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: separation (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: 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: Living in the Darkness

At the fall, all men — Adam and his progeny — were brought into darkness — complete spiritual darkness due to a loss of the spiritual Light of God, which results in complete blindness to spiritual things:

John 1:5 – “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Men are blind to the light of nature that points to God (it does nothing salvific in their lives); and they are blind to Christ, the Light of the world (for some, this is blindness to who He truly is and what He truly did, even if they have a claimed knowledge of Him!). A soul that is not born-again cannot see the kingdom of God:

John 3:3 – “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

which is here now:

Matt 3:1-2 – “1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

and

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

The noted Puritan commentator, Dr. John Gill, says this about the kingdom of God in these verses:

for the kingdom of heaven is at hand: by which is meant not the kingdom of glory to be expected in another world; or the kingdom of grace, that is internal grace, which only believers are partakers of in this; but the kingdom of the Messiah, which was “at hand”, just ready to appear, when he would be made manifest in Israel and enter upon his work and office: it is the Gospel dispensation which was about to take place, and is so called; because of the wise and orderly management of it under Christ, the king and head of his church by the ministration of the word, and administration of ordinances; whereby, as means, spiritual and internal grace would be communicated to many, in whose hearts it would reign and make them meet for the kingdom of glory; and because the whole economy of the Gospel, the doctrines and ordinances of it are from heaven. This phrase, “the kingdom of heaven” is often to be met with in Jewish writings; and sometimes it stands opposed to the “kingdom of the earth”; by it is often meant the worship, service, fear, and love of God, and faith in him: thus in one of their books having mentioned those words, “serve the Lord with fear”: it is asked, what means this phrase, “with fear?” It is answered, the same as it is written, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”; and this is “the kingdom of heaven”.

Here is what he says about seeing the kingdom of God:

And by this phrase our Lord signifies, that no man, either as a man, or as a son of Abraham, or as a proselyte to the Jewish religion, can have any true knowledge of, or right unto, the enjoyment of the kingdom of God, unless he is born again; or regenerated, and quickened by the Spirit of God; renewed in the spirit of his mind; has Christ formed in his heart; becomes a partaker of the divine nature; and in all respects a new creature; and an other in heart, in principle, in practice, and conversation; or unless he be “born from above”, as the word is rendered in John 3:31; that is, by a supernatural power, having the heavenly image stamped on him; and being called with an heavenly calling, even with the high calling of God in Christ Jesus: if this is not the case, a man can have no true knowledge of the kingdom of the Messiah, which is not a temporal and carnal one; it is not of this world, nor does it come with observation; nor can he have any right to the ordinances of it, which are of a spiritual nature; and much less can he be thought to have any true notions, or to be possessed of the kingdom of grace, which lies in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost; or to have either a meetness for, or a right unto the kingdom of glory

Besides God’s kingdom, as Dr. Gill noted, there is the kingdom of this world, over which Satan has rule as prince:

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

Again, Dr. Gill:

according to the prince of the power of the air: which is not to be understood of any supposed power the devil has over the air, by divine permission, to raise winds, but of a posse, or body of devils, who have their residence in the air; for it was not only the notion of the Jews, that there are noxious and accusing spirits, who fly about “in the air” and that there is no space between the earth and the firmament free, and that the whole is full of a multitude of them; but also it was the opinion of the Chaldeans, and of Pythagoras, and Plato, that the air is full of demons: now there is a prince who is at the head of these, called Beelzebub, the prince of devils, or the lord of a fly, for the devils under him are as so many flies in the air, Mt 12:24 and by the Jews called “the prince of spirits”; and is here styled, the Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; by which spirit is meant, not the lesser devils that are under the prince, nor the spirit of the world which comes from him, and is not of God; but Satan himself, who is a spirit, and an evil, and an unclean one; and who operates powerfully in unbelievers, for they are meant by children of disobedience, or unbelief; just as “children of faith” in the Jewish dialect, designs believers; and over these Satan has great influence, especially the reprobate part of them; whose minds he blinds, and whose hearts he fills, and puts it into them to do the worst of crimes; and indeed, he has great power over the elect themselves, while in unbelief, and leads them captive at his will; and these may be said in their unregeneracy to walk after him, when they imitate him, and do his lusts, and comply with what he suggests, dictates to them, or tempts them to.

With the world full of darkness, ruled by Satan, and given that the darkness cannot comprehend the light, it stands to reason that, if you live as part of the world, by its rudiments (Col 2:8 — its economic, political, social, religious systems and principles, etc.), you have surrounded yourself with a barrier of spiritual darkness that hedges AGAINST the Light of the Gospel. You live in a situation where everything around and that has influence on your life RESISTS spiritual Light.

