Monday, December 13, 2010

Life in a fog . . .

I feel like I have been living my life in a fog.  Just over 2 months ago, a good friend passed away.  He was a godly man, so it was an easy funeral to put together.  He was a friend, so it was a hard funeral to put together.  The family are also good friends, so it was an easy funeral to do, and a hard funeral to do.  I felt better after the funeral, but remained somewhat in a fog.  He had passed away so suddenly, none of us had any time to process.

A week later, another man passed away.  This man had attended somewhat regularly from time to time, and had a long history of being ill.  I did not know him well, but greatly cared for him and his wife.  It was a totally different funeral, and easy and hard for different reasons.  This funeral was more draining, but I at least felt that I had ministered to the family well.  The funeral director even told me that he has listened to so many funeral services, that he is often very callous  to them.  He continued that even though he didn't know the man, the message connected with him and had a sense of hope that he doesn't often hear.

A week ago, my neighbor, and a friend as well as a church member went out to shovel a path to her mailbox, or shovel off her car - we're not sure.  She did this in the middle of a storm that ended up dumping 3-4 feet of snow on us over about 3 days.  We're not sure whether she slipped, or had a stroke or heart attack, but she ended up falling.  By the time help was called and she was taken to the ER, it was too late.  God had called her home.  That funeral was Friday.

3 funerals in just over 2 months.  Not all that rare for some situations.  But for a small country church this has been extremely rare.  This blog exists because life can get us down.  I have been down.  Not depressed, not miserable, but distracted.  Our Sunday School Lesson yesterday reminded me that Satan can use many things to 'darken' our lives, to keep us away from the light.  I have been letting life happen to me, instead of happening to my life.  Why do I say that?  Discipline has been very low in my life the last couple of months.  Family Bible time, being purposeful with my wife and children, study time for church work, eating habits and exercise have all suffered in different ways.  Each lapse of discipline takes away some of the light that should be in my life.

This blog also exists because, although life can get us down, God can help us up.  Today, I choose to happen to my life in a godly way.  I choose to spend the time to do what needs to be done, not wasting days at a time.  I choose to let my beliefs and values impact my schedule and choices.  Why?  Because "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Because "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength."  For me, these things would be impossible.  But "with God, nothing shall be impossible."

If life's got you down (depressed, distracted, discouraged) look to God, He'll lift you back up!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


We all love to hate politicians.  We pick on their propensity to say what people want to hear and then do whatever they want to do.  They are reviled, ridiculed, threatened, and repeatedly voted back into office.  I guess our judgment of them is normally fairly accurate.  However, accurate doesn't make it right.

Romans 2 tells us not to judge lest we be judged.  "But I would never lie that way," we might say.  The political system we have just makes it easier to attack others' faults because they are right out there in the open.  Carl Paladino, Republican candidate for governor in NY forwarded emails that were off color, offensive and demeaning to different groups of people (women, blacks, etc.).  We say off color, we mean sinful.  Sinful because the spirit of those emails violate God's law first and foremost.  Why did he do it?  Because he found humor in them to some degree and thought that others would find humor in them as well.  We would never do that! Our first reaction.  Yet, how often does someone tell a joke, prefacing it with "It's a little dirty, but it's really funny."  What would the spotlight of political campaigning show in our lives?

The truth is, we can never change another person.  No matter how hard we try, we just cannot make another person behave in the way that we think is appropriate.  So, do we just throw up our arms when it comes to politics?  Absolutely not!  But when it comes to finding faults that need to be fixed, we need to focus the spotlight on our own lives.  It is easy to focus on the faults in another's life.  But what about those faults in my life?  What excuses do I make for my shortcomings (also translated as sin).

What should we do?  We should use the same intensity as an investigative journalist to ferret out the sin that is present in our own lives.  We should be relentless in discovering, digging up, and disposing of those things that are not conformed to the image of Christ in our lives.

What about others?  We need to show grace.  Every time we see something in a politician that we don't like, it should motivate us to make sure our lives are not the same way.  If we do, their sin will help us clean up our sin.  That would be a nice way to recycle the trash from someone else's life into something beautiful in our own.

Friday, October 15, 2010


When we first learned to forgive, we were probably standing next to a sibling or a classmate.  They were very reluctantly or insincerely offering an apology for something they probably didn't feel any remorse for.  And we were taught to say "I forgive you" and the adult told us to hug, shake hands, smile or whatever.  And now everything was better.  I'm not against that system of teaching by any means, but it has come to my attention that sometimes we, as adults, still try to make forgiveness work in the same way.

We will forgive, sure, if you count being able to vocalize that we forgive someone for something.  Although, adults rarely face their offenders, and if they do, have learned to cover over the reluctance and insincerity with many more layers and facades.

For the past several years, I have been learning that forgiveness isn't just an academic flipping of a switch.  We cannot just say that we forgive.  I have learned that forgiveness hasn't happened until the pain is gone.  Often, people will say that they have forgiven, but will readily state that they will not be hurt by that person again.  Pain is still present.  Or, "Oh yes, I've forgiven them," but go on to say that they can't stand to see them, or hear them talk about some matter, or be reminded in some way of what they did.  Pain is still present.  Forgiveness does not happen until the pain is gone.

