Sunday, April 27, 2008

Workin' the Fields


Well, with the open fields we had, and the size of them, in our typical city (industrial) mindset, I decided we must need a tractor: something to pull implements to plow, till, plant, trim, etc. the fields. We found a 94 horse power diesel tractor in the "Thrifty Nickel" (the local classified ads publication) for a pretty good price. We went to look at it and met the owner, who was a gentleman farmer in his 80s, still a foreman on the jobs he ran. We found out that he was liquidating his farm basically, and so he not only had his tractor for sale but also a 250-300 gallon diesel tank with a 12V pump. So we bargained, and we were able to purchase the tractor and the diesel tank, which incidentally was probably 2/3 full of diesel.

The tractor is a Farmall (International Harvester) 806, probably made some 50-60 years ago, and still running great.

My mother-in-law had previously bought me a couple of sweat shirts that fit somewhat into our new lifestyle, one a John Deere, the other, it just so happens, was a Farmall:




And here is our own "gas" station:




We've since been able to get a tandem disk plow and grain drill, and so we are grateful to the Lord to be able to work our fields.





One day we hope, Lord willing, to be able to pull field-working implements with animals we have raised and trained; or if there are other "old path" ways to work the soil, we hope to implement them.


Oh, and Sue wanted me to include this picture:




-- David


Friday, April 25, 2008

The Orchard


That first Spring we also began planting fruit trees: 3 apricot, 3 plum, 3 peach and 3 nectarine. Sadly though, the cows (to be mentioned in a future post, Lord willing) got to them and ate them back, and so they were set back probably a whole season.

Last year we planted 3 more apricot, 3 pear, 3 more peach and 3 apple. 2 pear and 2 peach didn't make it into this season, and so they were replaced with another plum, another pear, and 2 more apple trees. And another pear and 2 persimmon trees were planted just the other day. We plan to add 5 grape vines and 3 pecan trees this year as well.

One thing we didn't know about but have since learned is that some of these fruit trees require another species of the fruit tree or a special one to be pollinated themselves, or they won't be pollinated. Apparently a Yellow Delicious apple tree is a "pollinator."

Here what the orchard looks like now:




And here are some beginnings of fruit graciously granted by the Lord so far this year (2008)!




-- David

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Our First Garden

Well, it was Spring time shortly after we moved here, and it was time to plant a garden, which neither of us had done before. We fenced off an area, tilled and manured it, and raked it into rows. I can't remember all we planted, but nothing really grew other than just a few things. In looking back, some things that hindered it was the huge drought we had that year (3 1/2 months of nearly 100 degree temps), and when I did the rows they were rounded at the top so a lot of the water just ran off.

Here are a couple of pictures:






Here I buried mesquite tree branches under the perimeter of the fence to add a barrier against critters that might try to dig under the fencing. I'm not sure it was worth the effort, but I did notice a dig hole at one point, and the varmint almost certainly wasn't going to get around that extra distance:




Although nothing really happened as a result, the process of planting and watering reminded us of the many examples of sowing seed in the Bible, including that God is the initiator of life in the garden as He is the initiator of life in one's soul. And we were thankful for being able to live out those examples.

We tried a Fall garden later that year, but as soon as things started to sprout, grasshoppers ate them down to nothing, and so that didn't work either.

We pray we learned from those things and that God would grow our faith and eventually grant provisioning from our future gardens, according to His will.

-- David

Friday, April 18, 2008

Chickens


Before we even left California but with the intent to come here, the Bunker's graciously bought some chickens and raised them for us in preparation for us having some once we moved here. Farm fresh chickens make farm fresh eggs, and in the opinion of most people who have tried the difference between them and store bought ones, farm fresh eggs are MUCH better, in taste and in health (because we know what they're eating!).

And so, with our chickens here on the land but being tended by the Bunkers, we needed a place for them. I had a subscription to Countryside magazine at the time, and in one of the issues is plans for what's called a "chicken tractor," which essentially is a movable chicken coup, which conveniently includes fertilization of the area on which the coup is sitting at any one time. It had explicit instructions (which with my zero years of construction experience was drawn to :) ), and so I proceeded to try to put one together.

