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.

Category: mortification (Page 1 of 2)

David’s Digest: Don’t Be a CHRINO

I believe Scripture defines two kingdoms on earth: the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world, influenced by Satan:

Mark 1:14-15 – “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Eph 2:2 – “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience

I also believe the following implies that time is a factor of servitude. For example, when one spends time pursuing either mammon or God, they are serving one or the other:

Matt 6:24 – “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Besides mammon, I believe generally the activities of our lives that we can engage in fall into being a part of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of the world; and, like mammon, if it is part of one, it cannot be part of the other. If we were to list all the activities in our lives throughout the week and categorize them honestly as being part of the kingdom of God or the kingdom of the world, in what kingdom would they end up?

How much of our lives is spent participating in, and thus serving, the kingdom of the world; and therefore, how much of our lives is spent not in the service of Christ and following Him? And then are we actually servants of Christ?

To use the political vernacular of the day, are we just CHRINOs — Christians in name only?

It is possible to say we are Christians and not be:

Matt 7:21-23 – “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

James 2:19-20 – “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

1 John 4:20 – “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

Judas was a Christ-follower, but externally only and not in his heart truly. (You can listen to an excellent sermon on Judas being a Christian in name only here.)

 

Christianity isn’t something we do — it’s who we are. We shouldn’t fit Christianity into the rest of the things in our lives — the rest of the things in our lives should fit into our Christianity, directed by the Word of God, the Bible.

 

How is our Lord’s Day keeping? Is the day — the whole day — kept holy, set apart for the worship of Christ and religious exercises? Here is what Puritan Thomas Watson said in part regarding the 4th Commandment, which you can listen to here, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, or all the commandments in their entirety:

Use one. See here the Christian’s duty, “to keep the Sabbath-day holy.”

(1) The whole Sabbath is to be dedicated to God. It is not said, Keep a part of the Sabbath holy but the whole day must be piously observed. If God has given us six days, and taken but one to himself, shall we grudge him any part of that day? This would be sacrilege. … Let those who say, that to keep a whole Sabbath is too Judaical, show where God has made any abatement of the time of worship; where he has said, you shall keep but a part of the Sabbath; and if they cannot show that, it robs God of his due. That a whole day be designed and set apart for his special worship, is a perpetual statute, while the church remains upon the earth, …

(2) As the whole Sabbath is to be dedicated to God, so it must be kept holy. …

If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable: and shall honor him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words.” Isaiah 58:13. Here is a description of rightly sanctifying a Sabbath.

“If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath.” This may be understood either literally or spiritually. Literally, that is, if you withdraw your foot from taking long walks or journeys on the Sabbath-day. So the Jewish doctors expound it. Or, spiritually, if you turn away your affections (the feet of your soul) from inclining to any worldly business.

“From doing your pleasure on my holy day.” That is, you must not do that which may please the carnal part, as in sports and recreations. This is to do the devil’s work on God’s day.

“And call the Sabbath a delight.” Call it a delight, that is, esteem it so. Though the Sabbath is not a day for carnal pleasure, yet holy pleasure is not forbidden. The soul must take pleasure in the duties of a Sabbath…

“Not doing your own ways.” That is, you shall not defile the day by doing any servile work.

“Nor finding your own pleasure.” That is, not gratifying the fleshly part by walks, visits, or recreations.

“Nor speaking your own words.” That is, words unsuitable for a Sabbath; vain, impertinent words; discourses of worldly affairs.

 

Now, how about the rest of our lives? How do our lives compare to the following?

From AW Pink’s “A Fourfold Salvation”, part 3 on “Salvation from the Power of Sin“:

But not only must the new nature be fed, it is equally necessary for our spiritual well-being that the old nature should be starved. This is what the apostle had in mind when he said, “Make not provision for the flesh, unto the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14). To starve the old nature, to make not provision for the flesh, means that we abstain from everything that would stimulate our carnality; that we avoid, as we would a plague, all that is calculated to prove injurious to our spiritual welfare.

Not only must we deny ourselves the pleasures of sin, shun such things as the saloon, theatre, dance, card-table, etc., but we must separate ourselves from the worldly companions, cease to read worldly literature, abstain from everything upon which we cannot ask God’s blessing.

Our affections are to be set upon things above, and not upon things upon the earth (Col. 3:2).

Does this seem a high standard, and sound impracticable? Holiness in all things is that at which we are to aim, and failure to do so explains the leanness of so many Christians. Let the young believer realize that whatever does not help his spiritual life hinders it.

 

Or this, from J.C. Ryle’s Holiness book (Chapter 19, which you can listen to here, Part 1, Part 2, or in its entirety):

I must honestly declare my conviction that, since the days of the Reformation, there never has been so much profession of religion without practice, so much talking about God without walking with Him, so much hearing God’s words without doing them, as there is in England at this present date. Never were there so many empty tubs and tinkling cymbals! Never was there so much formality and so little reality. The whole tone of men’s minds on what constitutes practical Christianity seems lowered. The old golden standard of the behaviour which becomes a Christian man or woman appears debased and degenerated.

You may see scores of religious people (so-called) continually doing things which in days gone by would have been thought utterly inconsistent with vital religion. They see no harm in such things as card-playing, theatre-going, dancing, incessant novel-reading, and Sunday-travelling, and they cannot in the least understand what you mean by objecting to them! The ancient tenderness of conscience about such things seems dying away and becoming extinct, like the dodo. When you venture to remonstrate with young communicants who indulge in them, they only stare at you as an old-fashioned, narrow-minded, fossilized person and say, “Where is the harm?” In short, laxity of ideas among young men, and “fastness” and levity among young women, are only too common characteristics of the rising generation of Christian professors.

