Aug 19

Should Christians Support the Nation of Israel?

Flag of Israel

Flag of Israel

The nation of Israel is regularly in the news, especially now with the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.

This post is not about the political position of the United States.  In fact, let me say that what you think and believe about our policy regarding Israel politically is your opinion.  Israel is a democratic state, non-Islamic, and key to American interests in the region, so there are numerous reasons to advocate American support of Israel. But in this article, I want to simply address the question, “Do we have a Biblical mandate to support Israel as Christians?”

Many Christian groups claim that we should financially, prayerfully, and nationally support Israel because of the Bible.  Typically this revolves around the idea that the Jewish people are “God’s chosen people.”  Many see the current nation of Israel as the fulfillment of the promises made to Abraham and predicted in the prophets.  Finally, dispensational premillennialist, which are a large section of evangelical Christians, believe that the nation of Israel is an essential component in the end of time coming of Jesus to reign on earth for 1,000 years.

However I believe Christians have no Biblical mandate to support the nation of Israel and here are four reasons.  (BY THE WAY – I preached a sermon on this topic which is available in the audio resources.)

1.  The current nation of Israel is not a fulfillment of Old Testament promises and prophecies.

God made some key promises to Abraham primarily in Genesis 12.  He promised him a nation, a land, and a seed that would bless all families of the earth.  All three of these promises were fulfilled in the pages of Scripture.  Abraham’s descendants became a great nation, conquered the land of Canaan, and Christ came to bless all nations.¹

The prophets of Israel, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, warned of the impending doom and captivity of Israel because of their idolatry.  They also predicted their restoration and a period of renewed peace and hope.  The prophecies were primarily fulfilled by Ezra, Nehemiah, and Zerubbabel as they resettled the land.  There is also a dual-fulfillment aspect of these prophecies as they also point to the gospel age and the coming of the Messiah.²

In fact, there is not a single New Testament passage that predicts a restoration of national Israel days into the future.  Quite to the contrary, the New Testament teaches against a national hope for the Jewish people. It makes it clear their purpose has been accomplished.³

2.  Jews are not the chosen of God today, but rather the church is God’s people today.

Israel and the law of Moses had a special purpose to lead us to Jesus (Gal. 3:19-25).  The New Testament makes it clear that God is not a “respecter of persons.”  The gospel is made available to all.  Israel’s favor was always based on the condition of their obedience, of which they often fell short.

Christians today are the people of God.  God has broken down the wall of separation that divided Jews and Gentiles and reconciled them together in one body–His church.  Paul even calls the church the “Israel of God.”  God does not have two special chosen peoples today.  To think that the Jews still are, despite their rejection of Jesus, goes against the entire message of the New Testament.¹¹

3. The Jewish people, like everyone else, must accept Christ to be saved.

Jewish people today, just like every other nationality and ethnic background, must look to Jesus for salvation today.²²  The Apostle Paul had such a burning desire for the salvation of His people that he wished himself accursed if it would mean the salvation of his countrymen.  He hoped the salvation of the Gentiles through Christ would provoke the Jews to jealousy causing them to come to Jesus.  He desired for them to hear the gospel, because it is through hearing the Word of God that faith comes (Rom. 10:17).  Paul taught that it was only through the gospel that all Israel can be saved.³³

4.  The Jewish nation is not essential to the return of Christ.  

Contrary to what is often written in best selling predictive end of time books today, the New Testament does not teach that the nation of Israel has a role in the end of times.  The book of Revelation is not focused on the Jewish nation, but rather aiding persecuted Christians with hope and strength.  There is no call in the NT for the temple to be rebuilt, rather the book of Hebrews shows the obsolete nature of such worship.  Christ is described as coming at an hour that no one knows.  His return will be sudden, swift, and bring destruction upon this world.  Only the patience and long-suffering of God prevent this event from happening and it will only require a word from God for its commencement.  All of us are encouraged to be sober and vigilant in our preparation of this day.¹¹¹

Conclusion:

While this should not be an area of divisiveness and contention amongst Christians, it is important for us to properly understand the Bible on this subject.  Think what you want about the nation of Israel politically and its role in the Middle East; but do not feel like you have a Biblical mandate to stand with the nation of Israel because of their heritage.  Thus, by way of application, it is my opinion that Christians should consider these truths when asked to contribute to Israel-support ministries.  We should not encourage our political leaders to use our military to protect Israel from a Biblical position.

