Tuesday, February 13, 2018

David's Digest: Coming Boldly to the Throne

Heb 4:16 - "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

It seems to me this verse can be used to approach God in ways that we might approach just anyone, or in any way we might feel. And while the Bible declares God to be the friend and father of saints, I believe it cannot be forgotten that He is almighty God, holy King and majestic Lord! Would we approach an earthly king or even a civil magistrate just however we felt like it? I think not.

The following are some gleanings that I believe accurately reflect how we should and should not approach God, and for what reasons most importantly:

First, how did Esther approach her king and husband no less? Here is from Esther 4:15-5:2:

15 Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,

16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him.

1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king's house, over against the king's house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house.

2 And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.

Esther recognized the authority of her king over her in that she knew she was transgressing the law and that he could punish her to death for it, and she came in proper apparel fit for the presence of a king showing reverence. She and her people had also prepared themselves beforehand in humility.

I believe these show us we need to be dressed in Christ's righteousness to approach God, and only this way dressed shows reverence to His holiness and respect for His declared order (John 14:6 - "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."), and that approaching God belligerently or in pride ("God I have something to say to you!" under the guise that "Oh, God is big enough to handle it!") could very well bring down the King's wrath upon us.


The following is from JC Ryle on prayer, which you can read in full here, that discusses improper and proper prayer boldness:
(g) I commend to you, in the next place, the importance of boldness in prayer. There is an unseemly familiarity in some men's prayers, which I cannot praise.

But there is such a thing as a holy boldness, which is exceedingly to be desired. I mean such boldness as that of Moses, when he pleads with God not to destroy Israel: "Wherefore," says he, "should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains...Turn from thy fierce wrath" (Exo 32:12). I mean such boldness as that of Joshua, when the children of Israel were defeated before Ai: "What," says he, "what wilt thou do unto thy great name?" (Jos 7:9).

This is the boldness for which Luther was remarkable. One who heard him praying said, "What a spirit—what a confidence was in his very expressions! With such a reverence he sued, as one begging of God, and yet with such hope and assurance as if he spake with a loving father or friend".

Here also I fear we sadly come short. We do not sufficiently realize the believer's privileges. We do not plead as often as we might, "Lord, are we not Thine own people? Is it not for Thy glory that we should be sanctified? Is it not for Thine honor that thy gospel should increase?"


Finally, here is what Puritan commentator Dr. John Gill says about Heb 4:16, indicating the main reasons for coming before the throne of God:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace
Either to Christ, who is before spoken of as an high priest, and who was typified by the mercy seat, to which there seems to be an allusion; and coming to him as a priest upon his throne is very proper: to him saints come for pardon and cleansing, and for a justifying righteousness, for the acceptance of their persons, and the presentation of their services, and for every supply of grace; and to him they may come "boldly", since he stands in the relations of a Father, husband, and brother, and from him they may expect receive mercy, since it is kept for him, and with him, and is only dispensed through him; and in him they may hope to find grace, since all fulness of it dwells in him; and help in every time of need, since their help is laid on him.

Or else to God the Father, since Christ, the high priest, is the way of access to God, and it is by him the saints come unto the Father; who is represented as on a "throne", to show his majesty, and to command reverence; and as on a "throne of grace", to encourage distressed souls to come unto him; and to express his sovereignty in the distribution of his grace:

And this coming to him is a sacerdotal act, for every believer is a priest; and is not local, but spiritual, and with the heart, and by faith; and chiefly regards the duty of prayer, and a drawing nigh to God in that ordinance with spiritual sacrifices to offer unto him:

And this may be done "boldly"; or "with freedom of speech"; speaking out plainly all that is in the heart, using an holy courage and intrepidity of mind, free from servile fear, and a bashful spirit; all which requires an heart sprinkled from an evil conscience, faith, in the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ, a view of God, as a God of peace, grace, and mercy, and a holy confidence of being heard by him;

And such a spirit and behaviour at the throne of grace are very consistent with reverence of the divine Majesty, with submission to his will, and with that humility which becomes saints. ...

The end of coming hither is,

that we may obtain mercy;
the sure mercies of David, the blessings of the everlasting covenant; particularly pardoning mercy, and the fresh application of it, and every other blessing of grace that is needful: and there is reason to expect it, since there is mercy with God; and it is with Christ, as the head of the covenant; and it is ready for those that ask it; and it has been obtained by many, and is everlasting.