Several posts ago, I focused on pain.  Pain is a blessing given by God to alert us that there is something wrong.  No one enjoys suffering with pain, in fact, my back let me know that something was wrong yesterday, and I wished it could have waited to give me that message until a more convenient time.  However, pain is there to tell us something is wrong and we need to fix it.  I cannot 'fix' other people.  I cannot remove what other people have done.  I can only fix my responses, my feelings, and my choices in the matter.  When there is still pain, it is never that the other person needs to change.  It would be nice if they would.  It would be a big blessing if they would.  But pain alerts the person who feels it that something is wrong.

What is wrong when we feel pain for an offense that has not been forgiven?  There are several things wrong.  First: we have not forgiven in the same way that God has forgiven us.  If we love God, we need to keep His commandments, otherwise, we will feel pain.  Second: when we choose not to forgive, we give a small slice of control over our life to the person who hurt us.  As a Christian, God is the only one who is to have that control.  And even apart from that, who willingly gives control of their life to a person who has hurt them?  Thirdly: when we don't forgive, it places a burden on a relationship that God may have given us to be an opportunity for ministry.  All of these reasons cause pain, because their is something wrong that we need to fix.

By all means, keep going through the motions of forgiveness.  Say you're sorry.  Say "I forgive you."  Give a hug, send a card, smile.  But make sure the pain goes away when you do it.  If it doesn't, remind yourself that they are forgiven.  Give another hug, send another card, bake a pie, cake or cookies (for them :)), and make sure that the pain is gone.  Love them until it is completely gone.  And then keep on loving them.

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  
- Ephesians 4:32

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I Choose Joy

Each life will have it's ups and downs
Each day brings both smiles and frowns
A lesson I learned long ago
Despite the sorrow, I choose joy

At times our hearts will ache and break
And we not know what we can take
Yet through it all the lesson stands
Even in pain, I choose joy

The Bible gives a promise true
A promise that is for me and for you
The lesson for each, at any time
A choice we have, I choose joy

I know my Savior loves me so
He paid a debt that I did owe
His gift has made it plain for all
There is a choice, I choose joy

Through years of life, through bad and good
I've found that my God always would
Do good for me in all I've seen
The choice is clear, I choose joy

Today we have a difficult day
It's even hard to stand and say
Yet by God's grace in even this
We each can say, I choose joy

Eber Kinne
Home with His Savior ~ October 5, 2010

"Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness; To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever." Psalm 30:11-12

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adjusting Schedules

Since the last time I posted here, we have started school.  With 4 kids being taught this year, and adjusting to taking over the math class for my two oldest, we have been ironing out the schedule.  Whenever it seems we have another wrinkle ironed out, another one pops up.  We've tried moving around the math classes, and spreading out the kids for various tasks throughout the house when they need to say things out loud, or read where someone else's instruction won't disturb them.  I think we have come to realize that homeschooling in a house with 6 children will always include some wrinkles.

The same holds true for our personal schedules.  We try to plan ahead, to check on things to make sure there aren't wrinkles.  But almost without fail, a wrinkle (or two, or more) will enter our lives.  I thought my schedule was going to work out for a laid back Monday this week.  Monday is my usual day off and I try to make it a day with very little on the calendar.  So Monday ends up being one of the days that most often gets attacked with wrinkles.  Probably because there is nothing scheduled, when someone asks if I am available to help, . . . I normally am.

I suppose if we know wrinkles are coming, we need to determine in advance how we will respond to them.  It would be a great world to not have any wrinkles, but maybe the world could be just as great if we determined to not allow wrinkles to affect us negatively.  How?  By determining ahead how we will respond.  By asking God for strength to respond appropriately.  By trusting that God has a purpose for the wrinkle that we may not understand, but can fulfill by responding in a way that honors Him.

I hope your day progresses without wrinkles today.  But I pray that we will each respond to whatever wrinkles we find in a way that glorifies God.

"This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." - Psalm 118:24

Monday, August 23, 2010

Choose Wisely

We are faced with choices almost non-stop in our daily lives.  When to get up, what to do, what to wear, what to eat, how to respond to others, when to go to bed, and each choice impacts other choices we make. 

Growing up, I remember often hearing the phrase "Choose wisely."  It was probably applied more to friends and how I responded to my parents in obeying what they had asked me to do.  Today it reaches out into far more areas.  In grocery shopping, I try to choose wisely by buying the size and brand that gives me the most food for the least money.  Many purchase decisions involve a balancing act between quality and price.  Time management is based on accomplishing things of value rather than wasting time.

How often do we think of choosing wisely as adults?  We don't have a parent leaning over our shoulder reminding us to measure the wisdom of our choices.  Many times, our choices end up being made by what feels right at the moment, whether we're feeling pain, discomfort, hunger, anger, or joy, our decisions are often based on our circumstances. 

