This is David & Susan Sifford's journal of what we pray is our sojourn of life (Hebrews 11:8-10) along the narrow way (Matt 7:14), even the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16), submitting to the Bible as a light unto both (Psalms 119:105). It is our prayer that these documented moments in our earthly time benefit whom God might choose to edify, but ultimately that God glorifies Himself through them.

Month: March 2010

David’s Digest: The “True” Church?

Several years ago in a conversation, a friend cautioned me to be wary of any Christian teacher who talked about there being a “true” Church vs. I guess everyone who calls themselves Christian being the Church. I suppose he was trying to warn me against people who think that they have the only true way. But is everyone who takes the name of Christ a Christian? Is there a true Church, thus implying a false “church”?

First, when I use the word “Church,” I refer to Christ’s bride, those who are or will be saved, and not a place where people go to meet to worship.

Now, using typology in the Bible can help us find answers to the above questions. For review, briefly, typology is seeing the spiritual realm via the temporal.

Let’s start with the people of Israel — God’s “chosen people.” God called them out from among all other nations of people to be His people (Deut 7:6). While God temporily saved the people of Israel out from bondage of Egypt as a “type” (shadow) of spiritual salvation and separating a people (His children, the Church) unto Himself, later on, many of those individuals who were brought out of Egypt perished in their sins (Num 16; Num 14:22-34; Num 21:4-9). How could this be if they were part of the group called “God’s chosen people”?

In Jer 5:25-31, God declares that among His people are found wicked men and false prophets; but how can they be such if they are His people? The Lord goes on further to say in Jer 23:3 that He will gather the remnant of the people of Israel who He scattered to other countries. Why only the remnant? Are they not all God’s chosen people?

During His time here on earth, much of Christ’s ministry was the condemnation of the Jewish religious people of the day (John 8:44; Matt 23:27). They called themselves God’s chosen people, their genealogical father being Abraham; but Christ condemned them; and yet, there were a few around Him of the same Jewish chosen people that had a God-given faith in Him (Matt 16:16; John 11:24-27). How is that possible?

As you can see with these examples, God deals with these two groups within the “people of God” separately, one being false professors of religion, the others being actual (true) followers of God. But what about the heathen as a group? If you look at it high-level, most of who Scripture addresses are the people of God in general, and the heathen are not really dealt with by God or even Christ, other than in their relation to God’s people — all of the Old Testament is generally directed toward God’s chosen people, Christ never really dealt with the heathen authorities, and the New Testament is essentially written to Churches in various locations. And so, it is evident that there are three groups of people in the Bible — the two divisions of God’s chosen people, and the heathen — and not just two groups — the saved vs. the not saved, Christians vs. non-Christians (although those delineations do exist).

This is shown to be true in the New Testament, where Paul states in Rom 9:6 that “…they are not all Israel [spiritual], which are of Israel [temporal].” And he further describes who are the true seed of Abraham (spiritual Israel) in Gal 3:16,29: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ….And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed [spiritual Israel], and heirs according to the promise.” Now, Abraham had his physical seed, which were Isaac and Ishmael — both the seed of Abraham, but yet one not the spiritual seed, as Ishmael was not of the line chosen by God. The same was with Jacob and Esau. Similarly, the Jewish people at Christ’s time were of the temporal seed of Abraham, considered by themselves to be God’s chosen people (from lineage); but the religious leaders of the day weren’t of the spiritual seed, whereas the apostles were — both groups of people known as “God’s chosen people” from Abraham, and yet only some of them being truly (spiritually) God’s chosen people.

As previously noted, these temporal conventions are “types” or shadows of spiritual realities. Spiritually, the heathen are still the heathen; but the people of Israel, those called by Jehovah’s name, were “type” for those who are called by Christ’s name (this is not an argument for dispensationalism or otherwise — it’s simply type and antitype). Now, since there were those in Israel who weren’t godly and those who truly were, the same applies in the spiritual realm, with those who are not Christians even though they call themselves such, and those who actually are Christians. Thus, there are those who are false professors of Christianity, and those who are true Christians (ie. the true Church).

Understanding this then begs the question: how do we know who is part of the true Church? The Bible declares we know them by their doctrine (Rom 6:17; 1 Tim 1:9-11) and their fruit (Matt 7:15-20). Not everyone who claims the name of Christ is saved (Matt 7:21-23), and so having the truth is important, in beliefs and how one lives his life.

May the Lord always give us eyes to see and ears to hear His Word, may He grant us a love of the truth (2 Thess 2:10), and may He grow us in the knowledge and understanding of who He is.