Here are some pictures:






Hey, I had to make sure it worked!!




Here's a final version picture:




While the idea of fertilizing an area with this chicken tractor is nice, it hasn't been too practical for us, in that, 1) the area is a little small for the 20-25 chickens we have; and 2) we let the chickens free-range as much as possible (which we believe is better for them and takes less feed too), and so their fertilization ends up everywhere they go (and I mean everywhere!). Still though, the chicken tractor has been a nice chicken coup; and we can move it to anywhere we might need to as our homestead grows.


Over the last two Springs, the Lord has granted that some of our hens get "broody", which means they want to sit on eggs to hatch them out. Our first year we had 5 chicks hatch; 3 made it to adult chicken status, and only 1 hen remains. From last year, all 3 hatched are still alive, thankfully to God for His mercies and provisions.

With having a broody hen and eggs to sit on with the possibility of new chicks, we needed a place in which to separate them out away from the other chickens. And so, I put together a mini-tractor for them:





Chicks!




Takin' a ride on the Mama Hen Express!




Also, once they outgrew that area and became pullet size, we needed another area; and so, we put up this pen area with its own coup:





Now, beside eating chickens as food (which with ours we haven't done yet), as I mentioned, chickens lay eggs.

Here is our first egg!




And here's our first meal with our first eggs:




What has been interesting to watch is some of their behaviors. Every night the chickens, like clockwork, "come home to roost", literally. Regardless of where they traveled during the day, they end up coming back to their "home", whether that's a chicken tractor or a chicken pen.

In moving the young chickens to a pen area, they and the older chickens can get a little more used to each other, with the idea that eventually the young ones will be merged in with the main flock. Getting them used to each other is somewhat important, in that, chickens are apparently pretty territorial, and "new" chickens to their area typically need to be shown whose turf they are on; and so, there is often fighting among the hens, and if you have an alpha male rooster with a younger rooster being introduced.

Now, what we've done in the merger is take the new chickens from their coup in the pen area and put them in the main chicken tractor at night to let them come down from it in the morning. This helps to old flock get used to them when they're more calm, and helps to new ones get used to their new "home." We leave the pen area open so they can go to it for familiarity. This can go on for several days, but eventually the new chickens start to get the idea that their new "home" is in the chicken tractor; and they head there, instead of the pen, when it's time to roost.


Another behavior that I've found interesting is the following: if you throw feed on the ground in one place, and they run to it there, and then you throw feed down in another place, almost invariably they run to the last place you threw feed, even though they had perfectly good feed right where they were: they seem to need the "next thing." It reminds me of a couple of articles Michael wrote regarding how people often do things because they are attracted to the "change" aspect of the thing, for various reasons and in actuality not be led by the proper motivations. Here are links to those articles: Change, Part 1 and Change, Part 2


God has been gracious with the provisions of the eggs during our time here so far. We are very grateful for what He teaches us daily through His creation and how He provides for us daily in accordance with His will.

-- David

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Storing Rain

After our previous attempts at drilling a well with no success, having water on the land became a focus of primary importance. We had been buying water from purifying stations, but that obviously wasn't a long-term solution.

If you ask the typical person today where they get their water, they'd say the tap. I'd bet though most of those people never really consider from where THAT water comes. Well, when you have no water on your land, and you need some (because generally a person does ;) ), you need to consider ways to have it available.

On land that is not hooked up to a paid water supply, there are typically 3 ways of getting water: ground (well), surface (ponds, streams, etc.) and rain (it is also possible to get water out of the moisture in the air, but the amount of water from that is quite a bit less from some of these other ways, and often times require electricity). Many country folk might typically think of well water or pond (tank, in Texas-talk) water as sources for themselves and animals, but many don't consider "rain harvesting" as an option. What they probably forget is that possibly their well and surely their tank are filled from the results of rain falling, and the land area that feeds their well or tank is basically a large catch-water system with the water table or tank being the storage facility.