In I Samuel 25, David was responding to his circumstances in anger.  He was going to get what was due him.  Providentially, God sent Abigail to David to remind him of his need to choose wisely.  He did, and blessings were all around for almost all involved. 

It reminds me of how we need to be voices reminding others to "choose wisely."  Not scolding and railing on, but gently reminding others to consider the consequences of their choices.  We also need "Abigails" in our lives to remind us to think about the choices we make.  Maybe this will be a needed reminder for you today, I'm hoping it will be a reminder for me when I am tempted to respond without considering the consequences.

And David said to Abigail, Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: And blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand.
- I Samuel 25:32-33

Monday, August 9, 2010

He meets my needs!

We had a good week of seeing God's provision and I thought I would share to encourage you in your walk with the Lord as well.

Just over a week ago, we headed out to go to garage sales.  We sat down and made up a list of the things that were needed in our wardrobes for the coming year.  We aren't psychics, but just looked at what we had, where the kids are size wise, and where we think they will be by the end of the coming school year.  After piling into the van, we prayed and asked God if He would meet these needs through the garage sales we would find that day.  And if not, would He meet them in whatever way the He desired. 

The first several (loosely translated as 20-30) garage sales were fairly lousy, but toward the end of our hunting, we loaded up on a couple of hand made jumpers for Larissa, some pants and jeans for Austin, some assorted clothes for most of the kids, and even a few small bonuses.  All told, we hit some of everything on the list, except 1 or 2 that weren't really necessities. We came home praising the Lord for His provision.

This past week, we settled in, looked at the garden, and realized that it was not going to meet all of our produce needs for canning and freezing.  So, off to the produce auction I went.  On Tuesday, all the produce went for twice what I would be interested in paying.  Needless to say, I was kind of disappointed.  Thursday, we were given almost a bushel of beautiful tomatoes.  We ate some, and canned 14 quarts of tomatoes.  We also were able to get 2 bushel of sweet corn for $10.  We froze, and felt much better about how things were looking.  Even so, I headed to the auction Friday morning, as well.  And prices were lower than I have seen all year.  I bought sweet corn for $3.50 a bushel, plum tomatoes for $5.00 a half bushel, and a bushel box of green peppers for $6.00.  We also picked almost a bushel of green beans out of our garden.  In 2 days time, we canned or froze 104 quarts of veggies!

On Sunday, we were given a very full bushel of green beans, and today, at least a half bushel of green & yellow beans.  We look and see God's gracious hand of provision in all of these things.  Whether through our garden, or through the generosity of God's people, or through the providence of His hand at the auction, God has been very good.  I hope you have been encouraged by seeing His hand of provision in our lives, and I hope it has helped you to see His hand more clearly in providing for your needs, as well.

"Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?"    - Psalm 78:20

Monday, August 2, 2010

Chicken Eggs

Within the last week we have been enjoying the first eggs from our little flock of chickens.  Actually, just from one of the chickens, so far, but since Mara began laying, we have had a new egg just over 24 hours later.

Chickens have given me a great chance to observe instinct in animals.  God has pre-programmed chickens toward certain behaviors.  A rooster will learn to crow - even though he has never heard another rooster crow before.  A rooster will learn to fertilize the hens, even though he has not received any training.  Chickens will clean themselves, take dust baths to clean themselves and get rid of mites and bugs.

And the ultimate, in my book, hens will lay eggs.  No instruction manual, but inside of their bodies, they form the yolk, surround in with the white, and lastly, surround that with a shell that hardens when it hits the outside air.  Why do hens produce delicious eggs?  Because they are hens!  Very simple, but a great illustration.

The Bible tells us that Christians are to live in the Spirit - to allow the Spirit of God to control their lives, to abide in Christ, and fruit will come.  We tend to work at fruit production, read books, make plans, get discouraged if we don't see fruit.  But the truth is, if we would let the Spirit rule in our lives, abide in the vine, let the Word of God dwell richly in us - all phrases indicating our submission to God's will & way in our lives, we will produce fruit.  Why?  Because that is our character, that is what we were made to produce, that is what will naturally flow out of our lives.

Who knew I would learn so much from chickens?  I hope my chickens can be an encouragement to you today as well. (Or at the very least, an illustration of God's power at work in our lives)

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Colossians 3:16-17

Monday, July 19, 2010

"Thinking For a Change" - Book 'Review'

I have been repeatedly challenged about the importance of reading non fiction books over the past serveral months (and even years).  I often will just shrug it off because I am too busy to read, or push it aside because too many books have too many seeds that need to be spit out.  I once heard the comparison between reading a book and eating a watermelon.  It's fine to enjoy the fruit, but make sure that you spit out the seeds.  Sometimes, identifying the seeds is difficult, sometimes it is hard, but we need to be discerning readers when we are reading materials written by man (this blog included).

The book I am currently finishing up is "Thinking For a Change", by John Maxwell.  I think the title has a double meaning - firstly of thinking that will bring change (improvement) to our lives, and thinking, as opposed to not thinking in our lives (for a change).