And find grace to help in time of need;
the Syriac version renders it, "in time of affliction"; which is a time of need, as every time of distress is, whether from the immediate hand of God, or through the persecutions of men, or the temptations of Satan: and help at such times may be expected; since not only God is able to help, but he has promised it; and he has laid help on Christ; and gives it seasonably, and at the best time; and it springs from grace, yea, it is grace that does help; by which may be meant, the discoveries of God's love, and the supplies of grace from Christ: which may be hoped for, seeing God is the God of all grace; and he is seated on a throne of grace; and all fulness of grace dwells in Christ: to find grace often, signifies to find favour with God, to be accepted by him, as well as to receive grace from him.

May God grant us a holy awe, fear, and reverence of Him, for who He is, and what He has done, His great works throughout time, the salvation of sinners, the revelation of Himself through Christ, Christ's righteousness, His infinite graces, mercies and love, and the gift of His Spirit; and may these bring us to humility before Him and cause us to love Him in return!

-- David

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A House - Update XLIX - The Porch, Lower Siding, & Window Sills

It's been a while since our last house update -- June of last year in fact -- and so, we thought we'd catch you up on the progress on the house the Lord has graciously granted!


The Porch

It was finally time to start getting going on some external siding, but before that, we needed to be able to figure out where the porch was going to attach to the house because siding placement would be determined by that. Plus, the stairs we had in front of the house leading into the front door were a little unstable, and so I wanted to get into place a temporary set up that was a little less rickety as well.

We started by going around the outer porch beams along the porch posts to find the highest point so we could level the porch all the way around off of that. We used the water level we used when leveling the foundation piers, which works great for long distances.

Once that was figured out, it was time to put up the siding tar paper:

Lower East Siding Tar Paper


And then the porch ledger board...

Lower East Side with Porch Leadger Board


...bolted to the outside main structure floor joists (which are doubled up on the east and west sides, since walls are sitting on them):

Porch Ledger Board Bolted to Joists


We also needed to put the final porch beams in place. You'll notice the one side isn't even with the porch beam next to it. This is because I discovered when trying to find the porch leveling point that the north east corner of the porch is probably 3 inches or so lower than it should be. Oops. I'm not sure how I managed that, but as we go around installing the porch joists, Lord willing, I'll have to raise the beams to get them more level:

Installing New Porch Beams


And here they are installed:

New Porch Beam in Place


I did some research on how to do the flashing over the ledger board, and this YouTube video is the one I went with. It's z-shaped with a little lip that juts out from the ledger board, forcing a space between the joist and the ledger board preventing water from being kept next to the joist potentially causing future rot:

Porch Ledger Flashing


And here's a side view of the flashing:

Porch Ledger Flashing Side View


Here is a joist hanger in place, nailed in with hanger nails:

Porch Joist Hanger on Ledger


And with a joist attached:

Porch Joist Attached to Hanger


This joist I had to notch to get around a porch post:

Porch Joist Notched to Go Around Porch Post


And here is the first set of porch joists in place. I used the 3-4-5 rule to get the first joist square with the house:

Porch Joists in Place with Outside Header


I put this board in place just so the joists would maintain correct separation:

Porch Joist Spacer Board


And then I tacked down a couple of leftover plywood pieces for now, moved the steps to the side of the porch, and added a set of steps to be able to walk over the beams. It's much easier to get into the house now! :)

Temporary Porch with Stairs Over Beams


Lower External Siding

Thankfully, the lower OSB siding is somewhat protected from the elements being under the porch roof, but eventually that won't last, so we have started putting up siding on the lower external part of the house, beginning with the north side, which seems to see the most weather activity.

Here is some of the tar paper in place behind the porch ledger board:

Lower North Siding Tar Paper


And this what I used to elevate a piece of siding so it doesn't set directly on the flashing, once again to keep things out of sitting moisture:

Siding Spacer


And here is some of the siding in place:

Lower North Siding Begun


I had to cut a hole in the siding for the electrical inlet:

Lower North Siding Electrical Inlet


And here is more siding done:

Lower North More Siding Done


And then the whole side complete!

Lower North Siding Done


Now, we need to choose a color, paint it, and add window trim, and then it should be all done.


Internal Window Sills

In an attempt to continue to seal in the inside of the house from air leaks to help keep in the warmth, I've started putting up boards on the inside of the window sills with the plan to eventually come back and finish the front part of the sills later.