We decided that eventually, Lord willing, we would like to have all 3 sources of water, mostly because of the importance of water. And so, the first water supply on which we concentrated was putting up a catch-water system.

In concept, it's actually very simple. You need a flat surface to "catch" the rain water, and then some way of diverting it into a storage unit. Since we had no buildings available with roof lines and weren't at the point of being ready to build something with one yet, we decided to just put up a very simple shed roof that would feed an above-ground water container, which we chose to be a black (to keep the sun out so algae and the like won't grow easily thus avoiding chemical treatments) 2500 gallon polypropylene tank (which apparently holds up well against the sun's deteriorating rays).

Here are some pictures of our shed roof catch-water system:





On these notice the down spout. When rain hasn't fallen for any length of time, dirt and other potential contaminants collect on the roof. When it begins to rain, those contaminants are carried along with the first amounts of water coming off of the roof. And so, this down spout is called a "first-flush diverter", and it is for catching that first amount of water. There is a racket ball in the tube which, as the tube fills with water, floats up and then wedges against the reducer at the top, thus stopping any more water from going into the tube. From then on, the water coming off of the roof bypasses the down spout heading for the black tank.







At first we had a nozzle on the output end of the tank that was a typical external water faucet, but it only allowed a small amount of flow coming through it; and so we installed a 3/4" valve that essentially lets the water straight through to the garden hose.




And there is our water, graciously and mercifully granted according to God's providence!




From there we add a 1/2 teaspoon of bleach (to kill bacteria; I read somewhere that it needs to be Clorox, but other Web sites don't indicate that: use at your own rish) to our 6-gallon water containers (the typical dose is 1/2 teaspoon for 5 gallons) for the water that is to be used in our camper's water system (for brushing our teeth, etc.), and from there we filter the water through our British Berkefeld Berkey water purifier for drinking. The bleach treatment is probably not needed, especially since we have a Berkey and everything could be filtered through it first. Still though, the Clorox method can be used to purify water if another filtration system is not available. Of course there are other ways to purify water, like boiling, or making your own activated charcoal filter, etc. that would be considered more long-term solutions (ones that don't require perpetual maintenance).

The Lord has continued to be very gracious with our catch-water. Since it was installed and began to be filled, it has never been empty.


One thing we have learned, and is the type of thing we had hoped to learn moving out here, is a greater appreciation for God's providence. In this case, every time we go to fill up containers out of our catch-water, we try to say a "Thank you" to the Lord for allowing us that provision of the water.

And sometimes, and we try to learn to do this more, we try to focus on the spiritual aspect of the type (or shadow) that many (if not all) of the temporal things around us point to. While we need water temporily to survive or we'll die, the Lord Jesus says He gives water that gives everlasting life (John 4:13-14), and ONLY He can give it (John 14:6), and He does so according to His will (John 1:11-13; Eph 1:5,11), and if He doesn't we will remain spiritually dead (Eph 2:5).

We are grateful to the Lord for His spiritual provisions of Himself and His giving of spiritual life to sinners (those He has come to save: 1 Tim 1:15), and we thank Him for His temporal provisions of the harvested rain water and the means of storage He has graciously allowed us.

-- David

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Storing Light

Coming from the city and being used to being able to flip on a light switch and have light appear, and having those things in our camper, we wanted to have electricity available; however, the plan for the land was to never be hooked up to the power grid. Also, at the time, we wanted to be more "agrarian" with things like utilities, and so solar and/or wind seemed promising. Michael found a fellow online who makes portable solar trailers, and so we decided to go that route and purchase one. Here is a picture of ours on the right:


The following might not make a lot of sense to some or most people reading it, and when we got the solar trailers this information didn't mean much to us either, but I'll explain the setup briefly: Each panel I believe is 110 watts; and there are 10 battery banks, each bank with 2 6 volt golf cart batteries hooked together in parallel, and each pair run in series to create a 12 volt system, which is the same voltage as our camper's and is typical of many direct current systems. There is also a charge controller to only allow a maximum of 14 volts into the system via solar so as to not overcharge the system. Lastly, attached to the system are 2 3000 watt continuous inverters, which turn the 12 volt direct current into 110 volt alternating current (AC) (which is what comes out of a normal wall plug). And voila! Electricity!