The book is well written, and thoughtful (I guess it has to be, right).  It approaches the idea of thinking from many different angles that continues through the book to expand on the picture he is drawing - that purposeful, thinking makes a difference in the outcomes of our endeavors.  While some of the chapters seemed to me as repetitive and overlapping, they each gave a slightly different twist to his main point, and were helpful in that way.

The 'seeds' of the book were clear by the second chapter.  Maxwell states "And if I had stayed the same, I never would have spoken to more than the few hundred people I had in my first church.  But I desired to reach my potential, to go to the highest level of which I was capable.  I was determined to improve."  This sounds good and even spiritual in trying to be the best we can be, but there are some seeds below the surface.  Maxwell is a business man, he believes bigger is better.  To Maxwell, preaching to a few hundred people at his first church was a waste of his potential.  In his thinking, small churches have mediocre pastors, but the good pastors are given bigger churches.  I'm all for personal improvement, but wouldn't leadership at his first 'small' church have been a better test of his leadership?  This 'seed' is the lack of distinction between the way God's kingdom works, and the way things work in the kingdoms of men.  From that point on, it was easy to digest the fruit without choking on the seeds.

I desire to be a better pastor, a better communicator, an better leader, a better evangelist, a better father, a better husband, a better friend, a better neighbor, . . . (you get the idea).  I desire these things, not so that I can get a bigger church, speak to more people, lead 'better' people, get 'better' children, get a 'better' wife, get 'better' friends, or a 'better' neighborhood.  I desire these things so that I can be found faithful.  You might think that being a good pastor is different than being a better husband.  The connection between pastor and church is much different between husband and wife.  I agree, a husband and wife is a bond until death separates the two, but shouldn't a pastor be committed to the flock God has led him to?  Not 'til death do us part, but at least until God separates.  "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" would apply to churches and pastors if we understand that God leads a man to his ministry. 

I'll get off my soap box now, but I use my soap box to encourage and strengthen my resolve and my choices to live a godly life.  I hope it encourages you, as well.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Nothing Better in Life Nothing Better For a Man . . .

"There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God."
- Ecclesiastes 2:24

For many years, I have enjoyed the good in my labor.  I learned in my family the joy and fulfillment in working.  The good of accomplishing a task, the enjoyment of being physically tired, the pleasure in being able to do things with my own two hands.  I enjoyed being reminded from Scripture last week in my Bible reading that this joy is from the hand of God.  Labor is a gift from God, and the blessing that we receive from it is one of those "good and perfect" gifts from God.

This past week or so I have been able to enjoy some opportunities of physical labor for others.  Last week, I got to learn some haying and enjoy being tired from throwing around bales of hay.  Today I got to do some cleaning on a construction site.  Lathe and plaster is wonderful stuff to clean up, such a sense of fulfillment from cleaning it up and leaving the rooms cleaned up and ready for the next part of the project.

Of those that probably read my blog, most are hard workers and know this joy, but if you were looking for some encouragement this week, even God's Word tells us that labor is good.  With the heat of this week, take it easy, but enjoy not just the fruit of your labor, but enjoy the labor itself.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Garden Growth

It's official now that Memorial Day is past, up in in the north, gardening season is underway.  We often get late frosts as late as the first or second week in June, so we have to approach this season with caution.  I think we are past the frosts, but I did wake up this morning with the temperature already rising.  At 6 am, the temperature was 40 degrees, I imagine 5 am was a couple of degrees cooler.

Normally, this is the time of year I fall behind in my garden.  I plant carrots, beets & onions early, but when I go to plant the rest of the garden, weeds overtake my early plantings.  So far, the beets, onions and carrots have been weeded at least once, and all have been weeded in the last week.

Gardens are fun for me, and many say that I have a green thumb.  I'm not sure about my thumb, but I know that gardening is a lot of work.  The ground has to be prepared, the seed or seedling planted at the right depth, sufficient water and food need to be available to the plants, and plants have to be able to grow free from weeds or animals digging them up.  Why do I go through the effort?  Because I want the fruit of my labor - tasty, fresh vegetables. 

The same can be said in our walk with God.  Some people we may look at and say "They are just naturally a more spiritual person," but a vibrant spiritual life can be considered a lot of work.  We have to prepare our hearts with humility and a dependence on God.  We have to get God's Word planted in us from seed (reading the Bible) or seedling (sermons and Bible lessons) in the prepared soil of our heart in a way that it will spring forth and grow, rather than rot in the ground.  We have to feed and water these truths by bathing our lives in prayer and continuing to feed on God's Word.  As with many plants, it also helps to grow near and with others (like corn) so the winds of life don't push us over.  We have to be vigilant to weed out of our hearts thoughts and influences that don't belong, and protect God's truth from crows that would pluck the seed out of our hearts, and dogs who would dig them up. 

A lot of work.  Why would anyone do it?  For the fruits that come - a life that pleases God and receives His favor.  I normally post a verse at this point, but this post, I'm going to add a verse from a Hymn we sang on Sunday.
Must I be carried to the skies
On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?
I hope any garden you've planted in dirt or in your heart is receiving the attention it needs today.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Purpose of Pain

I have realized this week that we often have a disjointed view of pain.  When pain causes me to pull my hand back from further injury from a flame, or a sharp object, or a moving object scraping away my skin, I view pain as a good thing.  I appreciate the warning that the pain is to me in removing my hand from the place where further injury could occur.

