Thursday, January 28, 2010

David's Digest: The Truth, or Not the Truth: That is the Question

It is of the utmost importance for us as Christians to have the truth as given to us by God's Word. We can not lay hold of Christ nor worship God properly if we don't know who we are, who He is, and what He in the personages of the Trinity has done.

If we are to have any hope of having truth, then something in and of itself must declare it, wholly; and if salvation is indeed to be had, and if we are to know how to love and worship God properly, then those must be revealed as well. Thankfully, according to His graces, God has provided us with His truth in His Word, the Bible, which in and of itself contains the whole truth necessary as God would have for us. It then, and it alone, must be our measuring stick, otherwise truth becomes relative, which then cannot be trusted as truth.

By its very nature, truth is absolute: a truth can only be truly one thing at one time. If a thing is entirely the color green, it cannot also be the color blue. There is no such thing as "my truth" or "your truth"; there is only THE truth.

Also by nature, the truth divides, showing what is true and what is not true. Not having the truth is having a lie. Jesus Christ, being the truth Himself (John 14:6), was a divider: Matt 10:34-35 - "Think not that I come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

The Bible says that the Lord Jesus is the Word (John 1:1) and, as noted, the truth. It follows then that, if we do not have the truth as described in the Word of God (ie. we have a lie), then we do not truly have Christ. Therefore, it behooves us to make absolutely sure that we have the truth as it is brought forth in Scripture.

Paul says in 2 Cor 13:5, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith..." Being in the faith does not just mean having faith versus not having faith. It also refers to which faith we have: whether our faith is an alive faith versus a dead faith (Jam 2:17,20,26), whether we believe in another Jesus versus the true Jesus Christ (2 Cor 11:4), or whether the Gospel to which we hold is the true Gospel or not (Gal 1:6). And so to discover whether we are in the faith or not, against what can we examine ourselves? It must be against something that shows the truth of our beliefs, so that we can know whether our faith is a true faith, our Jesus is truly Jesus Christ, and our Gospel is the true Gospel. Since God's Word contains those truths, we must examine ourselves against it.

Is the way to heaven via a false faith, false Jesus or false Gospel (ie. via a lie)? How can it possibly be? And so examining our beliefs is of great importance. We had better have THE truth, or it could be to our eternal detriment.

Further, when we examine ourselves, can we say that we have a love of the truth? The Bible declares a love of the truth is given by God: 2 Thess 2:10 says, "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." We therefore need to pray for a love of the truth, for our benefit and because of the warning that follows in 2 Thess 2:11-12: "And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

May God's graces and mercies in this regard be with us, may God grant us a love of His Truth and Word, and may He grant us the desire and ability to honestly examine ourselves in the light of His Word.

-- David

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Operation: Chicken Peritonitis - Update

This is a follow up to the first post on the procedure we did on our chicken with peritonitis.

The week following the first two weekly procedures, her abdomen was filling up again; and she was starting to waddle and stand up straight. And so I went in with the needle, and pulled nearly 70cc of fluid again. This time though the hole didn't leak anymore. I tried to extract some more with another needle insertion, but nothing came out.

She seemed not too bad after that; but over the next several days, she was still walking quite a bit upright; and on the third day after the procedure, she lost her appetite. It is my experience when chickens get like that, the end is soon. Regardless, I force-fed her some goat milk; and in the evening, she was eating some food scraps on the ground and chicken scratch from my hand, and even drinking the goat milk, all on her own. However, as I said, they're usually in a bad way when they generally stop eating; and by the next morning she was dead. The Lord was merciful in allowing it finish quickly.

I'm not sure what happened: perhaps I punctured something internally in her; perhaps I introduced bacteria or otherwise during the procedure; perhaps her immunity was low and she caught something; perhaps none of those. I tried to be as antiseptic as possible during the drainings, but perhaps something still got by. (Please also see some of the comments about using an antibiotic/silver.)

It's sometimes a little difficult when you try to care for something, and it doesn't work out the way you had hoped, or worse, you worsen the situation. Also with this chicken, I used to be able to "talk" to her by making chicken sounds; and she would respond, which was fun to hear. And it is just an animal, but it's also God's provision. Still, it was her time according to His will, and we're thankful she went quickly; for the allowing us the provision of her; and for what the Lord would teach us, spiritually as well as temporily.