The setup works pretty well when it's sunny and we're not running a freezer, but needs external charging when it's not sunny or the freezer is being used. This we do with a generator and a battery charger, which can input 60 or more amps into the system when charging (which our battery bank can indeed handle).

We also tried our hand at adding a small wind generator, but it ended up not working very well as it really needed a pretty strong and constant wind to put out any real amount of current.

Now, having electricity is fine and dandy, but in the end this really isn't a long-term solution, nor does it fit into how we see ourselves living in the future. First, parts will perpetually need to be replaced; and second, we desire the old paths, which includes getting away from things like electricity and doing things in a more truly agrarian way. Light could be daylight, or candle (made from animal fat or bees wax) light; freezing meat could be replaced by cold smoking, or drying; etc. These things we hope to implement and are what we are working toward as we progress here in building our homestead, with God's help and provisions.

For further insight and discussion into off-grid living, including this area of electricity and food, please see Michael's "Off-Grid Living Series" located at his Center for Agrarian Homesteading Education site.

-- David

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Texas Or Bust!

Well, after wrapping up at our corporate jobs and packing up all of our stuff with the help of our families back in California, the sojourn began. The date was Sept. 20, 2005. David was driving the moving van, and Susan was following in our Tercel with our pet fishes in the front seat and our pet rabbits in the back seat. We made it to the edge of the California border by the first day, into New Mexico by the second, and into Texas by the third. We decided to stop about 4 hours or so out from our land (as we had driven 8 or so hours already; plus we thought it would be better to arrive in the morning when Michael and the guys could help us unload), and then on into Brownwood where our storage facility was located. The guys helped us unload there, our unloading continued at a storage container on the land, and we spent the first night on the 23rd on the land.

The drive was an interesting experience for both of us in different ways. We had walkie-talkies and head sets with which we communicated the whole way, so that was nice.

From David: My driving of the moving van put me up in the air where the truckers are, and so I got "Keep on Truckin" signs from some as I or they drove by. I also learned some trucker etiquette: after passing a truck and if they flash their headlights, that means you are clear of their front end (because right side mirrors show objects farther than they actually are); however, I didn't learn about that until later, and so I wondered why they were flashing their lights at me -- I thought maybe I might be doing something wrong! :) Also, I noticed as I drove how the big trucks (of which I was one on this trip) sort of have an ebb and flow about them as they are driving, allowing those on the on-ramps to merge nicely without having to slow down, and them maneuvering their trucks in and out of traffic like a ballet. It was quite an experience.

From Susan: It was a very surreal yet exciting feeling pulling out of the driveway that first morning. A real sense of one book, not chapter, being closed and another being opened. With everything we had been learning and the changes God was making in our worldview, I realized life as we knew it was not an option anymore. But there was a real peace that came along with that as well because I had learned as long as you are living your life in obedience to God, He will handle the rest, and He is in control, no matter what happens. With the headset walkie-talkies and pets (our fishes, Barry and Sushi and our rabbits, Buttercup and Derby) with me in our little Toyota, I didn't feel alone at all. ;) My mission was to just follow the big yellow moving truck, and I am thankful there wasn't a decoy that distracted me where I would end up in North Dakota or something, although I did have to really focus on keeping up with Dave a few times. He got in a real groove moving in and out of the big trucks, and I would sometimes lose sight of him. He was up there at the same height with all the truckers, and I felt like this ant in a land of giants. It was quite intimidating at times, but I learned "the highway ballet" fairly quickly and discovered the truckers were very nice and looking out for us, for the most part. God protected us the entire time, and we didn't have any car or health problems whatsoever, for which we were very thankful. When we passed the "You Are Now Entering Texas" sign I gulped but knew this was where God wanted us. By the way, I can now verify and have seen first hand that the stars at night are not only big, but they ARE bright deep in the heart of Texas. :)

And so, there was no looking back! We had arrived at our new home in Texas!