When a pain causes us to go to the doctor and get checked out, so that the doctor finds the underlying cause of the pain and fixes something that could have caused our body a great deal of harm.  While we do not enjoy the pain, we can appreciate the purpose it has served in our body.

Pain is God's way of telling us that there is something wrong.  For those who suffer from chronic pain, it would be easy to say "Enough!," but the truth remains that the pain tells us that there is something wrong. 

Our view of pain becomes disjointed when we move away from the physical realm.  Pain in relationships.  Pain from people, pain in losing something we care about.  These things aren't physical pain, although the pain caused can affect us physically.  When we move into this realm, we more often than not view the pain as the problem.  We seek to remove the pain.  Someone has hurt me, I will not give them that opportunity again  so we shut them out.  We have lost someone we love, so we purpose not to love that deeply again.  We take offense at something someone says to us, and we view them as the problem. 

If we carry over our lesson from physical pain, could it be that we often look to solve our pain by fixing other people?  Why is that?  Could it be that emotional pain in our hearts and minds is more indicative of something wrong in us?  Why do I take offense at gossip shared about me?  Because I have pride in who I am, or in what I've done, and it hurts my pride.  Certainly the gossip is wrong, and should be fixed, but is it possible that the pain is pointing to a part of myself that also needs to get fixed?  If we dealt with the pain from that perspective, it will free us up to forgive as God desires us to. 

I don't know if I've been as clear as the thoughts seem to be in my mind, today, but I hope I've encouraged you to view emotional pain in a different light.  As a symptom of pride in some form in our lives that needs to be dealt with.  When we count up the wrongs against us in our minds, it forms a blockade in our hearts against forgiveness, but when we take ourselves out of the picture, remove the pride that tells us that we deserve better treatment than we got, we'll be free to live without pain, and with forgiving hearts.

Why deal with pride?  because:
"He must increase,
but I must decrease" 
John 3:30

Thursday, May 13, 2010

God is Good

It almost feels silly to title a blog entry that "God is good."  Of course He is good, basically, the whole point of my blog is to comment on situations in life and show God's goodness and how God shows his love and mercy and grace in all of life's circumstances.  Many things over the past few weeks have been piling up to declare God's goodness, and I wanted to share some of them.

God promises to provide for our needs.  We know that, but normally we like to figure out how it will all work out.  I'm a budget guy, I like to see it in my budget, figure out how to make the budget work, and stick to it.  The problem is, 6 growing children has made it harder and harder to stick to our budget in the food and clothing categories.  Not the end of the world, I assure you, but still something that was beginning to weigh on my mind.  Garage sales had come up short the last two summers, the garden hasn't been as productive in the freezing and canning areas, so we were beginning to feel a pinch.

A couple of weeks ago, I began more earnestly praying for God to provide our needs.  At times it feels selfish, because we already have so much, but I knew that God wants us to call out to him and trust his provision.  Strange things have been happening ever since.  We had a windfall of clothing finds at the first set of garage sales of the season, on top of a friend offering to buy things we needed at garage sales.  So much for the clothing budget pinch.  We continue to pray that God would provide for those needs, but less worried about how.  That's up to God.

Last week, I got a check in the mail from the NY labor dept.  It said that I had been underpaid at a previous job over 6 years ago, and the check was what was owed me by my previous employer.  Not a significant check, but a reminder that God has more resources to meet our needs than we know about.

This week, we were the beneficiaries of some leftover food from a wedding reception.  I had just told the church on Sunday that it is strange to pray for our daily bread when we know where it is already - whether we have the loaves on the counter, or have the flour to make bread in the cupboard.  But there, in the pile of food that was given to us, were 36 rolls to go with the sliced roast beef.  Truth was, I didn't know where my daily bread was coming from, and God had to remind me.  It comes from him.

These are the highlights, but by no means the total of God's blessings over the past few weeks.  I could tell of God working to neutralize gossip and false witness in the church and town, of God working in a families lives to grow and challenge them in Gods Word, of answers to prayer on many fronts.  Sometimes we focus on the struggles and the challenges, but today, I wanted to focus on the blessings.  God is good!

Praise ye the LORD. 
O give thanks unto the LORD; 
for he is good: 
for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 106:1

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chickens, Part II

I've learned a lot about chickens in the last few weeks.  They are often classified as not too smart.  They will kick their food out of the dish, they will kick bedding into the water dish, sometimes they will shiver rather than go toward the heat lamp, and sometimes, you may have to gently put a chicken's beak in the water to get it to drink. 

This morning, while cleaning out one of the brooder compartments, one with chicks in it that we have had two full weeks now, I was impressed with how terrified these chicks are of me.  We have fed them, cleaned their bedding, provided fresh, clean water, and provided adequate heat as their feathers are growing in.  But they are still terrified to be held.  We are told that the more time a chick spends being held and in contact with humans, the tamer they will be as adult chickens around humans.