Is that the best for a person who claims the name of Christ? Or perhaps, if you see no problem living as part of a world that is darkness, surrounded and affected by that darkness, then perhaps you are part of that darkness.

Of course, every person is in darkness until God, by His own sovereign will, shines His Light and pushes out the darkness of one’s heart, as the sun does to the darkness of the night every morning; but if the Light is shining, does that mean you plant your garden in a box with no windows?

And so, where can a clearer, less obstructed view of the Light be found? Christ is the Light…

John 8:12 – “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

…the Church is the body of Christ…

1 Cor 10:16-17 – “16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? 17 For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

and

Rom 12:5 – “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

…thus the Bible says that the Church is the light of the world, which is as the moon that reflects the light of the sun onto the earth:

Phil 2:15 – “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world

I submit to you that the proper way a Christian should live is:

  1. separated from the world and its darkness with the world being your provider
  2. separated to living life with the body of Christ, in daily fellowship, under the direct provision of God to supply your needs (Him providing rain, Him providing the increase of plant and animal food, etc.)

This isn’t something you do once or twice a week: it requires the entirety of your life. You need to be AWAY from the DARKNESS and WITH the LIGHT.

I have found this to be true. By living separated from the world in Christian community, I have come to a greater knowledge and understanding of the darkness in my life and heart — my sin and lack of love toward God and the brethren, what it means to love and trust God and to love the brethren (Matt 22:36-40), who Christ is and what it means to be a part of His body, my lack of meekness and humility, and many other areas of spiritual Light. I submit to you that unless you do that, the best you’ll have in your Christian walk is living an unfruitful life; the worst you’ll have is that you never realize that you are actually lost (2 Cor 13:5).

The darkness DOES NOT comprehend the light. And so, by the way you live, how is your comprehension of the Light?

— David

Susan’s Musin’s – Journey Out of False Security

I’ve always been a “what if” person. Wayyyyy back in elementary school, the sixth graders got to go to a week long science/nature camp. And when I was in the second grade, I cried to my mom, “I’ll be too scared to go and leave you for a whole week; I can’t do it!” My mom, bless her heart, had to calm me down and remind me I was only in the second grade and didn’t have to worry about it right then. Well, when I finally got to the sixth grade, I had a non-conformist teacher; and our class got to camp on the beach for a week and study the California Indians; and my mom was able to go as a chaperon. My “worst fear” never materialized. Later on as a senior in high school, I was asked to be a camp counselor to the sixth grade girls at that same science camp; so I got to go after all and made it just fine 🙂

I share that little story to tell you that I have always been that way, even into my adulthood and marriage, even more so because the “what ifs” seemed bigger when I got out on my own. The ultimate (so far) was when Dave and I decided to leave our corporate jobs and families in California and move here to Texas where there were mostly unknowns. (And Texas was one BIG science camp to me with all kinds of bugs, pests, snakes, tornadoes, etc.) Most everything was being taken out from my control, which, looking back so far, has been the best thing that could have happened to me. If you have read our early blog posts, you will know that God had been teaching us from His word about His sovereignty and lovingly growing our faith to be able to make the decision to trust Him and leave everything that we considered “secure” in order to be obedient to how He calls us to live in separation from the world as His children. (2 Cor. 6:14-18; Isaiah 52:11-12; Rev. 18)

As I have learned more about type and shadow in the Bible, I see that physical Israel in the Old Testament is the type of spiritual Israel today. I am very encouraged whenever I think of the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years and all of the miracles God performed (ie: daily manna from heaven (Exodus 16), water from rocks (Exodus 17:1-6), their clothing and shoes never wore out (Deut. 8:1-4), etc.) We’re talking hundreds of thousands of men, women and children with all of their livestock; and God provided for their needs in the desert where there was nothing but His direct provision to sustain them. He provided shade by day and a pillar of light at night (Exodus 13:21,22). God had given them faith enough to step out and leave Egypt in obedience to His command, and He took care of the rest. However, it was because of taking their eyes off of God and His direct protection and provision that they were made to wander in the desert those 40 years before being allowed to enter Canaan (a type of heaven). And only the very few of the original Israelites that had truly and consistently trusted God were permitted to enter Canaan (Numbers 14:30; 32:12). The rest perished in their sin in the desert. The Israelites complained and longed to go back to Egypt because they had grown used to looking to Egypt to supply their needs (Exodus 16:3). Even though they were in bondage to Egypt they looked to it for security and material things instead of looking to God. I believe this is the situation most professing Christians are in today when they look to the world’s systems for sustenance (food, water, protection, care, etc.), but the Bible states this is not what God has commanded for His children to do.