What questions or thoughts would you have for me on this subject?

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¹  Regarding the promises made to Abraham here are some scripture references:  Nation Promise – Gen. 12:3; 13:6; 17:6, 18:18  - Fulfilled – Ex. 1:7; Deut. 26:5;  Land Promise – Gen. 12:2, 13:16; 17:6; 18:18; Fulfilled in the days of Joshua and Solomon – Josh. 21:43-45; 23:14-15; Psalm 80:11; 1 Kings 4:21; 2 Chron. 9:26;  Seed Promise – Gen. 12:3; 22:18; fulfilled in the coming of Christ – Acts 3:25-26; Gal. 3:16

²  Restoration prophecies – Jeremiah 29:10-14; Isaiah 43:18-19; 52:5-12; Some Minor Prophets; Fulfilled – See the books of Ezra and Nehemiah; Haggai;

³  The NT teaches against a national home for Israel.  Jesus warned of their destruction (Mat. 21:33-44; 22:1-8; 23:37-39; ch. 24; Luke 19:11-14; 27.    Regarding their purpose being accomplished see Galatians 3:19-25; Ephesians 2:14-16; Col. 2:14.

¹¹  Acts 10:34-35;   The gospel is available for all peoples – Gal. 3:28; Rom. 1:16; Mat. 28:18-20; The church today – 1 Peter 2:9-10; Ephesians 1 – 2;  “Israel of God’  - Gal. 6:16.

²²  John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 1:16; Galatians 2:16; ch. 3

³³  Paul writes about his desire for the Jewish people in Romans chapters 9-11.

¹¹¹  See 2 Peter 3; 1 Thess. 4 and 5; Matthew 24:36-50

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Aug 14

What I Wish Everyone Knew about the Church of Christ

what i wish everyone knew about the church of Christ.001Most of us don’t know much about other religious groups besides our own.  For many we have only had experience with one or maybe a couple of groups.  There is much ignorance and misunderstanding about what we teach in the Church of Christ.  If I had the opportunity to share with everyone some information about the church, I would share these four things regarding our passion.

These are all focused around our passions.  When I speak of having a passion for these four things, I am saying we have a deep loyalty and burning desire for these four things.

Also, please don’t think I am saying we are perfect or complete in these four areas.  These are passions of ours, but they are also areas where we are striving to grow and mature in as well.  Also, I do not claim to speak for the entire brotherhood, or every location that has “Church of Christ” on their sign.  I am speaking regarding my passions, the passions of Seven Oaks Church of Christ, and most of the churches of Christ I know.

You may not agree with me after this post, but I believe you can understand and know more about the Church of Christ.   (BY THE WAY — I preached this same message in a sermon and it is available in the sermon audios).

1.  We have a passion for restoring New Testament Christianity.  

We are a part of the restoration movement.  We have a desire to practice Christianity in its doctrines, morals, fervor, and faith as found in the New Testament.  We believe in the slogan based on 1 Peter 4:11, “Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.”  This restoration plea is based on the belief that God gave a pattern to the Apostles for the church.¹

Thus we are non-denominational in nature.  There is no authority above the local church other than Jesus Christ as the head of His church.  We just want to be a part of the church we read about in the Bible that was established on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2.  We desire unity amongst believers and want people to come forth out of their denominational churches and just be Christians–nothing more and nothing less!

2.  We have a passion for doing things God’s way. 

Our passion is to follow and submit to the authority of God.  In an age when people see God as a buddy, or a grandfatherly figure in which all roads lead to God, we still have a passion for obedience.  Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  (John 8:32).  This respect for the authority of Scripture affects our choices regarding worship, the role of women, and the plan of salvation.

We are often known for not using instrumental music in our worship unto God.  This decision is not made in order to be different, but rather because we want to give God what he has asked for in the New Testament.  We know He will be pleased with our offerings of song.²  This is why we use men in the leading of public worship.³  This is why we partake of the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week.¹¹

Our passion for doing things God’s way leads us to certain moral and doctrinal positions.  This is why we teach adult baptism for the remission of sins to be saved.²²  We want to take obedience to the Word seriously.

3.  We have a passion for Loving People. 

We are frail and don’t always love people as we should, but the church of Christ has a passion for loving people.   Jesus taught us to “love one another.”  We love people enough to tell them the truth.  We love the lost and seek to share the gospel with those who have not heard it.  We love the poor and hurting.  We are known for benevolence, disaster relief, and mission efforts.  We love the brethren and take care of one another.  I have been in the church my whole life and I have been loved throughout.  Everything we do is attempted to be rooted and grounded in love (1 John 4:19).