Death -- eternal, spiritual and temporal -- are a result of sin, and my sin; and I try to be reminded of my sin when I'm around death. And that reminds me to plead the blood of Christ for His atonement as He is the only way of redemption from the wages of our sins.

May He continue to teach us, and we pray and are thankful for His guiding hand in our earthly pilgrimage.

-- David

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Operation: Chicken Peritonitis

Recently, one of our hens started walking upright like a waddling penguin instead of the horizontal way chickens typically walk. I thought one of our chickens might have had something like this in the past; and so in this instance, I tried to do a little research on the Internet. I discovered that there is a condition called peritonitis, which in general is a swelling of the abdomen; and in chickens, it can be caused by a yolk missing the "funnel" (called the infundibulum) that "catches" them as they move from the ovary to the oviduct. They fall into the abdomen, which causes the peritonitis, and a build up of fluid in the area. Thus, the condition is called egg yoke peritonitis; and there are two kinds: sterile, where bacteria hasn't developed in the swollen area, and the chicken still has an appetite and doesn't die quickly; and septic, which is the opposite.

Besides our chicken not having a problem eating (which basically required that we lift food up to her), I examined her abdomen; and it was much like a water balloon; and so I suspected we had our diagnosis. Here are a couple of pictures showing her condition. At this point, she had one foot back and would sit on the other foot, and all she was able to do was slowly scoot around in a circle (we kept her isolated in our mini chicken tractor, to keep her from being picked on or hurt by the other chickens, which they will do to weak ones):

Upright Chicken with Egg Yoke Peritonitis
Upright Chicken with Egg Yoke Peritonitis
Upright Chicken with Egg Yoke Peritonitis


But then, with the problem identified, what to do about it. Some of the articles I read talked about draining the abdomen with a catheter, but that seemed pretty complex and involved. I did find a video though, which shows a person draining a chicken with peritonitis using just a needle.

It so happened that some friends of ours had just given us some large syringes and needles a few days before; and so, I decided to "operate." The needle I chose to use was 1/2" long and 1/16" in outside diameter. Here is a photo summary of the procedure. I made very sure that everything, from the syringe, to the needle, to my hands, were as sterile as could be, including cleaning the syringe and wiping it with, bathing the needle in, and wiping my hands with rubbing alcohol.

Here I'm just getting her into position:

Chicken Peritonitis Fluid Draining Procedure


And then I flipped her onto her back:

Chicken Peritonitis Fluid Draining Procedure


I cut away the feathers around the area where I was planning to insert the needle:

Chicken Peritonitis Fluid Draining Procedure


And then I did so. I tried going at an angle parallel to the skin as much as possible to avoid puncturing her internal organs, but couldn't seem to pull anything out with the syringe; so I found I needed to insert the needle at a steeper angle. Once I did, the fluid extracted pretty easily; and I was glad it was clear and didn't have pus in it:

Chicken Peritonitis Fluid Draining Procedure


I pulled about 40ccs worth before stopping. One of the articles I read said to only pull half of the fluid out because the loss of too much could cause shock:

Chicken Peritonitis Fluid Draining Procedure


When we were done with the draining using the syringe, the hole continued to leak fluid; and over night, she lost quite a bit more. However, after it was all done, first, when I would pick her up, she was noticeably lighter than before; and second, she was able to bend over and eat and drink by herself somewhat, and was actually walking around. This went on for a few days, but her underbelly seemed to start to grow again. I decided to try the procedure again, and was able to pull out around 70cc. I tried going in again a couple more times, but couldn't seem to find any more fluid -- I tried keeping the needle at a flatter angle again, because there wasn't nearly as much puffiness to her abdomen as before, and I believe I might not have been getting past the fat layer as it was basically impossible to extract anything out. However, I didn't want to puncture any organs; and so I stopped; but it ended up that at least one of the needle holes continued to leak similarly to first time we drained her.

The next day she was doing much better, and was almost walking around like a normal chicken. Here is a video of her (the "other one [that] was only a still frame" that I mention refers to the fact that the "before" pictures were only still photos -- the ones shown above):

videoChicken with peritonitis walking around after draining fluid from her abdomen.


A couple of days later, I took a pair of toe nail clippers and clipped the tip of her beak as it had started to grow past what looked to be normal as compared to the other chickens. My guess was that it had grown more since she hadn't really been able to use her beak normally for some time.