Over the last five years of living here, I have been very tempted to look back to Egypt for my security, but God has taught me in His long-suffering and proven time and time again that He is the one who is in control regardless of the circumstance. As most of you know, we live off grid here and are increasingly learning to look to God for His direct, and I mean direct, provisions. God provides the rain for our water, our food from the ground, and our meat. During bad thunderstorms, tornadoes and in all the seasons, God reminds me in His word that it is He who is in control of the weather patterns and every single strike of lightning (Texas T-storms put the fear of God in me every time). I have also learned that every heart beat is a gift from God and all my days are in His hand and have been foreordained (Psalms 139:16). He also promises rebuke, chastisement and persecution to His children (Hebrews 12) to grow them into maturity; and I am to be perfectly content with only food and raiment (1 Tim. 6:8); so, ultimately, my job is to be obedient and trust in God completely, knowing that He knows what is best for me as His child. So whatever comes my way, it is for my good; and I can have peace in that.

I now look back to the “Egypt” from which God has called us to separate as His children, and the “what-ifs” are much scarier to me now if I think of returning to “Egypt” and trusting in man and its systems rather than God.

Our community has been going through the book of Isaiah recently, and I have been soberly struck by the number of verses in Isaiah and Psalms that talk about trusting in Egypt (the world and its systems) vs. God:

Isaiah 30:1-3: “Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord, that take counsel but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit that they may add sin to sin: That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth: to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt. Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion.”

Isaiah 31:1: “Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!”

Isaiah 31:3: “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is helped shall fall down, and they all shall fail together.”

Psalm 20:7-8: “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.”

Psalm 118:8-9: “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.”

In my firsthand experience of living in the world and depending on its systems for my security, and now living outside the world’s systems in direct dependence upon God for my sustenance, I believe it has become almost impossible in our time to stay in the world and walk hand in hand with it everyday and not be taken into its trust and look to it for security (ie: grocery stores, city water, grid electricity, health care, money, etc.) and thereby not to the God of Israel who is the same yesterday, today and forever. And if I ask myself in which situation God glorifies Himself more, and in which situation my faith is grown more, and where I am drawn closer to God, there is no question. My job is to be obedient to how God has commanded me to live, and He will handle the rest. I pray the Lord continue to turn my face towards Him alone and trust in Him completely.

Susan

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 our water? If we pay to get our water piped into our house, the company that does that is our provider.

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

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

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

To whom we look for your life provisions, they are our 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 we conjure up our own free-will faith to believe in God, and that’s why He saved us? Then we were the provider of our faith (and thus our salvation?!) Do we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, have “power thoughts” for courage and strength, and declare we’re going to be meek and humble and not let the things of life get us down? Then we are the provider of our 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 our provider?

— David

Garden 2008

After last year’s rain, we looked forward in great anticipation to this year’s garden. Plus, after 2 years of planting in rows, we were going to try a different and hopefully improved way of gardening, that being double dug beds. The term “double dug” essentially comes from digging down 2 shovel lengths so as to loosen the soil. This, plus adding compost, supposedly makes it a much better seed bed for growing. Here are some pictures of that process:

Don’t let the smiling face fool you, it’s actually some pretty hard work: 😉

Here’s after both layers are dug, with the bottom layer refilled:

And here is a picture of the “compost” layer with the top layer partially done (our compost pile right now is a definite work in progress):

Here are our first graciously granted provisions of the garden from the before-Spring plantings:

Here are some potato “seeds.” For a typical potato, apparently you can slice off a portion of it, especially a section with an “eye”, plant it sliced-side down, and it will grow. Here is that process on top of the double dug bed’s first and compost layers, with a little dirt on top of that:

Now, supposedly that planting strategy doesn’t work for sweet potatoes, but here is a picture of the current bed, and most of the plants here are sweet potato plantings:

Varmints

This year we faced a new foe in battling garden pests: rabbits. Apparently over the winter, they lived up to their reputation, because we discovered that there were quite a few of them running around. And they found themselves their own personal “Farmers’ Market”, and proceeded to help themselves. Well, sorry Mr. Bunny, you can’t be taking our food; and so, the battle lines were drawn. I was confused as to how they were getting into the garden, given we have 2″x4″ welded wire fencing around it. But I did find some places where the wire was broken; and from us having pet rabbits before, I know they can snake themselves through tight areas.

We started to be on the lookout for them, especially in the mornings or evenings; and the Lord granted my shotgun and me several triumphs, one even in the garden itself. I also began putting up chicken wire around the bottom of the fencing. Over time, it appeared the victory was ours; and we haven’t seemed to have any more trouble with them since.