Now in saying all this I would not be mistaken. I disclaim the slightest wish to recommend an ascetic religion. Monasteries, nunneries, complete retirement from the world, and refusal to do our duty in it, all these I hold to be unscriptural and mischievous nostrums. Nor can I ever see my way clear to urging on men an ideal standard of perfection for which I find no warrant in God’s Word, a standard which is unattainable in this life, and hands over the management of the affairs of society to the devil and the wicked. No; I always wish to promote a genial, cheerful, manly religion, such as men may carry everywhere and yet glorify Christ.

 

Or this, from Puritan Thomas Manton:

John 17:16 – “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

2. Observe again, an excellent means to digest the world’s neglect is to consider the example of Christ. It is our duty, it will be for our comfort, and it turneth to our profit.

1. It is our duty. In his example we have a taste of his Spirit: ‘I am not of the world,’ said Christ; and we should ‘ imitate Christ as dear children,’ Eph. v. 1. They that love to live in delight and pleasures are but christians in name. If we had no other reason to contemn the vanity of the world than the life of Christ, this were enough. Who was wisest, Christ or you ? Who can make the better choice, Christ or you? Who is in error, Christ or you? Christ chose a poor life, and you affect [work to acquire] greatness.

 

Claiming to be a Christian and not living as one can also be taking the Lord’s name in vain. If we say we are Christians, we take the name of Christ as ours (like when a new wife takes her husband’s surname).

For example, besides potentially swearing falsely, Puritan commentator Matthew Henry suggests the following is one of the ways of taking God’s name in vain:

Prov 30:7-9 – “7 Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die: 8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: 9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.

Lest I should steal, and take the name of my God in vain, that is, discredit my profession of religion by practices disagreeable to it.

 

And here is Thomas Watson on the 3rd Commandment (which you can listen to in its entirety here) giving his explanations of some of the ways we can take the Lord’s name in vain:

Exo 20:7 – “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

[2] We take God’s name in vain, when we profess God’s name but do not live answerably to it, we take it in vain. They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him, Titus 1:16. When men’s tongues and lives are contrary to one another, when, under a mask of profession, they lie and deceive, and are unclean, they make use of God’s name to abuse him, and take it in vain. “Pretended holiness is merely double wickedness.” “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”, Rom 2:24. When the heathen saw the Jews, who professed to be God’s people, to be scandalous, it made them speak evil of God, and hate the true religion for their sakes.

[4] We take God’s name in vain, when we worship him with our lips but not with our hearts. God calls for the heart, “My son, give me your heart.”, Prov 23:26. The heart is the chief thing in religion; it draws the will and affections after it, as the Primum Mobile [the outermost moving sphere that carried the others with it in the geocentric view of the universe] draw the other orbs along with it. The heart is the incense which perfumes our holy things. The heart is the altar which sanctifies the offering. When we seem to worship God but withdraw our heart from him, we take his name in vain. “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain.”, Matthew 15:8-9

Hypocrites take God’s name in vain: their religion is a lie; they seem to honor God but they do not love him; their hearts go after their lusts [generally, any corrupt desires of the heart]. “They set their heart on their iniquity.”, Hos 4:8. Their eyes are lifted up to heaven but their hearts are rooted in the earth, Ezek 33:31. These are devils in Samuel’s mantle.

Superstitious people take God’s name in vain. They bring him a few ceremonies which he never appointed, bow at Christ’s name and cringe to the altar but hate and persecute God’s image.

 

Further, do we have oil in our lamps, or are we just holding empty ones?

Is our true purpose in life God and His glory alone?

Is our eye single toward Christ? Are our treasures, and thus our hearts, on things of this world, or Christ Himself and heavenly things?

And finally, are we ravished with the beauty of Christ? Do we wish to be in His presence more each day, in prayer now and in person in heaven one day? Is he our all?

The Song of Solomon is an allegory of the relationship between Christ and His bride, the Church. If you’ve never read through it with that in mind, I would encourage you to do so. And here are other excellent sermons, focusing on some of this relationship, and the Church’s desire, and those individuals that make up the bride of Christ, for Christ, the excellency it (the Church) and they (the individuals) see in Him, and its and their desire for communion with Him:

I believe the kingdom of Christ is real, here, and now, and is not yoked with the kingdom of the world; and those that take the name of Christ I believe should strive to live life in and focused on Christ and His kingdom, participating much in heavenly things, purposing all things for God’s glory, separated as much as possible from the world’s kingdom and its accoutrements.

May God grant us a desire for the things of the world to die to us, and may He grant that they indeed do!

Your main and principal motive as a Christian should always be to live for Christ. To live for glory? Yes, but for his glory. To live for comfort? Yes, but be all your consolation in him. To live for pleasure? Yes, but when you are merry, sing psalms, and make melody in your hearts to the Lord. To live for wealth? Yes, but to be rich in faith. You may lay up treasure, but lay it up in heaven.

– Charles Spurgeon

1 John 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Rom 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Psa 73:25-26 – “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Phil 4:8 – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

— David

David’s Digest: You Must Deny Yourself

Matthew 16:24 – “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

By nature, we are all self-centered. Every sin has some idolatry in it, where we are self-gods (ie. God said to do or not do something, and in a certain way, and we say, “No, I know better”, which is defacto saying we will not have God be our God, but ourselves). The original sin was to be God (while the temptation was to “be as gods”, Gen 3:5, in the end, since only one God can exist at a time by definition, the reality was that they wanted to be God).

According to the above verse, we are required to deny ourselves to be a disciple of Christ. Then, it seems it would follow that we really cannot be good Christians with each other without it either, which makes sense from experience as well.