4.  We have a passion for the Lord and His Church.

The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your strength, all your heart, and all your might (Mat. 22:37).  We love the Lord.  We have a passion for a personal relationship with Him and seek to put Him first in our lives.  We love His church.  We want to put the kingdom of God first in our lives (Mat. 6:33).  We believe we are the body of Christ here on earth, so we have the responsibility of being his hands, feet, and mouth to this world.  We do not believe you can be a faithful and pleasing Christian to God by being disconnected from His church.  The church has a divine mission and calling.  We want the church to grow and prosper.

Conclusion

I wish everyone knew and saw these four passions in us.  I hope you will consider these passions and join us in holding these passions dear.  If you are a member of the Church of Christ I hope you will be the kind of person that allows these passions to shine forth in your life.  So that others know by words and deed that you have a passion for New Testament Christianity, obeying God, loving others, and the Lord and His Church.

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¹ – Paul tells Timothy to “hold fast the pattern of sound words.”  2 Tim. 1:13.  The NT refers to a body of teaching or doctrines (Acts 2:42; Jude 3; John 8:32; Gal. 1:6-9).  Our plea is to follow this pattern and not to add to or take away from the message of Scripture (Rev. 22:18-19).

² – The NT commands and gives the example of singing many times (Acts 16:25; Rom. 15:9; 1 Cor. 14:15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12; James 5:13; Heb. 13:15).  The NT never authorizes, commands, nor approves an example of the early church playing an instrument in worship to God.  Early church history teaches us the instrument of music was not introduced into Christian worship until the year 670 AD.

³ – The NT teaches male spiritual leadership in the home and church.  Women are not permitted to have authority over men or teach them in the public worship and work of the church (1 Tim. 2:12-14; 1 Cor. 14:34-35).

¹¹ – The early church partook of communion or the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week. We want to do likewise as this was approved and taught by the Apostles (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-34; 16:1-2)

²² – The New Testament teaches that one becomes a Christian at the point of belief, repentance, and immersion (baptism) into Christ.  Baptism has the purpose of adding one to the body of Christ, washing away their sins in the blood of Christ, and contacting the death burial and resurrection of Jesus.  John 3:5; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16; Romans 6:3-6; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Peter 3:21

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Aug 12

Another Lesson from the Poor Widow

poor widwoIn ladies’ class this morning we were studying through Mark 12.  It contains the story of the poor widow who gave “two small copper coins, which make a penny.”  Jesus remarked when pointing out this widow to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box.  For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:42-44).

It seems the primary lesson drawn from this story is the sacrificial attitude of giving displayed by this poor widow.  Man looks at the “big givers” while God knew and cherished this gift, though small in worldly value, it was highly cherished by God.

But I believe there is more to this story.  The few verses above describe the Scribes who love to be seen of men with their long robes, best seats, and endless prayers.  Yet, they “devour widows’ houses.”  Jesus had just recently discussed the greatest commandment and deals with loving God from the heart, not just through outward sacrifices (Mark 12:28-34).

Maybe the widow’s story should be seen as a message to His disciples to take care of poor widows, like this one, who have great faith, meager finances, and cast their hope in God!  Is this widow a pattern for us to give everything we own to the Lord?  While a Christian certainly has the freedom to do such, it seems it would often be inadvisable to give everything.  Rather, it seems the lady has hardly anything.  She takes what little she has and chooses to give her last bit to the Lord.  Like the widow in Elijah’s day who was asked to bake her last bread for the Prophet rather than for herself and her son.  This widow casts her money and her hope with the Lord.

It is as if Jesus is saying to His disciples, you have a heart for this type of widow!  The Scribes and Pharisees focus on the big givers and mistreat the widows, but Jesus’ disciples have a responsibility of valuing the contributions of poor widows and seeing to their needs.  

How are we doing as His disciples in providing and caring for the widows who look to God for their provision?  Jesus knew it was easy to spot the big givers, but what about the needy giver who gives out of her deep poverty?  We must value and care for them, because God does!