I suppose they don't know what is going on, for the most part, and are scared, wondering what I will do to them.  Yet it is a neat principle for us to understand: the more the contact, the more comfortable they become.  On the spiritual side, the more contact we have with God, through prayer and time in His Word, the more comfortable we are with Him.  As we learn and grow, the difficulties in life won't terrify us as they did before, because we'll trust God's hands.  We won't doubt His plan and how it is playing out in our lives, because we have become comfortable with His handling of us.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.   - Psalm 16:11

God's presence is terrifying to think of in terms of His holiness and righteousness, but when we understand His love, kindness, and care for us, His presence can be a source of joy in our lives.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


No, I'm not calling names.  We have recently been working at raising chicks.  That will be my excuse of the day for not blogging for the last several weeks.  We are well into the process of raising chickens - a pretty, red coop in the side yard, a reinforced run for the chickens to roam in, and heat lamps in the brooder room full of 22 baby and not so baby chicks.  They range from a few days old, up to 4-5 weeks old at this point.  We have Cornish Rock (meat birds), Rhode Island Red, White Leghorn, Amberlinks, and some assorted birds that we are unsure of what they are as of yet. 

This far into the process, we have learned something.  Chickens are a lot of work!  Building the coop, preparing the brooders, cleaning the brooders, feeding and watering the chickens.  There has been plenty to do!  There hasn't been any complaints about all the work, as of yet.  The families love for the cute, cudly chickens, and my love for designing and building things have made the work light. 

We heard that chickens are easy to raise, and I guess in comparison, they are right.  Compared to children, chicks are low maintenance.  Compared to cows, they don't eat very much.  Compared to elephants, they don't soil their bedding much. 

Then I think of our Heavenly Father.  He not only provides for the chickens of the field (loose translation), and the flowers of the field, but He provides for us.  What a lot of work that must entail on a daily basis - but my God is up to the task, and has the love to mean that the work will not become a burden to him.

As you think of the work you have in caring for your responsibilities, remember the joy Our Heavenly Father has in caring for His responsibilities and smile, realizing that even though His burden is so great, He has promised to take all of our cares upon Him as well.

Humble yourselves therefore 
under the mighty hand of God, 
that he may exalt you in due time:
Casting all your care upon him; 
for he careth for you.- I Peter 5:6-7

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When things look dark.

It has been a few weeks since a post.  That means that I've been a lazy blogger.  There has been plenty of lessons learned over the past 3-4 weeks, I just haven't sat down to put them into writing.  There have been a few discouragements, but, as always, I am amazed at the goodness of God in turning dark times into bright times.

Perhaps no where is that point made more clearly than the events that we celebrate this week.  Jesus was arrested, tried, and sentenced to death without actually being convicted.  Instead of passover being a time to celebrate God's deliverance, his disciples and followers were mourning his loss.  A three year 'ride' that they thought would propel them into leadership in Jesus' kingdom appeared to be brought to a screeching halt.  They probably felt a huge sense of loss - of Jesus, and maybe the loss of three years of their lives, their reputations, their dreams.

With God, darkness doesn't have to be the end.  Because Jesus rose from the dead, God can turn dark times in our lives into bright times as well.  It starts by turning the darkness of our sin into the brightness of Jesus' righteousness. 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness
I John 1:9
Once we've taken that step, we find that the darkest that the world has to throw at us cannot hide the light of His glory from shining through in our lives.  I could give many examples from my own life, but if you've asked for forgiveness, you have plenty of your own, and if you haven't come to Jesus for forgiveness, you probably wouldn't believe me anyway.  

I hope as we approach "Good Friday" and Resurrection Sunday, that you are able to celebrate the light that God has shone into your life.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Things We Get Used To . . .

Have you ever thought how easy it is to get used to things in our lives.  Bad habits can stack up like firewood when we get used to things that are not beneficial.  We get used to driving, instead of walking - even get used to finding the best parking space so we don't have to walk a few extra steps.  We get used to eating for pleasure rather than for nutrition and strength.  We get used to having what we want, when we want it.  We get used to things to the point of feeling we deserve them (affordable health care, nice cars, comfortable homes, 'good' food, high-speed Internet, phone service, cell service, cable/satellite tv, etc.)

How much work does it take to get 'used to' these things?  Very little - in fact, we kind of fall into these habits.

Yet how easy is it to get used to good habits?  Growing in our walk with the Lord, reading our Bibles, prayer,  loving our neighbors, helping those in need?  Why don't we 'fall' into these habits?

The things we get used to easily shows us the things that we value in life.  When we value comfort, convenience, and pleasure it is easy to fall into bad habits.  When we value growth, godliness, and spiritual things, it will be easy to fall into good habits.

