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: February 2019

February 2019 Community Work Day: Just a Pit-tance

Every month we have community work day on first Wednesday of the month, and this past first Wednesday, we did part day at our place to dig out a fire pit. I thought we might leisurely dig and at least get started on it, but the “crew” busted through it, and we did the whole thing!

But not without the trial often faced when digging holes in the ground in rolling hill country…

It wasn’t too far down, and we hit that rock that’s under this area where we put the house. Not bedrock, or flat rock, or what have you…I’m talking Flintstone-quarry boulders. 😀

Hmm, how to best go about it:

Digging Fire Pit

This one, once uncovered enough, we realized was HUGE. We were able to dig around the edges, and then it was time to bring in Big Red:

Tractor to Pull Out Big Rock

The first pull got the rock to stand up:

Big Rock Stood Up in Fire Pit

And then we had to wrap the chain enough to get it out of the pit:

Wrapping Chain Under Rock

Pulling Big Rock Out of Fire Pit

Big Rock Pulled Out of Fire Pit

Then we were able to cross-wrap the chain under it more, which allowed the rock to be dragged away. This is probably the biggest rock we personally have pulled out of the ground here:

Cross-Wrapping Chain Around Big Rock

Pulling Big Rock Away

Big Rock Pulled Away

And here we are trying to recover the chain. Fun fun! 🙂

Lifting Big Rock to Recover Drag Chain

Then it was on to the others. Thankfully, this rock was the biggest, and so, we were able to continue digging around the rocks and use a breaker bar to lift and loosen them, and then roll them out of the pit. This one I was able to get by myself, but with others I definitely needed help:

Rolling Rock Out of Fire Pit

In the end, we finished the whole thing!

And here are “Williams the Conquerors” claiming victory! 😀 Thanks to the gents for all the help!

Williams the Conquerors

And the final fire-pit product:

Completed Fire Pit

We thank the Lord for granting safety during this time, and we are grateful to Him for granting us this time of fellowship and serving each other, and may He grow us in service to Him and others, as the great Servant showed us when He was here!

Finally, the rocks remind me of something important, from Matthew 23:

3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;

5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:

6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.

8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.

18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower.

20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;

21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

And then Ez 36:22-32:

22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.

23 And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.

24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.

25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.

26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

29 I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you.

30 And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that ye shall receive no more reproach of famine among the heathen.

31 Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall lothe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.

32 Not for your sakes do I this, saith the Lord God, be it known unto you: be ashamed and confounded for your own ways, O house of Israel.

May God grant us a living and not dead, stony heart, cause us to walk in His statutes, and may He make the ground of our hearts rock-free as part of Him helping us persevere under trials and afflictions and bring forth spiritual fruit from us, all so as to sanctify His great name!

— David

David’s Digest: 10 Years of the Broken Idol

I would like to share something personal yet glorious to God. These are what I’ve come to believe about certain things; and I thought I would share them, to indeed give God the glory; to magnify His infinite graces, mercies, faithfulness, goodness, forbearance, and other attributes; and perhaps in the possibility they might help someone else.

Ten years ago today, the Lord granted I stop excessive alcohol drinking….again.

The first was in 1999, where God turned me from living a heathen life to stopping the partying and living for Him, attending church and really seeking Him.

Now, I’ll assume we can all agree that alcohol abuse is a sin:

1 Cor 6:9-10 – “9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 5:19-23 – “19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

I also personally believe that alcohol in and of itself is lawful in the Bible. I don’t want to get into that here, but I do believe it is when done properly.

A little more than 5 1/2 years later, I thought that, since what I thought were the reasons I was drinking before were not a part of my life anymore, it seemed reasonable that I could participate in something biblicly lawful in a lawful way.

Sadly, that ended up not being the case, and eventually after about 4 years, I was participating in it quite unlawfully, to a very bad degree again.

However, once again, the Lord in His infinite mercies, saw fit to help me stop again, and grant repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim 2:5), as it appears.

My sin is ever before me though, especially with the aggravation of living hypocritically (20 years ago I wasn’t trying to live a Christian life while I was drinking, but this time I was), and that at the time I was an elder in this community (which I am not now); and I sadly believe my sin affected not only Sue, but the group in spiritual and temporal ways, even in ways only God knows about. I will forever grieve for all of this. I pray those affected will forgive me, and thanks to those who bore with me, especially Sue, a truly godly woman and wife.