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Aug 07

Book Review: Bethlehem Road: A Guide to Ruth

bethlehem roadI love the book of Ruth.  I have studied and written about it numerous times.  So it was with excitement and anticipation that I greeted Michael Whitworth’s selection of Ruth as the subject of his upcoming book.  When he was planning the project, I offered to review the manuscript for him.  I have done that over the last couple of weeks.  The book just came out on Kindle yesterday and will be released in paperback form in early September.  Michael is a very talented writer and is putting books out at an amazing clip that are done in high quality.  This book is no exception.

I believe this book is the most self-revealing book that the author has written.  I really appreciated his perspective on Ruth as a story that demonstrates the providence of God during our difficult and sorrowful times.  Michael focuses his story around the analogy of the Bethlehem road that Naomi and Ruth took back from Moab. They came back to Bethlehem, Noami’s homeland empty and bitter, after having left with a husband and two sons who have died in the foreign land.  They are destitute and poor, but through the providence of the Lord they are provided for and are used to bring about King David.

Michael writes in a clear and concise manner, yet thoroughly covers the material.  He deals with the difficulties of the text and story, but keeps the focus around the theme of providence and God’s love and mercy.  One of my pet peeves with Ruth is people making it out into this romantic love story.  Michael does not fall into this trap, but demonstrates to the reader how both Boaz and Ruth are described as “worthy” in character and seek to obey the Lord.

As typical of Whitworth’s books he includes “Talking Points” at the end of each chapter for discussion, application, and thought.  The strength of the book is it relating the story of Ruth as a story of hope, comfort, and strength to those who are suffering, bitter, and discouraged.  Michael reveals how he has walked Bethlehem’s road himself in the death of his father.  He “comes along side” the reader who is walking the same road at this time and gives them strength, comfort, and knowledge about God while they are walking the Bethlehem Road.

While this book would be good for a class setting, I want you to know that I think any reader would benefit from this book and come away with a much better understanding of the book of Ruth.  It is only 120 pages and is not a long read.

You can purchase the book for a special pre-release price now at Amazon or purchase the Kindle book for $4.99. Click on this link (BUY BOOK) to do so.  (By the way if you purchase the book at Amazon through this link, you also help out my site at Life in the Kingdom.  Thanks).  I just ordered my paperback copy today, you will be blessed to get a copy too.

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Aug 06

How I Preach From My iPad Mini

My Tools in the Pulpit

My Tools in the Pulpit

I have been preaching with my iPad mini since June of 2013.  I received it as a Father’s Day/Birthday gift from my wife and kids in 2013.  I use the iPad almost everyday in my work and ministry.  In this post I want to share how I use it to preach.

  • I still use my leather-bound ESV Bible for reading scriptures and holding in the pulpit, I use the iPad to show my notes.
  • I produce my notes on my word processing program (for me, Mac Pages) from my computer.  I had to adjust my font to 18 so I could easily see this on the iPad.  I have poor eyesight so not everyone would require this much increase.  But it is smaller on the mini screen than the same font printed out on paper.
  • I save my sermon notes as a PDF document into Dropbox.
Screenshot of my iPad.  Dropbox is on the lower left.

Screenshot of my iPad. Dropbox is on the lower left.

  • I open the PDF on my iPad from the Dropbox app.  You must make sure you have a wifi connection to download this app.  For example don’t just save it to dropbox and go to a special speaking engagement at a church and expect it to come up on your iPad if you don’t connect to wifi or celluar service.  It has to be opened on Dropbox once and then it will be on the iPad.
  • I use the app Noteability to edit the PDF document from the iPad if I have a need. Sometimes I will be reviewing the sermon on Sunday morning and want to add in a scripture or illustration.  I can use this app to do such and then I would preach it from the Noteability app.
Screenshot of Noteability

Screenshot of Noteability

  • I simply scroll through the sermon notes while I am preaching.  I have found this much less cumbersome than having pages of paper in the pulpit and having to move them around.  On the iPad you don’t worry about how many pages you use, because you are simply scrolling down the pages.  Make sure your volume is muted and I lock the screen position to vertical.
  • I use an “m-edge” black book-like case that looks professional and works well for being viewed by the audience.
  • I rarely use a Bible app when preaching or read the text from the iPad.  I have at times, like on a question and answer night, when I would be reading from many scriptures, choose to use the Bible app and print off notes.  I do sometimes put the scripture text in the PDF outline.  I haven’t found it very effective to switch between the Bible app and the sermon outline app.
  • I will say more in another post about my favorite apps for work and ministry, but my practice is much different for Bible class.  I typically read the Bible from my iPad in class and use it as a resource.  Typically in class I will have a class book, handout, or some printed notes that I use as my guide.
  • I really like using the iPad for weddings and funerals.  It is much easier at occasions where you do not have a lectern to use the iPad.  For example at weddings and graveside funeral services I have found the iPad much easier to use.  I will just put the entire service on the notes and not even hold a Bible.
  • I love having access to numerous old sermons on my iPad.  You don’t have to go searching through files in your office, you can just pull up a sermon and be ready to preach it very quickly when you are away from the office. I like this for our nursing home devotionals.