-- David & Susan

Shelter

Now that we had the land, we started to consider the fact that we had no place in which to live once we got there. Dave began a series of trips to go and prepare the land for our permanent arrival.

He flew to Texas the first time to search for a good farm truck to have as transportation and to be able to haul anything we might need, including where we were planning on living (see below). (His convertible just didn't seem very practical for this new lifestyle -- we tried to make it work in our minds by envisioning the top down on his convertible and cows in the back seat with the warm summer breeze blowing through their horns, but then we realized the "cleanup" would just be too much. So he had decided to sell his car in California and leave it behind when we moved and that a farm truck towing a cattle trailer behind it might be a better idea.) After much searching by Dave and Michael, they couldn't find the right truck. Dave's time was almost up there (he needed to catch his flight back), and on the return drive of the last time they would be able to look, the Lord granted they run across a nice, sturdy Red Ford F250 diesel truck at the right price. And right there on the car lot another redneck was born - YeeeeeeHawwwww!! (That's Michael to the left side of the truck.)



After much thought, we had also decided it would be better to concentrate on getting our homestead up and running; and a house then, should the Lord ever allow us to build one, would be lower priority. So we decided a camper would probably be our best option since we knew we may end up living in it for several years, and it would provide immediate shelter upon our arrival. So Dave took his second trip to Texas, and he became the best friend of most every trailer salesman in the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area looking at all kinds of travel and fifth wheel trailers. He finally narrowed it down to one within our budget that he knew I (Susan) would be able to call home. He did a great job (and almost three years later now it continues to function beautifully and be a wonderful and warm shelter). We were living in a little cottage in California before we moved, so this was very comfortable and spacious to us. It's like a little apartment. What a huge blessing. Here are a few pictures - welcome to our home!!











Dave's third and final preparatory trip was to try to drill a well on the land with a home driller we were able to get. After three weeks of working at it, the guys were still not able to get a working well; and so they decided to stop and look at other possible water sources instead (which we plan to discuss in a future blog post, Lord willing); and Dave headed back to California.

Dave said during the times he was gone (which were the longest we had been apart since we had been married) that he sort of felt like a bridegroom going to prepare a place for his bride, as the Lord Jesus mentioned in John 14:2-3.

Finally, we have learned that we are told in the Bible to be content with food and raiment (1 Tim 6:8), and even the Lord Jesus had no place to lay his head (Matt 8:20) as He was probably the epitome of a sojourner on this earth. And so, we just wanted to say that we are very thankful for the Lord's provisions of the truck and shelter that He has allowed us.

-- Susan

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Little Piece of Earth


After we made the decision to move to Texas in late 2004, David flew out a couple of times prior to moving to help search for land. We originally were looking for land near Lubbock. After putting in a bid on land there, the Lord closed that door and we believe began to lead Michael in his continued search for land to what's called West Central Texas. It is in an area remote enough to be truly out in the country but close enough to towns to get supplies as we build our homesteads. Also, it is far away enough from big cities to be far from them, and close enough to them should the need arise to visit them. We placed another bid on a piece of land there; but that door closed as well. The Lord apparently had other plans, and we believe He graciously led Michael to another lot of land for sale, which was beautiful and prosperous looking. It had 3 large fields, large wooded areas that included many oak trees, several creek beds running through it, and 3 tanks (that's Texas-talk for "ponds"). It seemed this was the place for us; so we placed the bid, and this time it was accepted! This was around April, 2005.


Here are a few more pictures of the land before we moved onto it, wild and untamed:







Thus began our adventure in the middle of Texas! We are thankful to the Lord for His provision of this land.