So then I wondered, what happened? How did it get so bad again given the original motivation didn’t seem to be there anymore?

And then I read a book that talked about idols of the heart, and when I got to the one about comfort, I knew that was it. I worshipped comfort — physical, emotional, whatever comfort — and alcohol helped provide that.

Here is one of the Webster’s 1828 definitions of idolatry:

Excessive attachment or veneration for any thing, or that which borders on adoration.

And one for idol:

Any thing on which we set our affections; that to which we indulge an excessive and sinful attachment. An idol is any thing which usurps the place of God in the hearts of his rational creatures.

God is our comfort…

1 Cor 1:3-4 – “3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

…and my desire for comfort was excessive and was put in the place of God. That is plain idolatry. In fact, all sin has idolatry in it, where God says do or do not do this, and we say we know better than God, thus declaring ourselves to be god. It even was the promise for the sin in the garden, to be as God.

God says not to drink alcohol unlawfully, but I said, my desire is to my own comfort, regardless of what you say, God.

How heinous. But sin is heinous, because it’s against a perfectly holy, loving, and good God. And doubly so when we do it even though we say we love God.

And so, my prayer has been that God would remove the idols of my heart, especially because He is the searcher of the heart, and only He knows it perfectly:

Jer 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

1 Chron 28:9 – “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

Psa 44:21 – “Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.

Psa 139:23 – “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

Here is what God says about idols of the heart in Ezekiel 14, and what He will do to those who maintain them:

2 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

3 Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?

4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;

5 That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.

6 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

7 For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the Lord will answer him by myself:

8 And I will set my face against that man, and will make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from the midst of my people; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

9 And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.

10 And they shall bear the punishment of their iniquity: the punishment of the prophet shall be even as the punishment of him that seeketh unto him;

11 That the house of Israel may go no more astray from me, neither be polluted any more with all their transgressions; but that they may be my people, and I may be their God, saith the Lord God.

God is God, regardless. However, if He will be our God, then He alone must be God. Nothing else can be looked upon for our trust, or comfort, or safety, or anything. God is the placeholder for all of these things, and if we do not behave toward Him in that way, we are idolaters.

And so, the first time I stopped drinking, all I did was tear off the tops of the weeds, when in reality, the roots were still there…in my heart.

I know that I can never drink again casually, because for me, it will slowly be building up that idol again, stone by stone. There might not be much to see at first, but eventually, before I’d know it, it would be standing tall once again with me bowing to it. God forbid!

Rom 3:10-12 – “10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.

12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

It is only by God’s graces do we do anything truly spiritual, in matter and in manner. Without Him, we only have our carnal man, and that does no good, nor seeks for God. And so, we need to seek from Him the breaking down of the idols of the heart, for repentance, and for love to Him above all other loves.

While dealing with the struggle against seeking comfort from creation is not a constant with me at this time, I believe that God helps me every single day with this. And while I know I can never drink casually again, that doesn’t mean without His help each moment I would make it, and I fully believe left to myself, I will not. And again, while the struggle is not much on my mind now, I still at times ask Him for help to not drink this day, or thank Him for helping me not drink this day, to be grateful to Him, and to make sure I remember that I am powerless without Him.

Ps 73:25-26 – “25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.

26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

May God grant us that to be true.

I am eternally grateful to the Lord for granting what appears to be repentance, the sight of my heart idols, and what I pray is a true hatred of them and all sin, not because of the consequences, but out of love for Him and the offensiveness they are to the One I love. And I thank Him for the great atoning work of Christ Jesus, forgiveness and cleansing from sin by His precious blood!

Although I certainly do not want to diminish the difficulty of all this — nay, impossibility without God — and your personal struggles with it, and the emotional, psychological and physiological aspects of alcohol dependency, I pray if you’re struggling with these types of things that maybe you’ll consider some of the above.

And most of all, do not ever leave the foot of Christ, in beseeching Him for mercy, help and His graces to live idol-free, especially from the secret ones of your heart.

And He is faithful. In the heart-idol verses from Ezekiel above, He says He afflicts the people so they will be His people and He will be their God. How gloriously gracious and merciful indeed!

Deut 7:9 – “Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Thank the Lord, and may God’s graces and mercies be with you.

— David