This is how I do it.  Before closing this post I want to add a few other remarks to preachers who are considering doing this.  

  • Don’t be concerned about what the audience will think.  Some preachers have not wanted to go to a tablet because of the feeling that it will distract the audience or make it look like they are just trying to be cool and technological.  In preaching with the iPad in various churches for over a year now I still have not had one person say anything to me about it.  When I made the switch at 7 Oaks no one even mentioned it.  It is a non-factor and does not serve as a distraction at all.
  • It is really about ease of use.  This past Sunday, I preached a Sunday night sermon from notes, because it was an old sermon and I didn’t want to take the time to increase the font.  I was reminded at how much easier it is just to scroll through the iPad rather than fumble with pages.  Also, it gives you more freedom to move around and take your notes with you in a compact form.  I have occasionally read from a story or blog post and I will pick it up and carry the iPad with me as I am walking on the stage.
  • Finally, I know that a big concern for many preachers is the dependence on a tablet.  What if it will not work?  I have never had a problem with my iPad locking up or not working.  I do make sure I have enough battery.  I also have a backup in the sense that I have the powerpoint outline available on the screen.

What questions do you have?

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Aug 05

Dr. Kent Brantly and Risky Faith

Kent brantly photoIn was in the summer of 2003 when our flight was delayed until the next morning that I first met Kent Brantly.  He was a student at ACU who had been in Latin America for a short-term trip.  My wife and I were returning as well from a short-term mission trip.  We met somewhere in the process of retrieving luggage and finding out about our flight.  We invited him to share a hotel room with us.  He shared with us his plans at that time to attend medical school and become a medical missionary.  He had a great passion for missions at the time and a heart of compassion for the lost and hurting.  Since that encounter over 11 years ago, we have not been together again.  We have emailed on occasion, and I have kept up with his marriage, kids, and work through Facebook.

Upon hearing that he had contracted Ebola, it troubled us very much.  We have been fervently praying for him and Nancy Writebol to recover.  Thankfully, it seems all signs are good at the time of this writing for both of them as they are continuing to survive and showing some improvements based upon the media reports.

Since hearing this news, my mind has considered Kent and other’s risky faith.  I remember being impressed, back in 2003, with his desire to go to medical school, which requires much effort and time, and then use that in missionary service full-time.  It is so counter-cultural to what we typically think should be done with our education.  We go to school to make money and get a good job!  Kent was determined and ardently went about fulfilling the plan.  But, it is one thing to give up money, and a another to risk your life in service to the Lord.  Sitting in our comfortable chairs in America, we can tend to think it is foolish and poor stewardship for someone to risk their life for the Lord.  Kent had the choice when the Ebola outbreak started in Liberia to leave, but he chose to stay and treat the sick and hurting.  He, along with the other caregivers, were risking their lives.

As an American culture we expect people to risk their lives playing football, driving cars around a track, serving in the military to defend us, fighting fires, and even for adventure.  But somehow, if someone risks his life for the cause of Christ, it is often unwise, poor stewardship, or blind faith.  As I thought about Kent and his family this past week, I have kept coming back to this thought of them being soldiers in the Lord’s army and risking their lives for the cause of Christ.  The Bible speaks of “men who have risked their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26).  Priscilla and Aquila are said to have “risked their neck” in order to aid Paul (Rom. 16:4).  Epaphroditus is said by Paul to have “nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was lacking in your service to me.” (Phil. 2:30).

Admittedly, the line does sometimes seem blurry in regard to our faith decisions.  Is it an action motivated out of faith, courage, and love, or one motivated from pride, adventure, and irresponsibility?

However, after thinking about Kent’s risky faith, I can’t help but think the church, and my life included, needs more risky faith!  We might just turn the world up-side down like our 1st Century brethren did!  