Along the lines with how important I believe Jonathan Edwards’ Charity and Its Fruits as sort of being part of “Christianity 101”, that every person claiming the name of Christ should attend to, I believe Thomas Manton’s A Treatise of Self-Denial is right up there along with it.
And so, to help make it available in audio format for those who might rather listen than read, I recently finished recording the entire treatise, which you can access as one of our Readings pages here:

A Treatise of Self-Denial

And if you want to read it, you can find it here: https://www.monergism.com/treatise-self-denial-free-ebook

I cannot emphasize how important I believe Mr. Manton’s exposé is. We hope you’ll take the time to go through it, and may God guide your studies.

— David

David’s Digest: Bridle the Tongue

James 1:26 – “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

This little member of our body can do so much damage and be so abominable — from blasphemies to slanders. And so, it is important it be bridled.

Puritan Thomas Manton in his most excellent work “A Practical Commentary, or an Exposition with Notes, on the Epistle of James” explains why he believes James felt this was important to include.

You can listen to all of verse 26 here:


or download it:
Download

The entire book is available here: https://ia800904.us.archive.org/2/items/apracticalcomme01mantgoog/apracticalcomme01mantgoog.pdf, and this section starts on PDF page 167 (in the print, page 148), or you can get it in other formats here

…or you can listen to the entire book on this page:
Thomas Manton – James Commentary

From Thomas Manton:

Verse 26. – If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 

The apostle, having showed the blessedness of those which are doers of the word, lest any should seem to challenge a share in it to whom it doth not belong, he discovers who are hearers only and not doers of the word; men that do allow themselves in any known sin; and he instances in the evils of the tongue.

Question: Before I open the words any further, I shall inquire why James does pitch so much weight upon this one particular, it seeming so inconsiderable in itself, and it having so little respect to the context?

Answer: The reasons assigned in the answer will afford us so many notes.

Reason 1.

Because this is a chief part of our respect to our neighbour; and true love to God will be manifested by love to our neighbour. They do not usually detract from others, whom God hath pardoned. He that said, “Thou shalt love God,” hath also said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour.” Though the object be diverse, yet the ground for obedience is the same.

Therefore the apostles usually bring this argument to unmask and discolour hypocritical persuasions: as, “He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even till now” (1 John ii. 9). So, “If he shut up his bowels from his brother, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1 John iii. 17, 18.) How can it be imagined that those that are sensible of the love of God, should be merciless towards others? So, “He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John iv. 20.) The good and attractiveness that are in others is an object of the senses, and usually they make a strong impression. Well then, do not flatter yourselves with duties of worship in the neglect of duties of commerce.

Reason 2.

Because of the natural proneness that is in us to offend with the tongue. Censuring is a pleasing sin, extremely compliant with nature. How propense the nature of man is to it, I shall show you in the third chapter. Speech is the discovery of reason: corruption soon runs out that way.

Well then, watch over it; the more natural corruptions are, the more care should we use to suppress them: “I will take heed to my ways, that I offend not with my tongue” (Psa. xxxix. 1); there needs special caution for that: and, as you should watch, so you should pray, and desire God to watch over your watching: “Set a watch before my mouth, keep the door of my lips” (Psa. cxli. 3). The awe of God is a great restraint.

Reason 3.

Because it was the sin of that age; as appears by his frequent dissuasives: see verse 19. So chapter iii. per totum. So chapter iv. 11, etc. The note is, it is an ill sign to be carried away with the evil of the times. It is a description of wicked men that they “walked according to the course of this world” (Ephes. ii. 2): in the original, according to the age, as the manner of the times went.

So, “Be not conformed to this world” (Rom. xii. 2); or “to this age”; the meaning is, do not get into the garb of the times. So, “He walked after the trade of Israel” (2 Chron. xvii. 4). Many do so; they walk after the fashion and trade of the country and times wherein they live. Oh consider, this is the sure note of a vain [useless] profession. Sins, when they grow common, become less odious; and therefore slight spirits commit them without remorse.

Reason 4.

Because it seems so small a sin; and, having laid aside grosser sins, they did the more securely continue in the practice of it. They were not adulterers, drunkards; and, therefore, flattering themselves with a show of holiness, they did the more freely censure and detract from others. Note, indulgence in the least sin cannot stand with grace: your religion is vain, if you do not refrain your tongue.

They are miserably mistaken that hope to redeem their souls from the guilt of one sin by abstaining from the practice of another. Some are precise in small things, that they may be excused for non-observance of the weightier things of the law; as the stomach when it cannot digest solid food, naturally desires to fill itself with water, or such light stuff as breeds nought [nothing] but wind. The Pharisees tithed mint and cummin, etc. Others avoid grosser sins, and hope that it is an excuse for other corruptions that are not so odious. We all plead, “Is it not a little one, and my soul shall live?”

Reason 5.

Because this is usually the hypocrite’s sin. Hypocrites, of all others, are least able to bridle their tongue; and they that seem to be religious, are most free in censuring.

Partly because, being acquainted with the guilt of their own spirits, they are most apt to suspect others. Nazianzen said of his father, he being of an innocent and candid soul, was less apt to think evil of others; and he gives this reason, goodness is least suspicious, and plain hearts think all like themselves.

Partly because they use to be much abroad [observing others], that are so little at home their own hearts]. Censuring is a trick of the Devil, to take off the care from their own hearts; and therefore, to excuse indignation against their own sins, their zeal is passionate in declaiming against the sins of others. Gracious hearts reflect most upon themselves: they do not seek what to reprove in others, but what to lament in themselves.

Partly because they are not so meek and gentle as true Christians. When a man is sensible of his own failings, he is very tender in reflecting upon the weaknesses of others: “Ye which are spiritual, restore him with meekness” (Gal. vi. 1): they which are most spiritual, are most tender to set a fallen Christian “in joint” again.

Partly because a hypocrite is a proud person; he would have every one to be his own foil, and therefore he blemishes others. Diotrephes would be prating against John, “because he loved the pre-eminence” (3 John 9).