I don't know what will further happen with this situation, but it was neat to see her act like a chicken again and be able to "do chicken things." It does seem that the liquid starts to collect in her abdomen again as the days go by, and perhaps we'll have to continue to try draining it. However, we are thankful the Lord granted us this opportunity to learn about and care for the chickens, and that I didn't apparently infect her myself when performing the procedure, nor poke her internal organs; and hopefully, if God is willing, she will once again become a productive member of the flock.

-- David

(Please see our chicken peritonitis update for more information.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Susan's Musin's - Gossip

This subject has been on my heart over the past year after witnessing its path of destruction personally.

To backtrack a bit, I grew up in a home where, thankfully, gossip was never very comfortable or welcome. I'm grateful to my parents for creating and maintaining that environment. I don't want to paint an incorrect picture here though. Every person is born into sin with a carnal man who loves to gossip and lower others in order to raise himself. I certainly had, and still have, those temptations; but the environment in my home did not create a dark, moist place for those seeds to grow and produce bad fruit.

Living in mainstream Christianity can be very sterile and convenient sometimes, and you are able to just walk away from someone you don't like or someone who gossips, etc. So I ended up playing "dodge ball" many times in the church and schools I attended in order to escape much of the drama that goes along with hanging out with gossipers. I inevitably was sucked close to the drain a few times while trying to help friends who had been hurt, and that was plenty. Gossip truly is like a cancer, damaging everything in its path, and left unchecked can turn into a vicious monster.

Now that I am living in Christian community, it requires an entirely different perspective. The Bible is very clear about loving your brothers and sisters in Christ. As much as you try to put your best foot forward, all of your faults and weaknesses are eventually exposed, and vice versa; and you can't just walk away from people who are this or are not that, gossipers included.

The Bible is also very clear about gossip and how God views it. And it generally comes as a package deal bringing along its invested partners: ("Good morning, law offices of Gossip, Jealousy, Pride and Envy, how may I help you?") And I believe that women are especially vulnerable to gossip, although men are certainly not immune. Again, I don't want to paint myself as some kind of "saint." I'm not. I struggle with things all the time. Thankfully, my husband really helps me to nip my gossipy thoughts and words in the bud.

As you can see below, God is VERY vocal in His Word about gossip. The more I have studied about it, the more I have been convicted and impressed of its gravity -- a very serious sin, and an indication of a sick spiritual heart condition.
Lev. 19:16: "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour; I am the LORD"

Psalm 5:9: "For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue"

Psalm 34:13: "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile"

Psalm 101:4-5: "A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person. Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer"

Provers 6:16,19: "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:...... A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren"

Proverbs 10:18: "He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool"

Proverbs 11:9: "An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered"

Proverbs 11:13: "A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter"

Proverbs 15:4: "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit"

Proverbs 16:28: "A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends"

Proverbs 17:9: "He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends"

Proverbs 18:8: "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly"

Proverbs 20:19: "He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips"

Proverbs 21:23: "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles"

Proverbs 26:20: "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth"

Proverbs 26:28: "A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin"

Matthew 12:36: "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment"

Eph. 4:29: "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers"

Eph. 4:31: "Let ALL bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice"

2 Thess. 3:11: "For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies"

1 Tim. 3:11: "Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things"

1 Tim. 5:13: "And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not"

Titus 2:3: "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things"

Titus 3:1-2: "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men"

James 4:11: "Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge"

1 Peter 2:1: "Wherefore laying aside ALL malice, and ALL guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and ALL evil speakings"

1 Peter 3:10: "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile"
These are just verses on gossip. There are also many on the fruit of the spirit, meekness, humility, and how we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, even MORE so if we do not like them.

A.W. Pink states: "Remember we cannot successfully 'pursue peace' if the heavy burden of pride be on our shoulder: pride ever stirs up strife. Nor can we 'pursue peace' if the spirit of envy fills the heart: envy is sure to see faults where they exist not, and make trouble. Nor can we 'pursue peace' if we are loose-tongued, busybodies, talebearers."