— David

Garden 2009 – Update VI – Onions

Garden 2009 Growing Onion GreensI sit here writing this blog post on the first full day of Spring 2010. Wow, I never thought I’d still be writing about our Spring 2009 garden! In it, we planted onions; and they have been going strong through the wettest, harshest winter we’ve had since we’ve lived here in Central Texas. I had picked all of the green onion stems off of the onions last summer in order to dry them in our solar food dehydrator, and decided to leave the remaining onions in the ground and pick them as needed as we entered into Fall. In actuality, once everything else in the garden had come to its natural end, I forgot to go out and pick the onions much of the time. Then, mid-way through winter, Dave noticed there were green onion stems (aka: scallions) that had grown back long and healthy. Boy, talk about a gift that keeps on giving!

One recent evening I went out and pulled several onions when my supper dish recipe called for it. These bulbs are much smaller than regular onions you buy in the store, but the taste is delicious and robust. I was pleased and surprised with how well the onions had survived through Winter, and with the bright, healthy color and texture that had been maintained:

Garden 2009 Picked and Clipped Onions

You really do get two vegetables for the price of one with these onions. The green onion stems are potent with their own milder onion taste. They also looked green and very healthy. It’s amazing how some garden vegetables are so fragile when severe weather comes; and others, like these green onions, seem to thrive:

Garden 2009 Picked and Clipped Onion Greens

I didn’t want to waste any of the green onions, and the weather we have been getting has been too overcast to use the solar food dehydrator much of the time, so I decided to put them in the oven overnight to slow dry. I cleaned and cut up the green onions and put them on a pizza pan sheet, set the oven to 150 degrees (or thereabouts), and left them overnight. They needed to stay in the oven a bit longer the next morning; but the end result was delicious, crispy, preserved green onion bits! I have since used them in a few various dishes; and it adds a nice, subtle onion flavor:

Garden 2009 Dried Onion Green Bits

We never tire of giving our Father thanks for His direct provisions. And we pray He grant us strength, resilience and growth through times of the spiritual winters of His chastisement, affliction, or the lessening of His presence to teach us to desire Him more.


Providence’s Perpetuation Provisions: New Kids “George” and “Gracie”

For our breeding scheme this year, we previously discussed our separating out our older does to be with our main buck Shatner, and the younger does, his female offspring, to be with Eastwood, a goat we traded one of our triplet bucks for. Well, there have been a couple of updates: first, Eastwood died during the Winter; so we borrowed a buck from our neighbor. He’s apparently pure Spanish, and we call him John Buck (think what you might call an unknown female goat 🙂 ) :

Spanish Goat Buck Borrowed for Breeding

We had put the bucks with our does in the beginning of November so they would give birth no earlier than April, where they should be mostly out of the cold. Well, Sue was out near the goats the other day, and she heard a very young sounding bleat. Umm…huh? She went to see what was going on, and lo and behold, our doe Pammy had given birth to twins! While quite surprising, we were both very thankful to find out God had granted us two new goats — a male and a female. We decided to call them George and Gracie, and here is your introduction to them:

New Goats George and Gracie with their Mother Pammy

And here is a video:

As I briefly mentioned in the video, last year, when Winnie had her triplet bucks, the middle one, Porthos, seemed to often have physical problems, from pink eye to swollen front knees. And he was smaller than his brothers, and so we kept him with Winnie much longer than we did the others, so he could continue to have her milk. Well, apparently we kept him in too long, as nearest we can figure, he is the father of the new kids. Porthos has grown up to be about as big has his younger brother now, and seems to have also matured normally. 🙂 Even though this is a possible situation of some in-breeding, which we were trying to avoid, since it’s Pammy it’s not too bad as the worst Porthos might be is Pammy’s nephew; with Betsy, she’s of a whole different line, so if Porthos got to her as well, it’s fine. However, he may have gotten to his mom, Winnie; we’re hoping not, but I guess we’ll have to see what happens. And now we know better for the future.

We are grateful for the Lord, in His graces and mercies, granting us these new provisions; and we pray that He might grant they be productive members of the herd, according to His will.

