fact, if you want Christian music that sounds like some immoral secular group’s music, there are charts telling you what would be the most similar.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced death for their firm decision to remain pure in the sight of God. What keeps the young men of today from a similar resolution? Peer pressure?

It brings me to tears to think about the direction that so many young people in the church are heading. Most will leave the church as soon as they can. We are here to serve God, to glorify him with our lives, and to advance his kingdom on earth. How can so many young men squander their youth in immorality, watching and listening to abominable things, making idols of celebrities, entertainment, or themselves? There are so many opportunities that they will miss to serve God in the culture, their neighborhoods, or their families. I pray that God will keep me on the straight path, and use me for his glory. I know that by myself I can do nothing, but chills run down my spine when I think how great is the God I serve, that strengthens me for his service. May I always serve him in joy with love, praying that the lesson of Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, as well as Daniel, David, Joseph, and many other young men in the Scriptures, will be understood by the young men of today. Amen.


Friday, September 21, 2007

The County Fair

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Great Escapade

After three ten-hour work-days, we were ready for a little rest after we came home from church this morning. Thankfully we were able to sleep and read until about three hours after lunch, when we got a call from our wonderful neighbor across the road from the farm.

"Hey [Stonewall], this is [neighbor], there's goats all over the hill and I think they're yours."

Naturally, I jumped into my shoes so fast that they tied themselves (after all, I paid for those goats). We try not to work on Sunday, but this was clearly an ox in the ditch scenario. We got a bucket of grain, and hurried over to the farm, but found no goats in sight. The fence had come undone at a joint and was pushed inwards. We suspect a dog got in due to low voltage, but we're not sure. From there we drove up to the neighbor's house, who told us the general location where the goats were last spotted.

To give you a perspective, a large stretch of the property across the road from us is owned by the same family, 40 acres total, where four siblings have their homes. The goats were last seen on the hill above the pond, next to the garden (which was harvested-whew!) We headed over there and spent a long time trying to find my dear nannies. I'm sure they wanted to find us just as badly.

I, with the grain, went in what looked like a likely direction, which took me a good half mile. By this time I was praying constantly that my herd-and the investment in them- wouldn't simply add to the wild goat population. I came to a dead end and turned around, and on the way back I met the goats, gracefully making their way through the forest- actually, it probably made a pretty scene. You can imagine how beautiful I thought they were at the time. Anyway, my prayers became praises and I began liberally offering handfuls of grain. All of the goats followed their accustomed white bucket all the way back to the pond. For some reason, once I had gotten that far, they were no longer interested in the grain. They wouldn't even nibble it.

Of course you know, this meant that drastic measures must be taken. So, equipped with a few paragraphs and illustrations regarding herding, which I had read in my sample issue of The Stockman Grass Farmer, I set out to herd six goats the half mile back to their paddock. Now, this is the very first time I had herded anything.

It turned out to be hard work, and I sympathize with herding dogs. The goats wanted to go anywhere but where I wanted them to go, but by nothing short of a miracle, I actually herded them past the pond, down the middle of the road, down our driveway, and straight into the paddock! Like I said, it was a miracle. The whole deal only took two hours. We praise the Lord for it all, who gets us through problems and teaches us all at the same time. I think I have a better idea of how herding works now. Of course, I'll certainly be more careful about maintaining the fence, too!


I mentioned the thirty hours of work that we put in this weekend. We achieved a tremendous amount during this time, as the Lord blessed us with favorable weather and no injuries. We were working on sowing the five acres that we call the lower pasture with tall fescue, orchardgrass, crimson clover, white clover, and ryegrass. We already have crabgrass and johnsongrass.

We are trying to achieve the most diversity in our pasture as we can, and we'd like to reach 40 species. Of course, some of these would be forbs (weeds) and the rest would be grasses and legumes. The reason for this is that, first, we have a highly adaptable pasture to extend the grazing season and increase our stocking rate, and second, every species that we have will concentrate different nutrients, minerals, and trace elements in their leaves. The plants draw this from the soil to meet their own needs, but when the animals graze it the forage will better support them, make their meat more nutritious, and make the people who eat the meat healthier. This thinking is a rather different way to look at a pasture than most farmers, but it is perfectly logical. Health begins with the soil- what a surprise!

I digress. "Sowing" is a very misleading term. We actually went over each piece of ground seven times. First we raked, then we picked up sticks and stones, disced (harrowed with a disc), picked up sticks and stones again, dragged with mattress springs, sowed, and dragged with a chain link drag. The last two were behind the four wheeler and were the responsibilty of Smokestack and I. Of course, we were the ones picking up sticks, too.

We finished all but about half an acre, and now we're praying that it will rain. Sowing requires alot of faith, unless you're an atheist. In that case I guess it requires alot of hoping.