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Jul 31

The Vast Wasteland of TV

Newton Minnow a former chairman of the FCC made a ground breaking speech about the Vast Wasteland of TV in May 1961.  You likely haven’t heard of it, but it is very applicable to today and a bit prophetic I believe.  Here are some short excerpts of it.

“Ours has been called the jet age, the atomic age, the space age. It is also, I submit, the television age. And just as history will decide whether the leaders of today’s world employed the atom to destroy the world or rebuild it for mankind’s benefit, so will history decide whether today’s broadcasters employed their powerful voice to enrich the people or to debase them. . . . 

But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.

You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you’ll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it.

Is there one person in this room who claims that broadcasting can’t do better?”

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Jul 27

Farm Report #4: Failed But Succeeded

Our goal this year was to grow some sweet corn to sell.  We were only wanting to do around 3/4 of an acre.  We didn’t want to grow just any corn, but “organic” corn; i.e. no artificial fertilizer nor herbicide.  We worked the ground this spring.  It seemed like it took a million trips over the ground to get all of the grass gone.  In fact, we never did get rid of all the grass with my small disc, and it wasn’t the smoothest either.  Like all farmers, I just need more equipment to do the job I need, at least that is what I tell Amanda!!  I was majorly impressed with my wife one day who helped me shovel chicken poop into a spreader which was used as our fertilizer.  I borrowed a two-row planter from a brother at church that was fairly close.  His uncle had been using it to plant some corn.  Unbeknownst to us, the planter had in bean plates rather than corn plates; which meant it planted way more seeds per foot than needed.  The corn came up well, but was much too thick.  But it wasn’t the only thing that was thick!  The weeds were coming on strong.  I was given an old two row cultivator, but it needed some repair and adjustments.  I was busy at the time and struggled to get these done.  A good friend and metal worker was able to fix it up for me and adjust it to 30 inch spacing.  But by this time the weeds were getting a good start.  I finally did get to plow some of it, but the plow chisels are not made for small plants, as they dig down and throw too much dirt.

photo

Then it rained and we had a couple of weeks of tragedy, which kept any work from being done on the corn crop.  Now it was first to middle of June and the corn and weeds were both really tall.  I was able to get through one patch with the cultivator, but the other patch was too big.  The field looked terrible.  You struggled to be able to see any corn at all in the field.  We knew we would not be selling any corn, we were just hoping for some corn to eat!

IMG_0037

This is the corn when I was trying to plow it!

This is the corn when I was trying to plow it!

In the last couple of weeks, the corn ripened and surprisingly we were able to get some nice ears of corn.  Some were really big and full.  The overwhelming majority did not do much, but what did tasted great.  I picked about 60 nice ears that we ate for a week.  Then all of the family spent an afternoon picking the entire field.  We would pick the outside four rows, then I would bush hog them down,  We would pick 4 more, and repeat.  We got a pickup truck load full of corn.  Many of the ears were too small and went to feed the pigs, but most made it to our freezer or bellies.

photo 4

yes, that is Austin in a particularly awful part of the corn patch!

photo 1

Brooke and Landon with their rabbits they caught. It was quite a chase!

photo 2 photo 3

As the season progressed, and the corn crop appeared more and more of a failure, I was somewhat disappointed and ashamed.  I realized the difficulty in organic farming and the challenge of small farming with limited equipment.  I wished I would not have wasted the time, energy, and seed money on the crop.  But as the corn crop ended, I changed and saw the blessing in the experience.  I believe that I paid a good tuition in seed and time costs, but the experience and knowledge gained was worth it.  I think we can continue to make changes and eventually be successful a producing some corn for the kids to sell.  The harvesting of the corn all together as a family was a wonderful experience with the kids learning about hard work, getting dirty, and catching baby rabbits.  We all set around and shucked the corn on a following night.  It was a great family project and endeavor in the end.

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Caleb certainly thought it was a success.

Caleb certainly thought it was a success.

So I failed, but I succeeded!  I may just have needed to fail, in order to succeed.  We will see, but either way my family will be eating some good organic corn all year long, even if it did cost way more than what I would have paid for it.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/farm-report-4-failed-but-succeeded/

Jul 23

The Weekly Hug Project

by Sean Dreilinger at Flickr.com

by Sean Dreilinger at Flickr.com

At Seven Oaks’ Ladies’ Night, Cathy Powell pointed out how little physical touch, namely hugs, a widow or widower will receive each week.  Amanda then decided to have our kids hug a widow or widower each Sunday between class and worship.  Physical touch and hugs are so important for all of us as a way of feeling love.  Have you ever thought about how a widow doesn’t have a spouse to give them hugs and other physical touch?  