The Water of Life

Part of moving here was to work on a process of becoming less dependent on the world for its provisioning and to place ourselves directly under God’s providing hand. And so, I had decided that, as the Lord graciously allowed us to set up infrastructure, that, when it seemed that what was needed was going to be available based on normal averages, we would “cut the cord” on that area of world dependence. Well, with the working well and based on the rain “norms” for the area, we had arrived at that point a while back; and I had made a decision that we would in our best efforts live off of water here on the land (even off of the ponds, if necessary), and let God provide as He deemed sufficient.

This year, the Lord in His wisdom has not sent the kind of rain we had last year. This affected not only our catch water, but seems to have our well also, in that, it mostly stopped working except for very little amounts. And so, with ourselves, our chickens, goats, pigs, and new fruit and nut trees (which apparently need to be watered pretty consistently their first year), we had pretty much only our catch water to sustain us (and thankfully Michael allowed the cows back onto his land for the pond that is there).

And so, with the well not working, and given the current amount of water we had, I decided that we had to “pull the plug” on watering the garden. Here is the garden a couple of months ago:

And here it is now:

This is what happens when you don’t have water, which translated spiritually means that this is what happens when you don’t have the living water that comes only from Christ: you die.

As the only catch-water we had was used and got lower and with the well mostly unavailable, it was an interesting time, as the water situation was pretty much constantly in the back of our minds.

However, the Lord is gracious and merciful! He began to replenish our catch-water system and has been faithful to provide for us so that we have been able to continue to live off of His direct provision. Our catch-water tank never ran dry, and we have been able to maintain ourselves, the animals and trees.

Since then too, God has granted us a new catch water source (about which we hope to post soon) that He has graciously filled with some water; and so, I thought that we might have water sources now to be able to try to water some of those garden plants still alive, and we did the other night using the well (which had quite a bit of water in it, given it hadn’t been used in probably over a month).

The Lord is gracious in His provisioning, and we are grateful. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

— David

In a Nutshell

A few months ago I was asked by a cousin I haven’t seen for probably 30 or so years, who had indirectly received our update emails, the following: “Wow! It seems like a huge undertaking that you are doing. What brought you to that decision? We heard that you live off the land and are kind of getting back to how life used to be. We would be interested in hearing all about it.”

“Wow!” back atcha! Explaining some 5 years of doctrinal, belief and worldview changes to someone unfamiliar with the whole process we had been through I thought was something of tall order. However, I tried; and so I post it here, in the hopes someone might benefit from this brief synopsis, which was my reply:

As far as what has brought us to come live this life, that’s something that happened over some time with changes to our doctrinal beliefs and worldview. For people who ask us this kind of question, or even when we’ve tried to explain things to family or friends as we’ve gone along, because they haven’t gone through the same studies, it makes it difficult for them to understand why we are doing what we are. But I’ll give it a shot. And so, several years ago the Lord led us to an understanding and belief in what are typically called the doctrines of grace, which talk much about God’s sovereignty, including over salvation itself (sometimes people call it Calvinism). This is in contrast to what we were brought up believing, which is the more commonly held belief of free-will salvation (also referred to as Arminianism). We came to believe these doctrines of grace to be true, and believing them led to us leaving our current church at the time as it didn’t hold to those beliefs. Through the process of learning about these doctrines, we came in contact with folks who believed them down in Texas. Over time we got to know those people generally over the Internet, and then through visits to Texas. Further over time, one of the beliefs we came to understand is the Bible’s call for Christians to separate themselves from the world and ungodliness unto Christ in Christian community. Through much study over yet more time, we began to believe that God’s prescribed way of living as described in His word (in how His people lived in the past and in most forms of teaching throughout the Bible, including the Lord Jesus’ parables) is an agrarian lifestyle. And so, as the world and its systems of functioning (which include dependence on it for all of our necessities, including food [grocery stores], clothing [department stores], electricity and water provided by the government, etc.) began to appear more ungodly to us, and since we believed in separating from worldliness as much as possible, and since we believed the Bible teaches man was to till the soil and work with his hands (in command and by examples throughout the Bible), and since we believed we should live in Christian community with like-minded believers, we left our corporate jobs to buy land here in Texas in fellowship and community with those like-minded folks we had gotten to know, so as to start farming the land and raising animals for food. Since our moving down here a little over 2 years ago, the Lord has seen fit to grow our community by adding several other families. We’re not a commune, in that, each family owns their own land and stuff; we’re more of a neighborhood than anything else; and we fellowship together more of as a home church, with singing, meals, teachings and just living our lives together as family.

And so, there you have it, in a nutshell.

— David

 

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