Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Song - The Armor of God

After putting together a little song to help remember the names of God, called Jehovah is His Name!, I had wanted to do something with the armor of God, which over the last few years has become more of a focus in Sue and my spiritual walks.

Here is the Scripture text I used:

Ephesians 6:10-18:
10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

I had a tune I had already written called "I Hate Cockleburs", in honor of the time spent pulling them out by hand in our 11-acre north field, and since, continuing to sweep that field, clearing them twice yearly before they seed out. The "lyrics" went like this:
I hate cockleburs, yes I do
I hate cockleburs, how 'bout you?
I hate cockleburs, I hate cockleburs,
I hate cockleburs, yes I do!

(On a doctrinal aside, I don't "hate" them as I hope I hate sin. And actually, I recognize weeds and the like as a reminder of God's hatred of sin when He cursed the ground [see Gen 3:17-19] and His perfect wisdom and goodness in bringing them forth. And so, I use the word "hate" as something of typical usage, and because it fit with the tune's meter. :) But, to return...)

The cockleburs were indeed a pain. But, the effort in pulling them paid off, and there are very few now every year. And each time I try to remember to ask God to weed the gardens of our hearts, so there will be good soil, and no thorns or weeds. See Matt 13:1-23

Also, the tune is in a minor key, and I thought that would work well with a song about armor and battles.

And so, over a fairly long period of time, the Lord did grant I finally finish working out the lyrics with the cocklebur melody, and adding the harmony parts. With this one, as with when I did Moses' Song of the Sea from Exodus 15, I attempted to stay as close to the actual Scripture verses themselves as possible, trying to use only minimal artistic license to make it all work out. :)

This is the sheet music:

The Armor of God

And a PDF:
The Armor of God (PDF)

And an instrumental audio version:

The Armor of God - Instrumental (MP3)

Here, Sue and I sing it with the accompaniment:

The Armor of God - Vocal (MP3)

May God grant us His armor daily so we might resist the devil, and his and the world's distractions and temptations, and we thank the Lord for His armor and His blessed word, the Bible!

-- David

Saturday, June 27, 2020

New Pig Pen Fencing - Update I

One thing out here is things seem to go much more slowly than anticipated. :) God's providence as first cause -- His bringing about all things according to His will and plans -- but, by means of other priorities becoming more important, other things to fix, etc.

Well, back in 2016, I started replacing our old pig fencing in the main pig pen with new cinder block/cattle panel fence sections I started making as part of an extension to the original pig pen back in 2014.

Last year, I started getting back to working on this main pig fence area, and recently finally finished all the panel sections and got them in place! Yea! :D

In the 2016 blog post above, I show in the video the first few sections being done. And here is a picture from 2017 of the whole one side being done:

New Pig Pen Siding, Side 1 Complete

And here are some more ready to haul over using our goat shack caddy:

2 New Pig Pen Cinder Block Cattle Panel Sections Ready for Hauling

Once there, I opened the previous fence line:

Opened Pig Pen Side

And started dragging them in, sliding one end at a time back and forth:

Sliding Section

More Sliding Section

And stood and scooted them into place:

Siding Section in Place

It's like a parade! ;)

Sliding More Sections

And here's that whole back side done:

Pig Pen Side Two Done

Pig Pen Side Two Done, Other Direction

Then, it was off to the short sides. After cleaning out the previous fencing and t-posts, I slid the panels in place, and here's the first short side done. What's nice about these cinder block cattle panel sections is you can curve them around, which helps when trying to join with another fence line where there is no corner post:

Pig Pen Short Side Done

Pig Pen Short Side Done, Other Direction

This is the last side before cleaning out the previous fencing...lots of previous hacking at it to try to keep it acting as a fence: :)

Old Dilapidated Fencing

More Old Dilapidated Fencing

And here's that last side, finally done!

Final Pig Pen Siding Done

More Final Pig Pen Siding Done

I just have to wire them all together now, and then Lord willing we'll perhaps test it all out with a new piggy or two! :D

Always we are thankful to the Lord for His provisions, and safety in working with these things -- even though one person can move them, they're still pretty heavy, and I have strained my back before, but God mercifully granted that I not this time, and I am thankful!