-- David & Susan


Sunday, April 6, 2008

In a Nutshell

A few months ago I was asked by a cousin I haven't seen for probably 30 or so years, who had indirectly received our update emails, the following: "Wow! It seems like a huge undertaking that you are doing. What brought you to that decision? We heard that you live off the land and are kind of getting back to how life used to be. We would be interested in hearing all about it."

"Wow!" back atcha! Explaining some 5 years of doctrinal, belief and worldview changes to someone unfamiliar with the whole process we had been through I thought was something of tall order. However, I tried; and so I post it here, in the hopes someone might benefit from this brief synopsis, which was my reply:

As far as what has brought us to come live this life, that's something that happened over some time with changes to our doctrinal beliefs and worldview. For people who ask us this kind of question, or even when we've tried to explain things to family or friends as we've gone along, because they haven't gone through the same studies, it makes it difficult for them to understand why we are doing what we are. But I'll give it a shot. And so, several years ago the Lord led us to an understanding and belief in what are typically called the doctrines of grace, which talk much about God's sovereignty, including over salvation itself (sometimes people call it Calvinism). This is in contrast to what we were brought up believing, which is the more commonly held belief of free-will salvation (also referred to as Arminianism). We came to believe these doctrines of grace to be true, and believing them led to us leaving our current church at the time as it didn't hold to those beliefs. Through the process of learning about these doctrines, we came in contact with folks who believed them down in Texas. Over time we got to know those people generally over the Internet, and then through visits to Texas. Further over time, one of the beliefs we came to understand is the Bible's call for Christians to separate themselves from the world and ungodliness unto Christ in Christian community. Through much study over yet more time, we began to believe that God's prescribed way of living as described in His word (in how His people lived in the past and in most forms of teaching throughout the Bible, including the Lord Jesus' parables) is an agrarian lifestyle. And so, as the world and its systems of functioning (which include dependence on it for all of our necessities, including food [grocery stores], clothing [department stores], electricity and water provided by the government, etc.) began to appear more ungodly to us, and since we believed in separating from worldliness as much as possible, and since we believed the Bible teaches man was to till the soil and work with his hands (in command and by examples throughout the Bible), and since we believed we should live in Christian community with like-minded believers, we left our corporate jobs to buy land here in Texas in fellowship and community with those like-minded folks we had gotten to know, so as to start farming the land and raising animals for food. Since our moving down here a little over 2 years ago, the Lord has seen fit to grow our community by adding several other families. We're not a commune, in that, each family owns their own land and stuff; we're more of a neighborhood than anything else; and we fellowship together more of as a home church, with singing, meals, teachings and just living our lives together as family.

For us the doctrine stuff started at a site called LazarusUnbound.com. The main site now though is BiblicalAgrarianism.com, which includes our current statement of faith at http://www.biblicalagrarianism.com/modules.php?name=Content_Theology&pa=showpage&pid=41 (although I think it needs to be updated a little).


And so, there you have it, in a nutshell.

-- David

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Anti-World Worldview

Hello again!

Hopefully and prayerfully you have perhaps spent some time reading and prayerfully considering some of the things mentioned in our previous post and some of the information located at our old Web page (By God's Sovereign Grace and Mercy). Not that there is much ado about it, but we do however pray the Lord grant you whatever light He may from it.

At this point I must interject that much of our beginning doctrinal changes (mentioned in the previous post) began at reading the articles of Michael Bunker. Over time, the Lord apparently led him in his teachings to consider more than just what we say we believe: that our lives as Christians involve ALL of our lives. For Michael, this led him to start to publish his "Underground Church" series, which is located here.

Sue and I listened, studied and prayed about the things he brought forth, which in short, partially, is that as Christians we are required to separate from the world, because the following verse really does apply: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 Jn 2:15). Not only from this verse but others in the Bible (such as 2 Cor 6:14 - "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?") are very clear about separating from the world. But what is the world then? Here, it is anything that in essence isn't Christ. It became apparent, by God's graces and mercies, that the ungodly world (as described in 1 Jn 2:15) was all around us and a part of every aspect of our lives, from the world that is in charge of bringing water to our house to the world that we worked for to bring in our "daily bread." How could this be right? Are we not to look to God only for our provisions? Besides the commands to not be yoked to and to love not the world, what happens when the world in charge of my water supply decides to not give me any water? What happens when some person in my food chain (farmer, farm working, trucker, grocery store person, etc.) decides he's not going to do that anymore? Then what do I do? There is an obvious "chink in the armor" of our very basic well-being, for which the ungodly world is the provider.