Partly because hypocrites are best at their tongue, and therefore cannot bridle it. When men make religion a talk, their way is to blemish others: it is a piece of their religion.

The Lord give you to discern into your own souls, whether these dispositions be not in you, or no.

Reason 6.

Because there is such a quick intercourse between the tongue and the heart, that the tongue is the best discovery of it; and therefore (says the apostle) is their religion vain, if they cannot bridle their tongues. Seneca said, that the speech is the express image of the heart; and a greater than he said, “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.”

The quality of many men’s religion may be discerned by the intemperateness of their language; words are but the excrements and overflow of their wickedness. A man may soon discern of what religion they are (says Pareus of the Jesuits) that, like angry curs, cannot pass by one another without snarling.

May God grant us a sense of our own sins, a tenderness to the failings of others, a hatred of the least sin, and help in the watch over the small member of our body that can do so much evil!

James 3:1-8: My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

3 Behold, we put bits in the horses’ mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

— David

David’s Digest: As a Child

Matt 18:3-4 – “3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Christ said one does not enter into heaven unless they become as a child. Very serious! But what does that mean?

Puritan Thomas Manton gives what I believe is an insightful examination of this, based on Psalm 131, the full text of which you can read here:

Psalm 131

1 Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.

2 Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child.

3 Let Israel hope in the Lord from henceforth and for ever.

From Thomas Manton:

Now let us open the similitude, and show wherein it holdeth good. David behaved himself, and quieted himself – (1.) As a child ; (2.) As a weaned child.

1. As a child. A child is not troubled with ambitious thoughts: Mat. xviii. 3, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children,’ etc. A little child knoweth not what striving for state [status] meaneth. The inclinations and desires of carnal ambition are very contrary to the christian temper, namely, seeking after dominions, dignities, and honours.

So Christ would confute his disciples’ pride; as if he had said, You strive for worldly greatness and preeminence in my kingdom; but my kingdom is a kingdom of babes, and containeth none but the humble, and such as are little in their own eyes, and are contented to be small and despised in the eyes of others, and to look not after great matters in the world. Thus would Christ take them off from the vain ambition and pursuit of esteem and worldly honour, and the expectations of a carnal kingdom.

And is it not necessary still that we should become as little children? A great part of the work of grace is to take down our pride, and make us little in our own eyes. We should all prove ourselves to be children of God by the lowliness of our hearts and sobriety of our carriage, and submission to all God’s dispensations, and desire no higher condition than God would bring us into by the fair invitation of his providence. We must put ourselves into the posture of a feeble impotent child, without ambition, without covetousness, looking wholly to be directed, supported, and enabled by God.

2. Why as a weaned child.

[1.] A weaned child is taken off from the breast and its natural food; so when the Lord is pleased to withhold from us what we expected, and to keep us in a low and afflicted condition, we must patiently submit to God’s will and pleasure, and be contented to be what God will have us to be. Oh, how well were it for us if we were weaned from the world’s breasts! Certainly then temptations would be plucked up by the roots. How easily should we please God, and press on to everlasting glory, worldly and fleshly lusts [desires] mortified! By some bitterness or other the weaned child is driven from the breast, and it useth it no more.

Oh, that a christian were as soon weaned from the world, and might grow dead to the honours, riches, and pleasures of it! and could say with the apostle, ‘I am crucified to the world, and the world is crucified to me,’ Gal. vi. 14.

Few are taken off from the dug [udder, teat] by the bitterest wormwood that can be laid upon it; they are still sucking here, though they suck but wind; and, after many disappointments, still return to the love of the world, as their natural milk. It is a prodigy for a child to keep sucking till thirteen or fourteen years; we are as greedy at fifty or sixty years as we were before. The world by nature is sweet to us; the bitterness of affliction doth not wean us from it; and after all the warnings that we cannot love the Father if we love the world, 1 John ii. 15, yet we love the world still. In death it is made bitter to us, for then the world passeth away, and the lusts [desires] thereof; then we cry out on the world, how it hath deceived us, and tempted this rebelling flesh to neglect God and higher duties. But then it is questionable whether we are weaned or driven from the dug [udder, teat]. Surely it becometh us to be weaned sooner.

[2.] The weaned child can do nothing for itself, but is provided for by the care of another; so should we look upon ourselves as a most feeble and impotent child, able to do nothing of ourselves; but after we have weaned ourselves from our natural affections and desires, wholly be sensible of our necessities, emptiness, and weakness to shift [move, even slightly] for ourselves, leaving all to God: Ps. xl. 17, ‘I am poor and needy, but the Lord thinketh upon me.’ We may be despised of the world and contemned of the world, but that doth not make us loathsome to God. Yea, the lower we are brought, the more is his care engaged for us. The empty, the destitute, who have not the dug [udder, teat] to live upon, are devolved upon the Lord, that he may take care of them.

[3.] Though the weaned child have not what it would have, or what it naturally most desireth, the milk of the breast, yet it is contented with what the mother giveth; it rests upon her love and provision. So are we to be content with what providence alloweth us: Heb. xiii. 5, ‘Let your conversation [behavior/life] be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have;’ and Phil. iv. 11, ‘I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.’ Whatever pleaseth our heavenly Father should please us.

The child that is put from the breast to an harder diet is yet contented at last. The children of princes know not what the swelling of pride, the honour of the world meaneth. The child doth not prescribe what it will eat, drink, or put on. They are in no care for enlarging possessions, heaping up riches, aspiring after dignities and honours, but meekly take what is provided for them.

[4.] The child, when he has lost the food which nature provideth for it, is not solicitous, but wholly referreth itself to the mother, hangeth upon the mother. So for everything whatsoever should we depend upon God, refer ourselves to God, and expect all things from him: Ps. lxii. 5, ‘My soul, wait thou upon God; my expectation is from him.’ With such a simplicity of submission should we rest and depend upon God.