-- David

Monday, June 15, 2020

Providence's Perpetuation Provisions: 2nd & 3rd 2020 Chick Hatchings

The Lord graciously granted our next two chick hatchings of 2020, the 2nd and 3rd so far!

This mommy was in the barn loft, and so we grabbed her and her eggs and put her in the brooder barn (formerly known as the summer kitchen), and she hatched out a bunch of them! I think only a few eggs didn't hatch, and all her hatchlings are still there, except for one...

At night, I put lanterns with the hens and chicks to give them at least a better shot at defending against small intruders, like snakes, which we've had a lot of problems with, in that, they get in there and eat or try to eat the chicks. Well, one night as I went in there to set them up for the night, one of the chicks already had a small snake attached to its head, and that snake had basically just suffocated it because I don't believe it could have swallowed the chick. So, sadly, that's the one chick we lost of the bunch, and there's one less snake now too :) , but we are thankful for the ones God has granted to continue:

2nd New 2020 Chicks

More 2nd New 2020 Chicks

And here's group 3 I believe. Sadly here too, the day after I took these pictures and video below, one of the chicks was very sick, and died just a few hours later. And, there's one chick that seems to have neurological or vision problems, but is able to maintain itself, so we'll see how that little one fares in the end, and we pray the Lord might help it, and help it to be a productive member of the flock, if He might grant:

3rd New 2020 Chicks

More 3rd New 2020 Chicks

Finally, here's the video of the two groups:

As always, we are very thankful to the Lord for these provisions, the eggs He grants from them, and the meat as well!

-- David

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Garden - Spring 2020

After taking a land sabbath last year, and doing lots of land prep, it was time to get back to planting and by God's graces growing a garden!

And here is where things are as of a few days ago. When I'm watering each plant, I think how each one is a little miracle from God! A little seed, in the ground, a little tender bud, the plant growing, and then being fruitful if God wills.

Can I make these plants grow and make a bean? No. It's God that gives the increase.

And it's the same spiritually:
1 Cor 3:6-7 - "6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."

Both in the garden, and in the garden of our hearts, truly miracles of grace from the Lord!

But now, back to the garden on our homestead...

Here it is overall:

Garden Spring 2020

And sweet potato plants:

Sweet Potato Plants

Green bean plants:

Green Bean Plants

Zucchini plants and zucchini:

Zucchini Plants


More Zucchini

The first haul!

Still More Zucchini

And okra plants:

Okra Plants

And a few years ago, we were given a Goji berry plant, and it has hung in there:

Goji Berry Plant

With some berries!

Goji Berries

One of the valves on our cistern spigot drips slightly, and all Winter we had it dripping on this Goji plant. We heard they send off root shoots, and boy, did it shoot them off! The main plant is on the left, and all the rest of the offshoots. It's starting to spread out nicely!

Goji Berry Plant Spreading Root Shoots

Here is a volunteer sweet potato plant from, I assume, plantings of a couple of years ago!

Volunteer Sweet Potato Plant

And here is one of two black berry plants that were given to us I believe the same time the Goji was. One hasn't come back, but this one has "died" back a few times, but is still going:

Black Berry Plant

Finally, this is our compost pile. That square is probably a couple of feet longer than the length of a shovel:

Compost Pile

After "processing" our over-aggressive roosters here, we put the remains in the compost pile, but something has discovered that free lunch and digs them out, and you can see left-overs strewn about:

Compost Pile Chicken Parts

We are very thankful to the Lord for granting us the opportunity and provisions to plant a garden this year! And we pray for and are grateful to Him for any increase He might grant, in our garden, in our hearts, and in the hearts of our families, friends, those we know, and even those we don't. We pray the Lord grant a great increase in His kingdom, and may He guide and use us in what small ways He might in the planting and watering of people's hearts to that end!

-- David

Friday, May 22, 2020

David's Digest: Satan's Devices & Biblical Remedies: Christ Is All

In the recent past as I read an excellent book from Puritan Thomas Brooks called "Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices", I saved snippets throughout to share on the blog, with the hopes others might benefit from them being highlighted, and we've been doing some of that over the past months. Why is this all important?

The Bible warns of one of our greatest adversaries of our souls:
1 Peter 5:8 - "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"

But we are to resist...
James 4:7 - "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Ephesians 6:11 - "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil."

...but only with God's help:
Psalm 28:7 - "The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him."