My husband and I, as most of you know, have lived in Christian community with like-minded believers for over four years now. Over those four years, it has been exciting to watch our community grow in the knowledge of God's Word, in repentance, obedience and maturity. However, there was a spirit of gossip, jealousy and pride in a few people that managed to shroud the community; and I watched it come to a head several times after it had pulled other members of the community into its web; and it had to be reprimanded back into submission, which lasted for a while until its ugly head couldn't help but show itself again and again.

I am a person who believes, in general, no matter what a situation looks like, there are always two sides; and it is best to hear both sides before coming to a conclusion. The interesting thing is that, living in such close relational proximity with the community members, I was very familiar with both sides. Finally, when jealousy and envy couldn't get their way anymore in a few members, I witnessed a monster manifest itself when, knowing both sides, it was easy to identify when lies and conjecture were injected into the mix to feed the needs of the beast. I had never witnessed such vile perversions of the truth and betrayals of confidence, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. It was truly, truly sad. What is saddest to me is that the husbands of the women involved fueled the fire and did not stop their wives from sinning in this manner but joined in with them. What a mess.

Sadly, those people chose to leave the community rather than pursue peace, grow in longsuffering and love towards the brethren and submit to godly, proper authority -- all because of gossip and its partners leaving a path of destruction behind them (and probably ahead of them). Thankfully, there is a peace in the community now that could not be found before, but not before friendships, trust, and Christian community were deeply wounded. So I would gravely challenge my sisters in Christ to truly examine and check yourself and your motives before opening your mouth. And then, STILL choose to keep your mouth shut and pray, pray, pray by yourself for the situation. God is fully capable of handling things the proper way in His time. Our duty is to pray. Nobody else needs to know about it. Ask God to grow in you proper perspective, wisdom, discernment and maturity. DON'T DO IT when you are tempted to talk about someone. -- and this includes crying on someone's shoulder about perceived mistreatment, etc. If you must speak to someone, limit it to your husband or proper spiritual authority. Meditate on the Bible and what it says about this sin, and ask God to write these truths on your heart. And if someone comes to you with inappropriate gossip, nip it in the bud. Gossiping is a horrible example of feminine Christian graces, especially to younger girls who are always watching older women and their example. I pray for God to grow each of us in maturity, and for the Holy Spirit to keep our consciences soft to recognize and stop ourselves immediately before committing this ugly sin.

Susan

("Did you hear about that lady, Susan, who wrote that blog post on gossip?........Well, who does she think she is!?.......") It's your choice.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Flurr-ye, Flurr-ye

2009 Texas Snow Flurries
It gets cold here in Texas, relative to what Sue and I were used to in California. The last couple of Winters have been mild compared to second year we were here, which included an ice storm. We've had a couple of Winters where there were extended periods (three to four days, and eight to nine days) where it remained under freezing.

Well, this Winter so far started early in November but hasn't been too drastic. We've had at least one or two nights in the teens Fahrenheit, but haven't had complete days under freezing...yet. :) However, it has snowed here a couple of times, one accompanied with quite a bit of wind, which caused some snow flurries.

Here are a few pictures of that. I know it's a little difficult to get the effect, and I should have taken a video, but the white fuzziness in them is the snow blowing around:

2009 Texas Snow Flurries
2009 Texas Snow Flurries
2009 Texas Snow Flurries
2009 Texas Snow Flurries
2009 Texas Snow Flurries


Even though I'm not a fan of the cold and snow -- in fact, I have a pretty strong aversion to cold -- snow is good for soaking the ground and healing the land. Also, out of the Winter, which is a time of death, for plant life especially, comes Spring, and a time of new life -- just like out of Christ's death comes new life for His people.

Learning to live in colder weather has taken some time to adjust to; but the Lord has granted us better attitudes about being more uncomfortable; and He has allowed us resources for things like polypropylene thermal underwear, which helps immensely; and we have learned to layer and bundle up. Also, we are grateful for the shelters He has allowed us all in the community to have. He has graciously seen us through, and is gracious in helping us continue to learn how to live out here in the country, quite a bit more exposed than we were in the too comfortable city, where the conscience is numbed and heart condition is hidden. You learn a lot when you're uncomfortable, about God's providence, His sovereign will, and your true trust and faith in Him.

May God use whatever means He sees best in His goodness, gentleness and firm hand of love to make us more obedient servants of Him; and may we see His glorious attributes in His workings.

-- David