Often we may struggle to conform our actions to what we desire them to be, but if we conform our hearts to value those things that God values, we will find it easy to follow through with proper actions.  I must confess that I often fall short in this area,  but as the blog says: "Moving on up" - I hope these thoughts help you (and me) to move on up today.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.- Luke 6:45

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lessons from a loaf of bread

I love to bake!  I think I pretty much always have.  My favorite things to bake has almost always been sweets: cookies, brownies, cakes, pies - anything sweet.  In an effort towards a more healthy lifestyle, we have been doing more baking of breads and bread products (bagels, pitas, rolls, buns, you name it!)  We have been using whole grain wheat and grinding it at home for over a month now, and have enjoyed the extra flavor of good homemade bread, and the knowledge that our bread was better for us.  This past week, we saw mention of the dangers of whole wheat flour - and an investigation has followed.  Phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors are present in whole grains and many suggest soaking grains to convert the phytic acid and neutralize the enzyme inhibitors.

After looking into various facts and points of view, we have decided that phytic acid is not a dangerous substance for most diets, and enzyme inhibitors are not dangerous when fresh fruits and vegetables are part of the diet.  At this point, you're probably wondering what my point is, this blog is not usually about baking.

In our investigation, we stumbled onto sourdough bread - a fermented starter that neutralizes phytic acid, enzyme inhibitors, and food spoilage bacteria.  And the bacteria that causes the rising in the bread, even though killed in the baking process, gives added flavor and nutrients to the bread.  So for the last several days, we have had sourdough starter (named 'Fred') sitting on our counter.  Fred is a hearty guy, but fred needs something on a regular basis.  Fred needs to be fed.  Fred is healthy; his bacteria fight off food spoilage, kill of non-beneficial bacteria, and cause my bread to rise properly when preparing for baking.  Fred takes carbohydrates and gives off tiny CO2 bubbles that make light and fluffy loaves.  But in order to do that, Fred needs food - good food.  So every 12 hours on the counter (2-3 days in the fridge), I need to add more flour and water to Fred to keep him growing and protected.

Fred struck me this morning as a picture of our spiritual lives.  With proper feeding and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we grow healthily to fight off the attacks of sinful influences and spoilage that comes from wrong thoughts and actions.  With proper feeding, growth is evidenced in out lives and spreads easily to infect all areas of our lives.  But without proper feeding, just like Fred, we would cease to grow, and not have the strength to fight off unwanted influences and the spoilage that comes from them.

Fred likes to be fed twice a day, when is your next feeding?

"As newborn babes, 
desire the sincere milk of the word, 
that ye may grow thereby:
If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious." 
- I Peter 2:2-3

Friday, February 12, 2010


It's always interesting to hear how some people talk about 'sheltered' kids in a way that makes it clear their disgust for the parents who shelter, and sympathy for the poor children being sheltered.  I suppose, at one time or another, I have made comments about someone living a sheltered life - because they didn't know what a tuna melt was, or was unaware of some piece of pop culture that I was familiar with.  Yet, everyone could be considered sheltered in that respect.  No one knows everything or has experienced every experience.  So the question is, what things should we experience?

If experience is your god - that is, if your list of experiences and knowledge is what is important to you, then any sheltering might seem to be bad, but is it?  Would such a person want to experience exposure to a desert climate with no water, or an arctic environment without proper protection?  Even for such a person, there is a limit to what they desire to experience.  Not many people would want to experience that which would harm or destroy them.

We have always sheltered my children.  We do not allow them to play in the street, we always attach them to their car seats, we keep the poisonous chemicals out of reach, and we have trained ourselves to avoid 'bad' words in our speech (stupid, dumb, idiot - in favor of biblical words like foolish and sinful).  Recently, we have stepped up our efforts in the sheltering area.

To some, it may seem like we are already overboard.  To others, they may wonder what took so long.  At any rate, we have seen that sheltering does not just apply to our children - it applies to our lives as well.  What message does it send to tell a child that "This is a show for mommy and daddy?"  It tells them that sinful words and behaviors are OK to watch when you are more mature.  Wouldn't it be better to show my children that sinful behaviors and words are less tolerable to a spiritually mature believer?  A healthy man who eats right and exercises cannot ingest poison without consequence 'better' than an out of shape couch potato.

For the last several years, I have enjoyed NASCAR races, and even real sporting events like football from time to time.  All  the time trying to tell my children that I find it unacceptable that their jobs require them to work on Sunday.  My children would 'play' sports and talk about sports as something they could do when they grow up.  Could a football player take a stand and not play in the Superbowl because it was on Sunday?  Would coaches agree to take on a player that would only play games that didn't fall on Sunday?  The long and short (mostly long) of it is that we have disconnected the antenna from our TV.  Even our favorite viewing of PBS is training our children to be entertained.  As I look at my goals for my children, I want them to be creative, to serve others, but most importantly, to put God first in their lives.  As I look at my goals for myself as a parent, I want to be a parent that spends time with my children, and interacts with them rather than entertains them.

So, we are simplifying.  But simplifying is not simple.  As you think of us (whether you agree or not), please pray that we would be diligent in seeking the best for our family and our children.  And if you want us to pray specifically for you, leave a comment and we'll be in prayer for you.  I'm looking up because my future is bright!