The following below are a couple of points ([9] and [10], although I list 1-8 for some context) against a device Satan uses to keep souls in a sad, doubting and questioning condition by suggesting to them that their graces are not true, but counterfeit. Now, there indeed must be true graces in the heart, which will show evidently in someone's life, with the fruit of the Spirit and other good works, but even those the devil can try to use against a person by swinging the pendulum the other way. Mr. Brooks puts it like this:
Says Satan, All is not gold that glitters, all is not free grace that you count grace, that you call grace. That which you call faith is but a fancy, and that which you call zeal, is but a natural heat and passion; and that light you have, it is but common, it is short, to what many have attained to that are now in hell, etc. Satan does not labor more mightily to persuade hypocrites that their graces are true when they are counterfeit, than he does to persuade precious souls that their graces are counterfeit, when indeed they are true, and such as will abide the touchstone of Christ, etc.

[Footnote: Yet it must be granted that many a fair flower may grow out of a stinking root, and many sweet dispositions and fair actions may be where there is only the corrupt root of nature.]

For the full device and remedies, you can listen to it here:

or download it:

The entire book is scanned in here: https://archive.org/stream/completeworksoft01broo/completeworksoft01broo_djvu.txt...

...or you can listen to the entire book on this page:
Thomas Brooks - Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices

From Thomas Brooks:

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, wisely to consider, The differences between renewing grace and, restraining grace, between sanctifying grace and temporary grace; and this I will show you in these ten particulars.

[1.] True grace makes all glorious within and without.

[2.] The objects of true grace are supernatural.

[3.] True grace enables a Christian, when he is himself, to do spiritual actions with real pleasure and delight.

[4.] True grace makes a man most careful, and most fearful of his own heart.

[5.] Grace will work a man's heart to love and cleave to the strictest and holiest ways and things of God, for their purity and sanctity, in the face of all dangers and hardships.

[6.] True grace will enable a man to step over the world's crown, to take up Christ's cross; to prefer the cross of Christ above the glory of this world.

[7.] Sanctifying grace, renewing grace, puts the soul upon spiritual duties, from spiritual and intrinsecal motives, as from the sense of divine love, that does constrain the soul to wait on God, and to act for God ; and the sense of the excellency and sweetness of communion with God, and the choice and precious discoveries that the soul hath formerly had of the beauty and glory to [sic] God, whilst it has been in the service of God.

[8.] Saving grace, renewing grace, will cause a man to follow the Lord fully in the desertion of all sin, and in the observation of all God's precepts.

[9.] True grace leads the soul to rest in Christ, as in his summum bonum, chiefest good. It works the soul to center in Christ, as in his highest and ultimate end. 'Whither should we go? thou hast the words of eternal life,' John vi. 68. 'My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest of ten thousand; I found him whom my soul loved, I held him and would not let him go,' Cant. v. 10, iii. 4. That wisdom a believer has from Christ, it leads him to center in the wisdom of Christ, 1 Cor. i. 30; and that love the soul has from Christ, it leads the soul to center in the love of Christ; and that righteousness the soul has from Christ, it leads the soul to rest and center in the righteousness of Christ, Philip, iii. 9. 1

[Footnote: Grace is that star that leads to Christ; it is that cloud and pillar of fire that leads the soul to the heavenly Canaan, where Christ sits chief.]

True grace is a beam of Christ, and where it is, it will naturally lead the soul to rest in Christ. The stream does not more naturally lead to the fountain, nor the effect to the cause, than true grace leads the soul to Christ. But restraining grace, temporary grace, works the soul to center and rest in things below Christ. Sometimes it works the soul to center in the praises of the creature; sometimes to rest in the rewards of the creature: 'Verily they have their reward,' said Christ, Mat. vi. 1, 2: and so in an hundred other things. etc., Zech. vii. 5, 6.

[10.] True grace will enable a soul to sit down satisfied and contented with the naked enjoyments of Christ.
  • The enjoyment of Christ without honor will satisfy the soul;
  • the enjoyment of Christ without riches,
  • the enjoyment of Christ without pleasures, and without the smiles of creatures, will content and satisfy the soul.