Here is lower bedroom:

Bedroom Lower Windows Inside Sills


And upper kitchen. During one of our recent cold fronts, Sue could see the cobwebs moving, and so it was important to get them done, especially on these upper north-facing ones:

Kitchen Upper Windows Inside Sills


Here is lower great room:

Great Room Lower Windows Inside Sills


And finally, upper great room:

Great Room Upper Windows Inside Sills


As always, we are very thankful to the Lord for granting the provisions to be able to continue on the house. We always pray it's a place of worship and a nice gathering place for His Church.

-- David

Friday, January 12, 2018

Song - Jehovah is His Name!

Some years ago, I thought I should learn the names of God -- what He calls Himself in His word -- so that I could acknowledge Him as He has declared Himself to be acknowledged. I believe in the regulative principle of worship, in that, the Bible, and thus God Himself, declares how He will be worshiped, and that is to be our sole guide. Since He has given Himself many names, a few of them I knew already, like Jehovah-Jirah (our provider -- I even wrote a blog post on that one), and Jehovah-Rapha (our healer), but I wanted to be able to know more of them so I could call Him those in my prayers.

Well, I did a search, and I'm not sure if this is the exact page I found that first time, and I don't think it is, but it does have the names I learned way back then: Redemptive Names of God and What They Mean, and here is another site that has a similar listing: Names of God (I am not vouching for the rest of the content on these sites):

Jehovah-Jirehthe LORD our provider (Genesis 22:14)
Jehovah-Raphathe LORD our healer (Exodus 15:26)
Jehovah-Nissithe LORD our banner (Exodus 17:15)
Jehovah-Shalomthe LORD our peace (Judges 6:24)
Jehovah-Sabaoththe LORD of hosts (Psalm 46:7)
Jehovah-Raahthe LORD our shepherd (Psalm 23:1)
Jehovah-Tsid-Kenuthe LORD our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
Jehovah-Shammahthe LORD is there (omnipresent) (Ezekiel 48:35)

While these have manifestations in the temporal world, they really are more about the spiritual relationship of God toward His people.


Also often used in the Bible:
Yahweh (Jehovah, the LORD capitalized in many Bibles)God is eternal, unchangeable, in covenant relationship
ElohimGod, strong/mighty one
Adonaithe Lord, master

Fast forward until late last year. If you've been following our blog, you'll have seen I've written some hymns or lullabies that were based on little tunes I came up with about our animals, which you can read about here under our blog's music label.

One I've had for a while is for our dogs Brodey and Nessa, and the words went like this:

Brodey so-squody, he is not a grody toady

and

Nessa bo-bessa, walla walla professah Nessa

(I often call Brodey "Brodey so-squodey" and Nessa "Nessa bo-bessa" :) )

Those covered the first two measures, but with some tweaks to the 2-measure melody, I eventually filled out the whole tune into a song. I "sang" it for Sue and she thought it would make a good song in the round. Hmmm.....

I struggled to come up with lyrics. But one day, I was thinking about the names of God I had learned, and since there were eight of them, which goes into music evenly, I wondered if I might make that fit into the song -- the Jehovah names of God and their meanings, and with that, it would be easier for others to learn them. It might just work...

And so, I started trying to work it out, and God granted I was able to indeed work the lyrics into the tune with some tweaking of the music -- Jehovah is His Name! And it worked nicely in the round too!

Here is the sheet music:

Jehovah is His Name


And a PDF:
Jehovah is His Name (PDF)

And an instrumental audio version:
Jehovah is His Name (MP3)

Here, Sue and I sing it with the accompaniment:
Jehovah is His Name - Vocal (MP3)

And here we are acapella, in a four-part round starting every two measures:
Jehovah is His Name - 4 Part Round (MP3)


I think it worked out fairly nicely, and thanks to the Lord for granting this to be able to learn His names and acknowledge His greatness, mightiness, love and care!

In trying to find the original website that had the eight names I learned, I have since discovered there are many other names of God in the Bible (again, I cannot vouch for the site's content), but it was nice to be able to take these I had learned and put them into something perhaps usable for God to glorify Himself maybe in some way. :)

May His name be praised forever; blessed be the name of the LORD!

-- David

Friday, January 5, 2018

Garden - Fall & Winter 2017-2018

We thought we would catch you up on how the garden ended up in Fall of last year, including our foray into the adventure of sweet potato growing, and where we are today!

Here are the final days of the 2017 garden before the freezes started to hit...