"And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." Revelation 21:23

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Standardized Testing

Ah, the joys of homeschooling!  As headmaster of the school, I am not responsible for the day to day teaching of our students.  I am, however, responsible for filling in, printing, and filing paperwork with our local school district.  Every year, we need to submit some form of evaluation of our children's progress.  This also is my responsibility.  For the last two years, we have used the Iowa tests, given in the spring to submit tangible proof of the education of our children to the district. 

The Iowa test is a battery of tests that are 'standardized'.  This means that grades are not computed on percent of answers right, but grades are computed based on where the student's score compares to other students in their age/grade level.  A child is then labeled by 'percentile' in each area of the test.  A child may score a 98%, meaning that they scored better than 98% of children at their grade level.  Standardized tests are nice because they show how well a child is progressing compared to their peers.

But a standardized test has it's drawbacks.  A standardized test has the drawback of only being useful in comparison to another person.  This works decently for education purposes, but it fails completely when it comes to our walk with God.  A standardized test grades on 'the curve': a normalized distribution of grades under a bell shaped curve.  In a normal distribution 68% of individuals fall within 1 standard deviation of the norm.  68% of people are characterized as average.

When we carry this over to our walk with God, it is easy to think that if we are average, we must be doing OK.  This would be the case if God's standard was the 'norm' - or the average of all behavior.  But God's standard is absolute holiness.  That means that the bell curve can be thrown out, because no matter where we fall compared to others, we fall far short of God's absolute standard. 

In school, there was at times pressure from some in a class for everyone to 'throw' a test.  If it was known that a test was graded on a curve, it was believed that if everyone did horribly bad, then everyone would get a good score.  I never knew this to work perfectly, because someone always did their best.  In that case, someone who only scored a 70% could get the highest grade in the class! 

Since God's standard is different, we ought to pressure one another to do better, we ought to rejoice in the spiritual victories of others.  They don't 'throw off the curve' for the rest of us, but as we grow together, we can encourage one another to press on towards God's holy standard.

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
 - I Peter 1:15-16

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Yes We Can!

Today is special election day in Massachusetts - I hear the turnout so far is incredible as many go to the polls to either keep the seat in the Democratic Party, or to try and derail the health care bill working it's way through our government.  We truly live in a blessed country where we have even some control over who gets into office.  I have heard many times, "Why can't we just put it to a referendum and let the citizens vote on health care reform?"  More than probably any other nation out there, we already have. 

Each November, our citizens are given the privilege to elect officials into office.  Whether you agree or disagree with the Electoral College system that we have for Presidents, we have much more control than anywhere else in the world over what takes place in our government.  I suppose at this point I could say that we have gotten what we deserve through our careless approach to the freedoms of choice we have in this country, but that would not do justice to the point of my blog - taking the things in this world that can get us down, and using them to look up.

With that in mind, we have no more, or less control over the affairs of our government than anywhere else in the world.  In studying Daniel chapter 2 for Sunday School this past week, we have to realize that the hearts of the Kings (Czars, Emperors, Presidents, Dictators, etc.) are in the hand of God.  He reveals what He will to who He will to accomplish His plan.  And as Scripture tells us "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD," It would be foolish for us to ask the question "How could this be God's will?"  And as we are instructed to "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's," it would be foolish to not participate in the election process that our government has to allow our voice to be heard.

"Yes We Can" may have been the rallying call during the last election cycle of our current President, but it is also a truth for those of us who live in the United States.  We can have a voice in the political process, but more importantly, if we are children of the King, we can trust Him no matter what things look like in the affairs of men.

"Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision"  - Psalm 2:1-4

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I suppose that the discipline shown in my blog would make the title of this blog seem a bit out of place.  When we think of how many areas of discipline we have in our lives, it is almost overwhelming to try to get them all under control.  Trying to keep up a blog to organize thoughts and lessons learned, eating right, exercising, flossing (one of my least favorites), personal and familial devotional times, patience, love, sympathy, time schedule, work & family responsibilities - to say nothing of disciplines that other people's blogs remind me of.

So which discipline do I work on first?  Well, that is the easy question.

"For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." - I Timothy 4:8

In thinking of discipline, I have come to the conclusion that discipline breeds discipline.  Discipline in one area of our lives is bound to influence other areas of our lives as well.  But when I think about the discipline of godliness, I'm hard pressed to find an area of discipline that I should have in my life that it doesn't address.  Since there is no area of our lives that is not addressed by the truths of Scripture, there is no area of discipline that remains untouched by a commitment to godliness.  Even beyond that, a pursuit of godliness will correct any deviant disciplines in our lives.  Are we disciplined to increase our wealth?  Scripture will correct that.  Are we disciplined to watch a particular show?  Or to entertain ourselves?  Scripture will correct that. 

I'm not a fan of new year's resolutions.  Partly because they are often made with a "doubt I will do it" attitude, and partly because the "new year" is just another day.  But each day we can resolve ourselves to discipline ourselves unto godliness.  And at the end of the year?  I can guarantee that we will have progressed much better than any other resolution could take us.  The Bible's words actually guarantee that for us.

Happy New Year! :)