'It is enough; Joseph is alive,' Gen. xlv. 28. So said a gracious soul, though honor is not, and riches are not, and health is not, and friends are not, etc., it is enough that Christ is, that he reigns, conquers, and triumphs. Christ is the pot of manna, the cruse of oil, a bottomless ocean of all comfort, content, and satisfaction. He that has him wants [lacks] nothing; he that wants [lacks] him enjoys nothing. 'Having nothing,' saith Paul, 'and yet possessing all things,' 2 Cor. vi. 10.

[Footnote: Said Seneca, a contented man cannot be a poor man.]

Oh! but a man that has but temporary grace, that has but restraining grace, cannot sit down satisfied and contented, under the want [lack] of outward comforts.

[Footnote: Charles the Great his motto was, 'Christus regnat, vincit, triumphat. And so it is the saints.' St Austin [Augustine] upon Ps. xii. brings in God rebuking a discontented Christian thus: What is your faith? have I promised you these things? What! were you made a Christian that you should flourish here in this world?]

[The man with temporary grace continues:] Christ is good with honors, says such a soul; and Christ is good with riches, and Christ is good with pleasures, and he is good with such and such outward contents. I must have Christ and the world, or else with the young man in the Gospel, in spite of my soul, I shall forsake Christ to follow the world. Ah! how many shining professors [of religion] be there in the world, that cannot sit down satisfied and contented, under the want [lack] of this or that outward comfort and content, but are like bedlams, fretting and vexing, raging and madding [going about as mad], as if there were no God, no heaven, no hell, nor no Christ to make up all such outward wants [lacks] to souls.

That a soul truly gracious can say, in having nothing I have all things, because I have Christ; having therefore all things in him, I seek no other reward, for he is the universal reward. Such a soul can say, Nothing is sweet to me without the enjoyment of Christ in it; honors, nor riches, nor the smiles of creatures, are not sweet to me no farther than I see Christ, and taste Christ in them.

[Footnote: Content is the deputy of outward felicity, and supplies the place where it is absent. As the Jews throw the book of Esther to the ground before they read it, because the name of God is not in it, as the Rabbins have observed; so do saints in those mercies wherein they do not read Christ's name, and see Christ's heart.]

The confluence of all outward good cannot make a heaven of glory in my soul, if Christ, who is the top of my glory, be absent; as Absalom said, 'What is all this to me so long as I cannot see the king's face?' 2 Sam. xiv. 32. So says the soul, why do you tell me of this and that outward comfort, when I cannot see his face whom my soul loves? Why, my honor is not my Christ, nor riches is not Christ, nor the favor of the creature is not Christ; let me have him, and let the men of this world take the world, and divide it amongst themselves; I prize my Christ above all, I would enjoy my Christ above all other things in the world; his presence will make up the absence of all other comforts, and his absence will darken and embitter all my comforts; so that my comforts will neither taste like comforts, nor look like comforts, nor warm like comforts, when he that should comfort my soul stands afar off, etc., Lam. i. 16.

Christ is all and in all to souls truly gracious, Col. iii. 11. We have all things in Christ, and Christ is all things to a Christian.
  • If we be sick, he is a physician;
  • if we thirst, he is a fountain;
  • if our sins trouble us, he is righteousness;
  • if we stand in need of help, he is mighty to save;
  • if we fear death, he is life;
  • if we be in darkness, he is light;
  • if we be weak, he is strength;
  • if we be in poverty, he is plenty;
  • if we desire heaven, he is the way.

The soul cannot say, this I would have, and that I would have; but says Christ, it is in me, it is in me eminently, perfectly, eternally.

[Footnote: Luther said, he had rather be in hell with Christ, than in heaven without him. None but Christ, none but Christ, said Lambert, lifting up his hands and his fingers' end flaming. (This is the Lambert to whom he is referring: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lambert_(martyr))]

May God grant that Christ indeed be our all! None but Christ, none but Christ!

-- David

Monday, May 4, 2020

Cookbook Review: "Traditional Meals for the Frugal Family"

Traditional Meals for the Frugal Family Book
Our dear friend and neighbor, Shannon has released yet another really great cookbook: "Traditional Meals for the Frugal Family: Delicious, Nourishing Recipes for Less."