This is the one plant, a broccoli, that grew from the first Spring planting. I have picked off a few broccoli heads and have eaten them as I've walked by :) :

Broccoli Plant


Here is our gogi berry plant:

Gogi Berry


And these are our blackberry plants:

Blackberry Plants


Here are the okra plants third week in October:

Okra


But then the freeze was coming, and so we covered them. They looked a little creepy like this actually... :)

Okra Covered with Blankets


And sadly, they still didn't fare well, and so that was about the end of them for the year:

Okra After Freeze


But before that, we thought we would try to save some okra seeds this year to plant next year as part of our continued effort to get sustaining here. We pray God might grant this to work!

Saving Okra Seeds


Sweet Potatoes

I mentioned in our last real garden update that we planted sweet potato slips this year. This is our second attempt, with the first one in our raised beds only yielding a few small ones.

Sweet Potatoes Plants

Again of Sweet Potatoes Plants


This year however, and I think it has a lot to do with that we're using the forest bed mulching technique we've discussed before, God graciously granted some quite nice ones!

We harvested the beginning of October. The first one I pulled out was half rotted, very mushy, and I was worried they all would be like that, but most were thankfully just fine! You're supposed to be very careful pulling them out so as to not damage the tender skin, which hardens later.

Harvesting a Sweet Potato


Here's a stack of them:

Stack of Sweet Potatoes


And Sue with an American football-sized one:

More of Sweet Potatoes


And this is just to give a size perspective:

Sizing Sweet Potatoes


Here they are in the wheelbarrow being taken to the house for curing. Using the information from a website about curing sweet potatoes, we let them open-air cure just on the ground in a couple places in the house for probably about three weeks:

Sweet Potatoes in Wheel Barrow


And then wrapped them up individually in newspaper to go into the root cellar for another six weeks. Apparently the longer you can wait to harvest, even just after the first light frost, and giving them that long to cure allows the sugars to form in them, which gives them a good taste, and without which they apparently taste very bland:

Wrapped Sweet Potatoes


And finally, last week, we started pulling them out of the root cellar, and they appear to be still ok....yea, and thank the Lord!

Here, Sue is putting them into a meal:

Cutting Sweet Potatoes


And into the pan (although there is one store-bought mixed in). But, they do indeed taste great, and again we are very thankful to God for these provisions off of the land!

Cut Sweet Potatoes


Garlic

Since we have larger garden areas with which to be able to plant both for Winter and Spring, we are attempting garlic again this year, planting cloves the Stongers graciously gave us. This is just this week after the big freeze we went through here:

Garlic


And the wild lettuce, which I believe is the prickly lettuce I mentioned before, is coming back too!

Prickly Lettuce


As always and again, we are very thankful to the Lord for His providence in granting sustenance from the gardens! We pray He might continue to, as He will, and that He guide us into more and better ways to live off of the land in direct dependence on Him!

-- David

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: Trina's 2017 Turkey Chicks

Trying to learn from my mistake of how we handled turkey moms wanting to sit out in the woods by just trying to put them in the barn at night but them going right back to their nests the next day, and us loosing one of our sitting hen turkeys earlier in the year because of that, this time when Trina our original turkey started sitting, we grabbed her and put her and her eggs in the summer kitchen.

Well, thanks to the Lord, that worked out much better! With those eggs and some new ones she laid, and hoping at least some of the eggs were fertilized, she indeed hatched out two new chicks!

Here are a couple of pictures of the turklets a couple of weeks old:

New Turkey Chicks 2017

Again, New Turkey Chicks 2017


They don't always get very far, not even to two weeks sometimes, as we've had them die young in the past, but I also think some of that was due to me getting too close to the mama and causing her to panic and them maybe getting stepped on. And so, I tried not to do that as much, or much more slowly, and by God's graces, the chicks are still going! Here they are just the other day:

New Turkey Chicks Getting Older

Again, New Turkey Chicks Getting Older


And here is the video of their life adventure so far. The introduction of them to the flock didn't go so well, and Trina was picked on a lot, but eventually she apparently got tired of it and went on the offensive, and that helped back off everyone:




Also, the young turkey in the last turkey chick blog post mentioned above, which we called Halia, ended up being a tom. Ha! And so, we're going to call him Halio now. :) It seemed to really take him a long time before showing male characteristics -- only recently have we discovered this.

He is on the left in this picture:

Tom Turkeys December 2017


And here is one of all of the flock minus Trina and her little ones:

Turkey Flock December 2017


Once again, we are very grateful to the Lord for these provisions, and the continued health and safety! We pray they go to uses that glorifies Him and benefits His Church!

-- David