— David


A House – Update V – Homemade Termite Shields

In studying on how to build a pier and beam foundation, and how to prevent against termites, I learned that there are termite shields available to put on top of a concrete pier. Well, I wasn’t able to obtain any locally; so I thought I might try to make them myself. The following is the process of how I did that:

Since flashing is galvanized, which again helps against rust, I figured that would be a good material to use. I purchased 20″ flashing, and cut it into squares:

Cutting the Flashing for the Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

Since they had to fit over a 5/8″ bolt sticking out of the concrete pier, I drilled two 3/8″ holes next to each other in the center of the flashing squares; and I was able to drill three squares at a time easily:

Drilling the Center Hole for the Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

Since the two drilled holes were next to each other, and given the size of the pier’s bolt, I had to cut out the center hole a bit:

Cutting Out the Drilled Center Hole in the Flashing for the Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

Here is the flashing pushed onto the pier. I usually had to work it down onto the bolt. Before putting it on, I sprinkled on some Seven termite powder because I heard that was a good thing to do, but my guess is the weather has removed most of it by now:

Flashing for the Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield Set in Place on the Pier

After placing the beam bracket on the shield over the bolt and finger tightening the nut down to hold the flashing in place, I folded the sides down to crease the flashing, and began to form it into its final shape. I originally tightened the bolt down all the way on quite a few of them, but realized that bent the brackets in the middle, which wouldn’t have allowed the beam to sit flat on them:

Folding the Sides of the Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

On opposite sides of the pier, and starting several inches in from the side edge of the flashing, I cut the folded flashing from the lower edge to a point where two perpendicular creases met in a line, creating a square out of two flashing edges and a cut edge; and I did this for all four corners:

Cut Sides of Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

Then I positioned myself on one side where I had made the cuts, reached around the other side of the pier, and tucked in underneath the opposite side of the flashing the cut edges in each of my hands:

Folding the First Cut Sides of the Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

And then I folded the other sides on top of the tucked-in cut sides:

Folding the Final Cut Sides of the Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

I didn’t want to leave the sides of the termite shield loose like that, so I decided to use rivets to fasten the corners in place. They are aluminum (again, to help against rust problems), and I chose 3/16″ short fastener rivets. I took a 2×4 and put it behind a folded corner to support the pressure of drilling; and using one hand, I closed the corner tightly around the 2×4. I then drilled a 3/16″ hole through the flashing in the corner of the overlapped flashing, and another hole in the corner of the folded-under flashing:

Drilling a Rivet Hole in the Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

I then set the rivet in place…

Setting the Rivet in the Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

…and squeezed the rivet tool several times until the stem of the rivet cut off:

Using Rivet Tool on Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

And here is the completed rivet:

Completed Rivet on Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

This is the completed termite shield:

Completed Concrete Pier Homemade Termite Shield

And here are all of the piers with all of their termite shields in place. No mind control for these concrete piers! 🙂

Concrete Piers with All Termite Shields Complete

We’re thankful to the Lord for His provisions, and for the idea and ability to put these together.

— David

David’s Digest: Walmart-Jireh

Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines the word “provider” in the following way:

PROVI’DER, n. One who provides, furnishes or supplies; one that procures what is wanted.

I’d like to ask a few questions:

Who or what is the provider of your water? If you pay to get your water piped into your house, the company that does that is your provider.

Who or what is the provider of your food? If you go to a grocery store, the grocery store is (along with every part of the chain involved in getting it there).

Who or what is the provider of your clothing? If you get it from a retail store, the store and the manufacturers are.

I could go on; but if you’re paying someone or some entity for you to have the necessities of life, then by the definition above, they are your provider.

If you’ve placed a middle man between you and God’s direct provisions, then in reality you no longer look to God for His providence — you look to the middle man. Don’t believe that? If your water stopped flowing from the faucet in your house, what would you do? You’d call the water company — your water provider. If you would starve without the nearest grocery store having food to buy, then it is your provider.

To whom you look for your life provisions, they are your provider.

Gen 22:13-14 – “13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh [the Lord will see/provide]: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” (see John Gill’s commentary on vs. 14)

God provided the ram for the sacrifice, and we are to look to Him alone as our provider.

Spiritual Provisions

God providing temporily is really a “type” of His spiritual provisions (we eat bread — He is the bread of life (John 6:35); we drink water — He gives the water of life (John 4:14); etc.) In the same way God provided the ram above (also as a type), He provided a Sacrifice, a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, for His people; and we are to look to Him alone for salvation.

Further, God is the only source for all other spiritual provisions, such as spiritual graces, as the heart of man is desperately wicked; and everyone is dead in their sins until God, by His own sovereign will, graces and mercies, breathes new life into them. Did you conjure up your own free-will faith to believe in God, and that’s why He saved you? Then YOU were the provider of your faith (and thus your salvation??!!) Do you pull yourself up by your bootstraps, have “power thoughts” for courage and strength, and declare you’re going to be meek and humble and not let the things of life get you down? Then YOU are the provider of your Christian graces.

The Bible says otherwise, and prevents any man from boasting of providing his own faith and spiritual graces.

And so, in the end, who is your provider?

— David