Let us take heed of being overwise and provident for ourselves, but trust our Father which is in heaven, and refer ourselves to his wise and holy government.

Thus you see here is a perfect emblem –

(1.) Of self-denial; for the child is weaned, taken off from what it most affects [fancies]. So we must not look to be satisfied in our childish will and appetite; we must be weaned, and put from the breast to an harder diet.

(2.) Of humility, or a sense of our impotency and nothingness; for the child cannot shift for itself, so neither can we. We are weak and witless all of us, as are little children, and know not what is good for us, nor how to provide it, but are merely cast upon the care of another.

(3.) Contentedness and resignation to the will of God, who is our provider. The more impotent, the more entitled to God’s care.

(4.) Of dependence and quiet recumbency [leaning/resting] on God in any state or condition whatsoever; for we must cast the whole care of affairs upon him.

Oh, happy we if we could thus be children!

May God grant us this child-like humility; may He wean us from and change our desires for the dainties of Vanity Fair — the useless and time-wasting (Eph 5:16) carnal and sense-driven pleasures and riches of the world; and may He grant us resignation, contentedness, thankfulness and trust in Him for how He providentially brings our lives forth during our time here.

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.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

If you’re interesting in going deeper on this, we invite you to go through some series we’ve recorded on YouTube during our holy reading times on Lord’s days:

— David

David’s Digest: It’s Not Salvific!

I’ve heard this before, in the context of how one lives their life. For example, “Oh, you don’t have to live such and such way…it’s not salvific!”

I agree it does not merit anything for salvation. However, salvation is a process. It starts with God’s sovereign act of changing the dead heart to a living one, a passive act on man’s part, and it continues throughout the life of the person, ending in glory. That time in the middle is the sanctification process, something the Holy Spirit does in the life of the individual by making them more holy, or Christ-like, which is by giving the person Christ’s graces, the fruit of the Spirit:

Gal 5:22-23 – “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Faith and love are the main drivers of the Christian, and with those comes obedience to God in His direction in the Bible, and the Bible would have Christians not love the world and not be conformed to it:

1 John 2:15 – “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Rom 12:2 – “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Using the example of how one dresses, the Bible would have Christians dress modestly. And in that modesty, given the world in its view on life and how to live it is one of a Christian’s main enemies (along with Satan and a person’s own carnal man), why would a Christian want to be as close to the way the world dresses, without supposedly stepping over the line, and not be as far away from the way the world does things, like Lot and his family escaping Sodom, not looking back desiring to be closer to it…like Lot’s wife?

So, Christianity requires OBEDIENCE to these commands, which (obedience) stems from love for Christ, which is a fruit of the Spirit, which brings sanctification, in the process of SALVATION!

Further, as I mentioned, a Christian’s enemy is his carnal man, which I believe is a person’s greatest enemy:

1 Pet 2:11 – “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts [desires], which war against the soul;

Our carnal man is at war with the soul. Part of our duty in our Christian walk is to war against our spiritual enemies.

As graces grow, the carnal man is brought lower and lower in the mortification (death-bringing) process of that carnal man. The means of denying the carnal man we have been talking about can help in that process. Again with dress, dressing modestly can help curb pride and vanity, things contrary to God, His nature and holiness. Mortification is a duty of ourselves, and as with graces, it is a work of the Spirit in the sanctification process, for which He uses means. And then, why wouldn’t a Christian want to dress in a way that brings the most mortification of pride and vanity, coming against sin in the strongest way possible?

Why would a Christian feed its enemy? A Christian should not, and ignoring this can be eternally dangerous:

Gal 6:8 – “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

And so, while nothing we do in our lives merits salvation, there are means of sanctification in the salvation process, and it is important for a professing Christian to consider how he/she live their life in light of the Bible’s directions and how Christ lived His.

— David

The North Field & More of The War of the Weeds

On Sue and my area of the land, we have about an 11-acre field. As part of our continued separation from dependence on the world, I’ve wanted to get it into something perennial, where I didn’t have to plow it anymore, or seed it, or what have you. A few years ago, I tried planting B-dahl, but that didn’t work at all. Finally this year, I was really hoping to try again, with some sort of grass, but wasn’t sure what direction to go. I really prayed the Lord might grant that direction. Over time, and through discussions with local grass planters/experts, I decided to go with something that should have been obvious all along, because it works so well out here in drought weather, and is actually hard to get rid of. Although it is given a bad name because of that, and because if you’re not careful, at times of injury to it, it can be toxic to animals, Johnson grass grows really well out here. That seemed perfect for what we were trying to do with that field.

We decided on a cheaper variant, which apparently will cross-pollinate with the Johnson grass, called sorghum almum. On the advice of the seed-seller, we mixed in some millet, because he suggested the sorghum almum might only sprout 50% until going through a winter cold, which apparently helps its seed germinate better, and having things sprout now was important in trying to fend off the weeds growing instead.

After plowing up the field, it was time to plant. I tried using the grain drill, but ended up going through half the seed in just two times around the outer edge of the field. So, I had to go get more seed, and figure out a way we could plant it….which for us ended up being by hand tossing. But, we also needed a way to sort of cover the seed once sown by scattering, and so I threw together a little contraption to drag behind the truck, using our goat shed caddy.

We had originally tried to just drag it as we normally would, but it didn’t really produce a light covering. And so, we tried to go about it a different way.