A little background...I have known Shannon and her growing family for, wow, going on 10-plus years now. She.is.the.real.deal. I have great respect for her as a Mom, wife, friend and sister in Christ. All of her cookbooks have been written as a result of looking to find ways to feed her family while meeting diet and financial restrictions, without skimping on quality or nutrition. She is MacGyver in the kitchen :))

Today's western diet, as most everyone knows, is full of ingredients that, let's face it, do not lend themselves to a strong, healthy body, especially growing children. Some cookbooks are very niche oriented, or "fru-fru" with ingredients. This cookbook is very mainstream, and anyone who buys it will truly benefit, in my opinion.

Shannon includes really great tried and tested information and tips all throughout, and the recipes are easy to understand and made with healthy, yet, very obtainable ingredients. On a side note, the pictures alone will make your mouth water, and I believe Shannon took all of the photos herself. The whole presentation is very classy.

The contents include a philosophical and real-life approach to "Making Traditional Foods Work on a Budget", providing a sample weekly shopping budget and list, what to buy and why.

And the recipe sections include:
  • "Thrifty Mornings" (Soaked 100% Rolled Oat Pancakes, Greek Fauxgurt, Sweet Potato & Greens Breakfast Skillet, and much more!)

  • "Frugal Broth & Beans" (Soaked Grain-Free Garbanzo Bean Pizza Crust, Soaked Mexican Taco Pizza Bake, Real Food Copycat Tomato Soup, and much more!)

  • "Economical Pastured Proteins" (Tamale Pie, Crispy Oven-Baked Salmon Burgers, Spiced Thai Coconut Chicken, and much more!)

  • "Sensible Accompaniments" (Sheet Pan Hash Browns, Roasted Vegetables, Soaked Gluten-Free Artisan Bread, and much more!)

  • "Prudent Sweets & Treats" (Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie with a Grain-Free Crust, Soaked Chocolate Chunk Cookies, Raw or Dairy Free Mexican Sipping Chocolate, and much more!)

  • "Penny-Pinching DIY's" (Broth-Based Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce, Better Sunflower Seed Butter, Easy and Traditional Homemade Corn Tortillas, and much more!)

Oh, my goodness, I wish my intermittent fast ended sooner than 2:00 pm today - this is making me hungry!!

Dave and I have been on the receiving end of some of Shannon's recipe experiments in preparing for her cookbooks, and they have all been delicious. Shannon and her husband have six children, with another on the way!, and we are very blessed to know and love them.

I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone, especially if you are looking for ways to feed your spouse and family delicious, nutritious food on a budget, or just because the recipes are really cool on their own.


Friday, April 17, 2020

Goodbye Nessa

We had to say bye to our border collie Nessa this week. Earlier in the year, we had tumors removed from her mammaries, but a tumor started growing back. The vet wouldn't operate again, so we tried some natural things for her, and the tumor seemed to start to dissipate, but she ended up with 3 swollen legs, and a fairly large swelling on her inside back leg. She recently seemed to turn a corner in a positive way, but a few days ago, she couldn't lay down or sit anymore, and it seemed because of that she hadn't slept in at least a couple of days, and she was falling asleep standing while we would hold her. She just seemed to take a turn for the worse, and seemed to be suffering, and it seemed basically an impossible quality of life. So, we made the difficult decision.

She had been a real trooper through it all, and it was crushing to have to put her down.

We will always have fond memories of her. In fact, she will always be remembered as having been part of the initial inspiration for the little song I put together, Jehovah Is His Name.

And then there are the memories of her with Brodey, who thankfully seems to be ok as of right now with Nessa missing, even though they had been together with each other for their entire lives...

Here's when we got them back in 2009:

Brodey & Nessa, 2009

More Brodey & Nessa, 2009

In this video from 2010 from this blog post, she seemed to prove what I thought, which was Nessa kinda had a screw loose: :) (The video has no thumbnail, but you should still be able to play it; or you can go to the blog post link.)

Nessa our Border Collie Digs in a Puddle

Here are brother and sister again, 2013 and 2017:

Brodey & Nessa, 2013

Brodey & Nessa, 2017

And here's a final video from back in January, soon after Nessa's surgery. We had a double cone on her to try to keep her from the stitches, and a "diaper" wrap to try to keep her from the open wound:

Goodbye Nessa bo-bessa....we'll miss you lots....

Nessa Grave

Nessa Headstone

....and we thank the Lord for the gift that you were, and for the time He allowed us to have you!

Nessa, 2013

-- David