Not only are there commands to separate and the obvious problems with the world being our provider, but the Bible specifically talks about how God set up man to live his life: He told man to dress and keep the garden before the fall (Gen 2:15); and after the fall, that didn't change other than those works would be much harder to do. The command to dress and keep the garden never went away!

Hmmmm......

Well, this led us to the following, and why we left our corporate jobs to move to Texas and hopefully and prayerfully live a life closer to God's creation:

We are called to separation:
It evidences the character of God, which is holiness (which means separate). His character IS separation. Every time the Israelites started to join with the society around them, they became more like them and abandoned God. Purity is always lost when impurity comes in; impurity is never made completely pure by adding purity.

We are commanded to this:
1 Peter 1:16 – “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy”
2 Corinthians 6:14-17 – “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.”

We are holy or separated positionally by God:
2 Timothy 1:9 – “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”
1 Peter 2:9 – “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;”
Hebrews 7:26 – “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;”

Touch not the unclean thing:
Haggai 2:11-14 – “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ask now the priests concerning the law, saying, If one bear holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and with his skirt do touch bread, or pottage, or wine, or oil, or any meat, shall it be holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean. Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.”
Proverbs 13:20 – “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”

How were the Israelites handled with Egypt? God separated them out. How was Lot handled with Sodom? God separated them out. These are pictures of God separating FROM AMONGST THE HEATHEN His chosen people.

Do not join with other false beliefs to accomplish some sort of mission, and in fact, stay away from them:
Romans 16:17 – “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
1 Timothy 6:3-5 – “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
2 John 1:9-11 – “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

Even from the brethren in error:
2 Thessalonians 3:6 – “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”

From the world and false brethren:
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 – “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.”


To what do we go then?
God instituted work in the garden, which was to tend it. After the fall, work was going to be harder. Cities were formed 1) as monuments to man and 2) as a way to skirt the curse (to make work easier). Also, the Bible is replete with examples and parables that are agrarian; living an agrarian lifestyle would make it easier for any children with which we might be blessed to understand the Bible. Plus, an agrarian lifestyle is solely dependent on the providence of God – we plant and water, and He grows it according to His will. This is a picture of our spiritual evangelism, in that, we plant and water, and God grows. As a lesson for any children, they will be LIVING the physical picture of the spiritual lessons taught in the Bible. Further, our work glories in the miracles of life that are demonstrated in God growing things out of the land.


Further thoughts on why we moved:
We are trying to separate from and become less and less dependent on a corrupt and ungodly system.

The work we do in our corporate jobs profits nothing from an eternal or spiritual aspect.

Living in the world environment places us dependent on ungodly entities and people for our livelihood. The food chain is also very long; at any time if one link along the path were to break or be broken, we could be potentially unable to eat.

We want to live in a place that still supports family freedoms to build our lives, rear and educate our children ourselves, and support our families the Bible would have us do so.

We reject the ungodly culture of the day seeking a proper Biblical culture. We don’t syncretize with the culture to change it; our evangelism occurs when we stand against the culture (by not participating in it) and biblically show it for what it is. Now, we still interact with the world in some ways because we are still in the world (on earth and not in heaven); but generally our lives involve being separate and different.

We wish to live in a community of other like-minded believers, which is very, very important. True believers are family, even surpassing the temporal families the Lord has granted us (Matt 10:34-37; Matt 12:48-50) . Christians are meant to be together, functioning locally as the body of Christ, loving each other as God has commanded (1 John 3:14). It's very difficult to live a life of love for the brethren when your life doesn't really involve them (much how like trying to love God without prayer, Bible reading, etc. doesn't work); and, although I suppose it is possible, but it seems to me that being involved in church gatherings and Sundays and other days is not really being involved with them very much.