Here it is wired to the truck, facing in reverse:

Planting Dragging Device Attached to Truck

And then I wrapped a chain around the back to create “fingers”:

Planting Dragging Device Chain Fingers

The chain was held in place by screws:

Chain Fingers Held by Screws

And the dragging chains were wired to created the “fingers”:

Chain Wired Together to Make Dragging Fingers

And here it is ready to go:

Shack Caddy Set Up as Planting Dragging Device

This was Sue’s planting chariot seat while I drove:

Tailgate Seat for Seed Spreading Person

Once planted it was just pray for rain, and that God might bring forth the growth.

God did bring some rains, although in large doses spaced out over time, and He has granted quite a bit of foliage to grow, plants even taller than myself in places.

Pulling Cocklebur Weeds in Sorghum Almum Field
More Pulling Cocklebur Weeds in Sorghum Almum Field

I tried to hire some local grass baler folks to bale up the field but never really got responses from them. But, we’re trying to establish the field in something permanent, and I thought perhaps God was directing with that, so I didn’t really push it — we really need seed to re-plant itself, and perhaps after cutting it down, it wouldn’t re-grow in time, and then we could be having the re-plant it ourselves all over again.

We are very thankful to the Lord for the rains and what He granted in growing the field!

The War of the Weeds

If any of you have been involved in plowing and growing, you’ll know about the weed issue. We have a little nasty weed around here that is very difficult to get rid of called a cocklebur, which are very invasive. Here’s a picture of them:

Row of Cocklebur Weeds

And here’s one I found next to our main pond:

Large Cocklebur Weed

As time went on with the field, it became apparent that they were going to be a problem. In years past, I had hand-pulled all of the cocklebur plants, although one year I let several go. Still, I hadn’t anticipated what we encountered, and that was that just about everywhere where good grass wasn’t growing, cockleburs were.

Arg. And those little devils reproduce themselves many times over, with two seeds in each visual seed, one which can sit dormant for years!

Well, what do to, now with a whole field of good grass as well and given that the cockleburs seed out late August into September, which meant I was on a timer.

And so, I decided to just get out there, and have at it. Yes, pull them by hand…all 11 acres.

I started beginning of July and stayed at it anywhere from 2-4 hours a day starting after morning chores, 4-5 times a week — pretty much all of the time I would be doing other development around the homestead (like working on the house). It’s been grueling at times, but the Lord has helped keep me going.

Pulling filled rows was pretty difficult, being bent over a lot:

Hand Pulling Cocklebur Weeds in Open Area

And while pulling them amidst the sorghum almum plants was slower, it was a bit easier:

Hand Pulling Cocklebur Weeds Amidst Sorghum Almum Plants

Here’s a half-pulled row:

Half Picked Row of Cocklebur Weeds

And fully hand-pulled:

Fully Picked Row of Cocklebur Weeds

It was slow going, but we just kept at it. And thanks to Sue for her getting up there and helping too!

Since I was spending so much time up there, I really was hoping God might 1) glorify Himself through the process in some way, and 2) that He might show me anything He might along the way spiritually. I pulled a lot of weeds, and had a lot of alone time up there, with God, contemplating; and graciously, I was reminded of some things…..

As Christ discussed in the parable of the sower, only the good ground produces a true bearing of fruit. This is spiritually in the heart. A.W. Pink talks much of keeping the heart in his “Heart Work” chapter from his book “Practical Christianity.” Besides the below, I hope you will take the time to read the entire chapter here:

4. To “keep” the heart means to look diligently after its cleansing. Perhaps some of our readers often find themselves sorrowfully crying, “Oh, the vileness of my heart!” Thank God if He has discovered this to you. But, dear friend, there is no sufficient reason why your “heart” should continue to be vile. You might lament that your garden was overgrown with weeds and filled with rubbish; but need it remain so? We speak not now of your sinful nature, the incurable and unchangeable “flesh” which still indwells you; but of your “heart,” which God bids you “keep.” You are responsible to purge your mind of vain imaginations, your soul of unlawful affections, your conscience of guilt.

But, alas, you say, “I have no control over such things: they come unbidden and I am powerless to prevent them.” So the Devil would have you believe! Revert again to the analogy of your garden. Do not the weeds spring up unbidden? Do not the slugs and other pests seek to prey upon the plants? What, then? Do you merely bewail your helplessness? No, you resist them, and take means to keep them under. Thieves enter houses uninvited, but whose fault is it if the doors and windows be left unfastened? Oh, heed not the seductive lullabies of Satan. God says, “Purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8); that is, one mind for Him, and another for self! one for holiness, and another for the pleasures of sin.

But how am I to “purify” my heart? By vomiting up the foul things taken into it, shamefacedly owning them before God, repudiating them, turning from them with loathing; and it is written, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” By daily renewing our exercise of repentance, and such repentance as is spoken of in 2 Corinthians 7:11; “for behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” By the daily exercise of faith (Acts 15:9), appropriating afresh the cleansing blood of Christ, bathing every night in that “fountain” which has been opened “for sin and uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1). By treading the path of God’s commandments: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit” (1 Pet. 1:22).

“Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). How prone we are to be occupied with that which is evanescent, rather than with the things that abide; how ready to gauge things by our senses instead of by our rational powers. How easily we are deceived by that which is on the surface, forgetting that true beauty lies within. How slow we are to adopt God’s way of estimating. Instead of being attracted by comeliness of physical features we should value moral qualities and spiritual graces. Instead of spending so much care, time and money on the adorning of the body we ought to devote our best attention to the developing and directing of the faculties of our souls. Alas, the vast majority of our fellows live as though they had no souls, and the average professing Christian gives little serious thought to the same.

Yes, the Lord “looketh on the heart”: He sees its thoughts and intents, knows its desires and designs, beholds its motives and motions, and deals with us accordingly. The Lord discerns what qualities are in our hearts: what holiness and righteousness, what wisdom and prudence, what justice and integrity, what mercy and kindness. When such graces are lively and flourishing, then is fulfilled that verse, “My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies” (Song of Sol. 6:2). God esteems nothing so highly as holy faith, unfeigned love, and filial fear; in His sight a “meek and quiet spirit” is of “great price” (1 Pet. 3:4).