Many people are touch-deprived. One study found that one-third of people receive no hugs on a daily basis while 75 percent said they wanted more hugs.¹  Researchers suggest that people need 8 hugs a day.  Hugs have been shown to be extremely effective at healing disease, loneliness, sickness, depression, and stress.  There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”²  This may seem a bit high, but I know children need and love getting lots of hugs throughout the day.  Strong marriages are known for consistent hugs and kisses throughout the day, especially when leaving and arriving back to one another.

Because she recognized the power in hugs and the desire of widows for hugs Amanda initiated the “weekly hug project.”  Of course a big reason for this was to teach our children to express love and concern for widows.   They have been able to meet and get to know several in the church.  Amanda simply tells the three older children each a widow or widower to go greet and hug before worship begins.  Sometimes she has to point this brother or sister out, but by now the kids have learned many of them by name.  At first the kids were a bit uncomfortable and she would go with them, but they have done really well with the project and appreciate the love in return. The kids have even received cards in the mail thanking them for the hugs.

I am not sharing this to brag, though I am proud, but to encourage you in two areas.  1) Give more hugs.  Realize the power of physical touch in communicating care, concern, and love.  2) If you have small children consider beginning a “weekly hug project” it will be a blessing for your children and for those they hug.

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¹  http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/06/hugging.aspx

²  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5756/10-Reasons-Why-We-Need-at-Least-8-Hugs-a-Day.html

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/the-weekly-hug-project/

Jul 22

Book Reviews: The Derision of Heaven and Esau’s Doom

I have a great appreciation and admiration for Michael Whitworth.  Michael started his own publishing company Start2Finish books a couple of years back.  It is his aim to produce trusted, engaging guides to God’s word.  He desires to cover every Bible book over the course of his lifetime.  He is certainly making great strides at accomplishing this goal.  I am amazed at the amount of material he is able to produce, given his work as a preacher and family man as well.  You can read more about Michael, his blog, and other books at his website – www.MichaelWhitworth.com.   I want to review two of Michael’s latest books.

The Derision of Heaven:  A Guide to Daniel

 

derision of heaven

I have read and taught this book twice.  I developed a greater appreciation for the book the second time.  I taught it to two different Sunday school classes at Seven Oaks.  Michael does a wonderful job of helping the adult reader consider the famous stories of Daniel that are usually reserved for children’s classes.  He shows their application and power for the Christian.  The last 6 chapters of Daniel are some of the most difficult in all the Bible.  Michael does not get bogged down in all of the details of the prophecies.  He had adequately done his research and conveys the necessary information, but he succeeds in giving the reader an overall view of the meaning and some application from them.  He is not dogmatic on his view, and is humble in interpreting apocalyptic literature.  The book is concise and non-techical so that it can be easily used by the general audience which is his target.  The church purchased books for students in my classes and many of them were read and used.  My two favorite aspects of this book were: 1) his closing section at the end of each chapter called “Talking Points” where he makes some application to our current world, and 2) his constantly taking the reader back to Daniel’s overall theme of the sovereignty of God in this world.  The reader is left with a renewed appreciation for the prophet Daniel as a man, and most importantly the power and might of God amongst the nations.

Buy Your Copy at Amazon

Kindle – $7.99; Hardcover – $18.99; Paperback – $11.99; Audio – $17.95

Esau’s Doom:  A Guide to Obadiah

The little book of Obadiah is not often studied or preached from today.  Michael has produced an ebook on the book.  It is a quick but informative read.  I have actually preached a sermon on Obadiah in times past, but this book gave me some new thoughts and information that will lead to some fresh sermons on Obadiah.  Michael does a great job of making relevant and practical the ancient book of Obadiah. I was made to see Obadiah in new lights and with renewed application for the church today. He does a thorough job of research and explains the text in a concise manner. His talking points and use of historical information are some of the highlights.  The reader is challenged to consider their attitude toward their enemies and our mercy and compassion for others. 

Buy Your Copy at Amazon for $2.99

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.joshketchum.com/book-reviews-the-derision-of-heaven-and-esaus-doom/

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