And so, this is how and why our worldview has become what it has: basically we want a worldview that not only doesn't include the world's ungodliness as much as possible, but is one in which the sole focus is on God and His eternal, spiritual and temporal providences.

-- David

Friday, April 4, 2008

Things Turned Rightside Up

Although this will be much a condensed version, we'll start where things really began to turn for us in our lives. It was August, 2002. Sue and I had been in a serious relationship for nearly a year. We held the typical doctrines that most "Christian" churches hold now, and we attended a church that strived to be "relevant" for today. Generally our doctrines were based on the idea that people needed to be convinced by attraction that they need Jesus. Much of our efforts at the church we attended were based upon that premise: being "sensitive" to "seekers", being enticing (with modern music, dress, etc.) to people to convince them Jesus loved them, etc. Sue was involved with the "worship team" (which is really just the music team, because worship is much more than just music); and I was involved with a new and ungrounded-Christian class that supposedly set those folks on the proper beginning path. Again, both of these "ministries" were founded upon the originally mentioned premise: working to convince people they needed Jesus, that essentially Christians generally aren't offensive, and that Jesus loves them exactly as they are.

The Lord, by His graces and mercies, began to show us the Bible spoke of things differently, and He began to show us some things about the basic tenets and doctrines of Christianity that were different than the doctrines we held at the time. The Lord led us to articles that pointed out some things the Bible says that we hadn't really been taught before: that people are actually evil by nature and from birth; that there is a group of people called the elect, chosen by God to be His people according to His will only; that Christ only died for (paid for the sins of ) people He actually saved (ie. those that go to heaven); that our wills are actually moved by His Spirit toward Him, and without Him doing that, we would still just naturally be and continue to be His enemy; and other doctrines.

Wow! What? We had heard some on election before, but not much, and not these other things, and not these things in churches we had attended all of our lives. Needless to say, it became personally difficult. Were these things actually true?

After study and these things spinning in our heads for several weeks, by God's graces and as revealed in the Bible, we began to understand these things to be true. Given that, our entire Christian belief systems were flipped around: instead of turned upside down, I like to say they were turned rightside up. From there the Lord granted that we might continue to grow in these understandings, and He has graciously continued to teach from His written word.

There is so much more behind this in the details, but I'll try to summarize: we hold to the orthodox Christian tenets of what are commonly called the doctrines of grace; that God is sovereign over everything, including salvation. Many people call this "Calvinism", but I believe many do this so they can categorize it (pigeon-hole it) and then much more easily marginalize it. However, these teachings are indeed in the Bible.

If you've never heard of these ideas before, or you have but still don't believe they are in the Bible, here is a document of scriptures which we prayerfully hope you will prayerfully consider: Election, Atonement, and Other Interesting Verse Sets.

So, this is basically where it started for us. We have since studied many, many things, including several interesting items which have been noted at our previous Web page By God's Sovereign Grace and Mercy. Although not brief, this page of ours encapsulates much of what we believe the Lord has graciously and mercifully taught us over the last several years, doctrinally and regarding our view of the world.

Beyond the doctrine, it is that element, our worldview, that we believe He has graciously continued to reform, causing us to decide to live our lives quite differently than what is common today. I will hopefully and Lord willing get into that in one or more of the next posts.

-- David

Welcome!

Welcome to our blog! I (David) have really lagged at getting us doing anything in the form of a blog, I guess mostly because I'm not sure why we should. Maybe I'm just lazy; maybe there's pride there. Probably both, at a minimum. At any rate, here we go. You'll have to bear with us as we try to catch this up to where we are currently, because there have been around 5 1/2 years of sojourning that the Lord has graciously and mercifully allowed us, and to jump right to where we are now would only give part of the story. So, as the desciption says, we pray the Lord might edify whom He would by this, but ultimately that He glorifies Himself through it.

-- David & Susan