The sincerity of our profession largely depends upon the care and conscience we have in keeping our hearts. A very searching example of this is found in 2 Kings 10:31, “But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart.” Those words are more solemn because of what is said of him in the previous verse: “And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in Mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according unto all that was in Mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” Jehu was partial in his reformation, which showed his heart was not right with God; he abhorred the worship of Baal which Ahab had fostered, but he tolerated the golden calves which Jeroboam had set up. He failed to put away all the evil.

Ah, my reader, true conversion is not only turning away from gross sin, it is the heart forsaking all sin. There must be no reserve, for God will not allow any idol, nor must we. Jehu went so far, but he stopped short of the vital point; he put away evil, but he did not do that which was good. He heeded not the law of the Lord to walk in it “with all his heart.” It is greatly to be feared that those who are heedless are graceless, for where the principle of holiness is planted in the heart it makes its possessor circumspect and desirous of pleasing God in all things—not from servile fear, but from grateful love; not by constraint, but freely; not occasionally, but constantly.

5. The diligent keeping of the heart is a great aid to the improving of our graces. Grace never thrives in a careless soul, for the roots and habits of grace are planted in the heart, and the deeper they are radicated (cause to take root) there the more thriving and flourishing grace is. In Ephesians 3:17, we read of being “rooted and grounded in love”: love in the heart is the spring of every gracious word of the mouth and of every holy act of the hand. But is not Christ the “root” of the Christian’s graces? Yes, the originating root, but grace is the derivative root, planted and nourished by Him, and according as this thrives under Divine influences, so the fruits of grace are more healthy and vigorous. But in a heart which is not kept diligently those fructifying influences are choked. Just as in an uncared-for garden the weeds crowd out the flowers, so vain thoughts that are not disallowed, and lusts which are not mortified, devour the strength of the heart. “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and with fatness; and my mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: when I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches” (Ps. 55:5, 6).

As I continued pulling out the weeds from the field, I was reminded of a Psalm we were learning to sing as a group end of 2012 to early 2013, God keeping clean His house:

Root up Psalm 52:

Psalm 52

1 Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.

2 The tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.

3 Thou lovest evil more than good; and lying rather than to speak righteousness. Selah.

4 Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue.

5 God shall likewise destroy thee for ever, he shall take thee away, and pluck thee out of thy dwelling place, and root thee out of the land of the living. Selah.

6 The righteous also shall see, and fear, and shall laugh at him:

7 Lo, this is the man that made not God his strength; but trusted in the abundance of his riches, and strengthened himself in his wickedness.

8 But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

9 I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints.

These processes of sanctifying of the heart and God’s house can often be quite disruptive, as I know from experience, and as was typified by how disruptive to the ground pulling some of the weeds were. It was amazing how much dirt often came up with the roots, even tiny weeds. And sadly, sometimes good grass came with the weed, but thankfully the Spirit is assuredly more careful and only what is supposed to come up does when He is working. We pray the Lord grant us His graces and mercies in these things, and thank Him for what He has, and may we heed these exhortations and warnings.

I also continued to be enlightened about my carnal man, in frustrations with weed-pulling difficulties (it never ceased to amaze me how even small cocklebur weeds required the same strength to pull them as weeds twice their size), the heat, and my obvious entitlement in my grumblings that this process should be easier. This gave me opportunity to repent and pray for God to help me exercise His graces of patience and submission to Him more. But, with me removing the “carnal flesh” of the field, it struck me that God might actually be mortifying the weeds of my heart while I was mortifying the weeds of the field. I pray it was so!

In my previous blog post on the war of the weeds, I discussed more about mortification, and recommended a Free Grace Broadcaster on the subject here.

As I mentioned, in the end, my prayer was that God would glorify Himself through the process, and that I might learn something from it as well. But, from a temporal standpoint, in God’s mercies, I was also very thankful for:

– No gnats, flying insects
– Every breeze
– Strength to get through each time
– Seeing the cavalry (Sue) bringing something cool to drink
– Hardly any fire ant problems
– Only the relatively few times of being poked in the eye
– The time alone with the Lord, and myself and continually being reminded of carnal reactions
– No snakes
– The easily-pulled weeds
– The hard-to-pull weeds
– Healing of the many blisters
– No thorns on the weeds
– Easy to identify stems (color and texture)
– The bee swarm that flew over me, hopefully that’s gone on to make a new colony!

Thanks to the Lord for His graces and mercies!

During one of our community work days, while the men helped me with the house ceiling, the ladies and children graciously agreed to help pull weeds in the field.

Community Work Day Ladies & Children Weed Pulling
More Community Work Day Ladies & Children Weed Pulling
Community Work Day Ladies Weed Pulling
Community Work Day Children Weed Pulling
More Community Work Day Children Weed Pulling

Victory!

Victory Over a Weed!

And more victory!

More Victory Over a Weed!

We really appreciate their willingness to help and the sacrifice of their hands with blisters! 🙂

One day I came back from pulling, and found a cocklebur seed in my beard. Nice. But that gave me an idea too…..cockle-beard darts! And here is a video of our first community tournament!


At least we found something fun to do with them! 🙂

Back in the field, sadly, after about seven weeks of hand-pulling, the cockburs began slowly to seed out, and I still had about three to four acres left. And so, I decided it was more important to try to cut down as many as possible before the seeds matured, hopefully late enough to where they wouldn’t grow back; and I got out the gas-powered, hand-push lawn mower, and started chopping them down in between rows where they were most prevalent, with the idea we’d continue to pull out the ones intermixed with the grass.

