Monday, August 29, 2011

The adventure continues

8/27/11 Saturday, Sunday, and Monday
I got on the tractor early this morning, hurrying to disc up the soil before it dries out. Was surprised yesterday at how fast it was drying. In the morning had planted cantaloupe seed in soil that was plenty wet from the big rain we got the night before. When I went back out after dinner the soil was already bone dry for the top inch, and had hardened into a crust, so I knew that in this 100 plus degree heat it would dry out fast.

I haven’t run the tractor much this year, only once I think. That would be the one other time we had any moisture in the ground in eleven months. Unfortunately the tractor has a leak and most of the hydraulic fluid had disappeared. I discovered this when I went to raise the discs up so I wouldn’t chop up my irrigation tubing. It didn’t raise and I chopped it up. Nuts!!! So I poured what was left from the five gallon bucket of fluid into the tractor and that still didn’t register on the dipstick at all. Oh well, it was at least enough to lift the discs so I got back to discing up the soil.

Then I had another surprise. Running back around to make another pass on one of the pathways we have I was amazed to find a flood of water pouring out of an exposed PVC pipe. The reason I was amazed was this pipe had been installed three years ago. A good friend had rented a trencher and bought the pipe so we could install this vital part of our farm, the plumbing to extend water to most parts of the five acres we have initially used to create this business. The pipe you see was buried almost two feet deep in the ground. What is amazing is this is a clear illustration of just how much soil the wind can erode away over time. Of course we didn’t really notice it, at least not how much it was, because this happened slowly over three years. However I believe most of that was just in the last eleven months of drought. That’s a lot of dirt gone. We have other areas that are now two feet higher than they were and areas like this that are two feet lower. When I can get grass growing it will prevent further erosion, but till then we get this. There is so much we can and plan on doing, but it all takes money and more labor than one person with a bad back can do.

The next picture shows a blessing that came with the storm. All these telephone poles are the ones that the storm snapped in half. I saw the crews working and picking them up yesterday so stopped and asked if I could have them. “Sure, it would save us a trip taking them back to the yard” the foreman said. When they pulled up later to unload I made sure to give the guys some watermelons. There were some melons that the storm was so strong it rolled them down the path quite a ways.

I had wanted more telephone poles anyway so this way I had them delivered. I’ll get the chain saw out and chop off the splintered parts and use the rest as fence posts and liners for garden plots.

Had a good meeting with the elders we visit with on Friday afternoons. It’s sad the HeBrew has closed and looks like I won’t be able to get it opened back up. Was surprised at how unenthusiastic the former manager of the place was regarding my desire to obtain funding and support for it. I guess after 8 years it was wearing on him. I don’t know, but all ministry can be a burden, and we all can become weary.

I was asked about the church that kicked me out. It was hard for me to not express my views on what really happened there, not go into details, for to do that would make me guilty of the same gossip that had been used against us, make me just as big a hypocrite as they are. But it also raised up my responsibility regarding those who performed this deed. My concern isn’t at all about the wrong done to us, about the hurt caused, but it is for their spiritual well being. I have forgiven them from my heart, but fear for them also. What’s done to me is of no consequence, for if I am persecuted for righteousness sake that is a blessing. People can spit in my face, and that just blesses me for so they did with Jesus before me. What I know though, is that they will have to stand before the living God, who will judge us all, so for that I have great concern. Jesus was clear, many times, regarding the consequences of how we treat others. In Mark 9:42 He placed a child on His lap and said “Whoever causes one of these little ones, who believes, to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea”.

In Mathew 25 Jesus tells succinctly of that final day. He starts out with the sheep being separated from the goats, a telling illustration that speaks of the same thing His parable of the wheat and weeds does, how in the church there will be both good and bad present, those who are true believers and those who just think they are.

Mathew 25:31 "But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats ; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 "Then the King will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 'For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat ; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink ; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.' 37 "Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink ? 38 'And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 'When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' 40 "The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' 41 "Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels ; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat ; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink ; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.' 44 "Then they themselves also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?' 45 "Then He will answer them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.' 46 "These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

At our luncheon meeting I was surprised to find myself teaching these elders of the Christian community in Midland. I had opened my bible and it naturally opened where I had a bookmark. Cecil said “What do you have to share with us today?” so I looked down and saw it was on Isaiah 58, an area I had just been studying. I read a great part of it and it speaks of the same thing I just addressed above, of the religious people who are so far off base. “"Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God”. That sounds pretty good doesn’t it? What can be wrong here? How many people we know and have seen who seek God daily, who delight to display their Christianity, who crave and bask in the nearness of God, or at least think they do. There is a self deception that religiosity brings, a dangerous deception that can lead to hell. In it great pride reigns, great self aggrandizement as they strut proudly displaying their faith. But…

But the prophet goes on to reveal God’s view of these people. They complain “'Why have we fasted and You do not see ? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice ?' and God answers "Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.” I have watched, watched as prayers are not answered but also watched as those who’s prayers aren’t answered pretend they are and call it “Walking in faith”. Claiming the victory when nothing has happened, denying the reality before them. And I have watched their confusion as they try to hide it. It was sad to see, sad to watch the blind leading the blind, knowing they both will fall into a ditch.

They speak of hearing the “Voice of God” but what they hear is their own imagination. For God brings unity, God brings peace, God brings fellowship and compassion. God is Love and love is that which chooses for the good of the other person over what you may desire. It is sacrificing your will to help and build up the other. If the “voice” they are hearing brings division and discord, separation and not unity, if it tears down, not builds up, that voice has it’s roots in the demonic realm. It is the voice of Satan, not the Holy God who so loved the world He gave His only son, who gives life.

Isaiah said “You fast for contention and strive, to strike with a wicked fist” and this is something I have also seen, and experienced. Was talking to a brother recently who told of a church he was asked to leave. In this church there were “Words from the Lord” and prophesies, but these prophesies were told in private to individuals, not publicly to be judged as the scripture instructs. These prophesies caused division and clearly were a tool used by this pastor to achieve her goals. I have talked to others who have also had similar bad experiences in church. Cherie and I experienced this at a huge level during our first marriage, as those who were “Spiritual” had prophesies and words from the Lord that were aimed at tearing our marriage apart. And they did. They were even casting out demons from me by proxy, having others stand in for me as a group surrounded them, all laying hands on the person representing me, and just having a holy good time doing what the bible clearly forbids. Then patting themselves on the back regarding what a great work for the Lord they had done, how they had beat back the forces of Satan with their prayers, when all they had done was the devils work.

There is so much “Counterfeit Christianity” out there, it is often hard to discern the truth from a lie. The sad part is the participants are often totally deceived, thinking they are doing God’s will, when they are far from it.

Life is getting busy as ministry opportunities increase. We have some full schedules ahead with two Kairos events at two prisons coming up, along with other chances to teach in prisons. I’ll go check out a new one today at the Smith prison, called The Quest for Authentic Manhood, and decide if I want to be involved.

Meantime there is always farm work to do. A brother in white just got out of prison after 15 years in and we were surprised and glad to see him at the Stepping Stone halfway house. Had gone there for a recruitment barbecue for Kairos when I heard a voice say “Bob”. Looking around I saw him and ran to give him a hug. It’s scary to be free after 15 years in prison. Everything has changed and is different. Cell phones were not common when he went away so even operating a phone requires education. But he has great support at Stepping Stone and with those of us who knew him in prison. That’s what it’s about, loving and caring for others, showing Jesus in your life and actions. Even saying that brings sadness because of what we experienced in that little church in Stanton. May God have mercy on them.

Got to go. Busy day scheduled.

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