Some things I did notice: while using the industrial method to handle the weeds, although I cleared rows a lot faster, it was actually harder work physically (ie. it wasn’t really easier), the weeds obviously have the opportunity to grow back (the overall job is done more poorly), and I found I had to concentrate on what I was doing and wasn’t able to focus on godly things. Also, using the mower made it much harder to be discriminate with chopping up the good grass (ie. much more of the good grass got chopped up). These all vs. doing it the slower, patient, agrarian way. I thought those were interesting, and examples of the difference of the two ways of living.

After mowing, we went back to pulling. Sadly by this time, most of the weeds had seeds on them, but we continued with them, placing them in small piles along the row clearings, which we hope to go get over the winter, to bring back to burn. While the mowing actually did seem to stop maybe 2/3 of the cocklebur weeds from growing, that other 1/3 or so were still alive, and re-started to leaf out, so those had to be pulled up now as well.

Interestingly, later in the pulling, the stems seemed to start to harden or something, and I started ending up with splinters in my hands after pulling. Thankfully that was only near the end of the weeding time.

But, about 9 days into October — over 3 months and a week at it, I finally realized that as I was coming from the north, I had reached the place I had left off in the south part — in other words, weed pulling complete! Wow! Actually done! Oddly the next day, I almost had empty nest syndrome, since most days I was focused on getting chores done and getting up to the field, and now I didn’t have to. 🙂

But, excellent! Hopefully we’ll be able to go get those seeded weeds we did pull, and get them out of the field; and hopefully the field will benefit from this process.

And mostly again, my hope and prayer is that God glorified Himself with this, even if it was just to the heavenly realms! And I’m very grateful to the Lord for granting the spiritual lessons and physical strength to get this done!

— David

The Great Black-Eyed Pea Adventure

Our neighbor, Mr. Bunker, planted his large field (about 5 acres) in black-eyed peas this past Spring. It was no small amount to purchase the seed and pay to have the ground plowed and planted. He had every right to keep it all to himself for his family and to have a cash crop. Instead, he graciously opened up the field to our community to come and tend it and reap its harvest together along with his family. We greatly appreciated his offer and spent many hours over several weeks in the Summer sun weeding and then picking the beans when they grew to maturity. It was a great opportunity for our community to learn what it means to come together for a common cause and share God’s bounty as a group. It was also the first major crop for the community to cultivate, so this was a new experience on multiple levels.

I learned many things through the experience. The women and children devoted several community work days towards weeding and tending the field, which turned out to be rich times of work, fellowship and getting to know each other better. Working in the field introduced me to the joys of blisters from the Blister Beetle; and I received my first wasp sting, not to mention the potent burning sting of the Stinging Nettle plant. It also forced me personally to come out of my own little homestead world to focus on a larger cause, and required additional discipline to go out into the field even when I didn’t “feel” like it or when I was really busy with other things.

The Lord did a little weeding of my own heart during this process as well. The Bible says we are to mortify (kill) the flesh (Rom 8:1-13), the carnal (non-spiritual) man of sin, which means we need to examine ourselves for sins of the flesh. At times when I was tired or really hot and sweaty wanting to quit, I had to reel myself back in and remember to be thankful for this opportunity and provision, and to work for Christ’s sake and as unto Him and nobody else. Just as with God’s grace, this provision was being offered undeserved as a gift; but I still had to beat down the flesh and submit myself to what was required to persevere to the end (the harvest). The field was so big it felt very overwhelming at times, when the weeds were growing so fast it was impossible to keep up with them. I could usually only get through one half to one row in a one to two hour time period. During the times when it was just me in that big field, my flesh would say, “It’s just too big. You’re not making a bit of difference. The weeds are going to take over this field, and there won’t be any beans left to harvest.” It was easy to forget that other members in the community were out there at different times doing the same thing, and we were all in it together. I also found myself at times to be even a little resentful that the entire community couldn’t put in more time and were jeopardizing the crop and some deserved more than others because of the different investments of time. The Lord had to remind me (strongly) that this was a REALLY good opportunity to step outside of myself and practice meekness and selflessness. I had to repent of that and remember it was not for myself but for the good of the community. I was saddened and surprised at how quickly my flesh had wanted to take over my spirit.

When it came time to harvest, there was plenty for everyone; and I learned the beans that weren’t picked could be turned back into the soil to nourish it. So no part of the whole process was wasted — another reminder that even when I don’t see the big picture, God does, and is in control and all knowing of every aspect of the situation. I believe the spiritual weeding of my heart truly paralleled the physical, and I praise the Lord for His patience with me to teach me these things. It was a valuable lesson in so many areas of my life, and I’m grateful to Mr. Bunker for his personal sacrifice in order for our community to grow spiritually and physically on individual and corporate levels.

I had not eaten black-eyed peas much growing up in California; it seems like more of a southern food. But I am now sold on growing them to harvest and preserve. Did you know it is a three-for-one crop: in that the first harvest produces long, tasty green beans; the second when they are a little dry, the moist bean could be shelled and preserved; and then at the end of the harvest when the bean pods have all dried up, you can go through again and pick the dried pods to shell and keep the black-eyed peas as a dried bean until you’re ready to cook them, or use them to re-plant. Wow!

Here are a couple of five-gallon buckets from the first green bean stage harvest:

Black-Eyed Pea Green Beans

I was able to pressure can over 20 quarts:

Canned Black-Eyed Pea Green Beans

And here are the dried beans we harvested. It doesn’t look like much, but this represents a lot of food for the two of us:

Dried Black-Eyed Peas in Jars

We thank the Lord again for His direct spiritual and physical provisions and lessons from the experience of this first community crop. I hope I will have grown in spiritual maturity the next time, Lord willing, and pray for God’s blessing on Mr. Bunker and his family for their sacrifice and love for the community.

Susan

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