Monthly Archives: March 2017

Devotions, dishes, and diapers…

It’s how we roll on the farm and they all do with cleaning. 

There is no better way to start the day than by prayer and devotions and they all go to Jesus. Starting the day by being cleansed by Him and His Holy Spirit helps to start the day right. 

Dishes and diapers came even before barn chores this morning. A small kitchen with limited space and only a certain number of cloth diapers helps to prioritize the chore list. 

Kind of like Matthew 23:26 where Jesus talks about cleaning the inside of the cup. 

Start inward and work outward. 

Adoption…

Have you ever looked up a definition of a word and they use a version of the word to define itself?

So it is with the word adoption. Truth be told it bothers me when they do that.

The fun starts, however, when we look at the origin of the word, which for adoption, is Latin.

Ad-optio = Ad means to and optio means choose, so adoption means to choose.

Just under half of our animals on the farm are rescues, adopted. Some come from our family farm in Michigan, and one pure breed was purchased because we wanted a guarantee what we were getting. The one we have purchased has proven to be the most challenging.

Those we’ve been given or have adopted have been great. All of our animals are part of the Shiloh family.

In the New International Version of the Bible, adoption is found five times. Each time it uses the word adoption in this phrase: “adoption to sonship.”

The animals we have adopted and rescued are constant reminders of who we are in Christ and through Christ; we are adopted sons and daughters of the Creator of the universe, God.

In the hustle and bustle of this busy world we need all the reminders we can get, as everything pulls and tugs at us and distracts us from who we really are, and remembering always that we are but aliens in a hostile world.

The pure breed animal we purchased that has been a pain? So have we been purchased by Christ, in fact Scripture tells us we are not our own:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV)

19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

How tightly we like to hang on to things, including ourselves, when in fact we belong as co-heirs to our Father in heaven.

Matthew chapter 6 tells us to store up treasures in heaven and not on earth. It would probably do us good to understand what treasures in heaven mean.

Creation…

As I get older and have more life experiences, I come to realize this fact more and more:

Colossians 1:15-23 (NIV)

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

I think of verse 16 more specifically. There is nothing that isn’t His. We have just been given the honor to help steward it.

I have been privileged to have been part of bringing two children into this world. My wonderful son who is 30 and 1/2 years old. He is so much more smarter than I in so many different aspects of life. He has a wonderful heart for people. He is handsome, smart, works and plays hard, and I am very proud of him.

I am now the father of a beautiful daughter of almost 3 months. I call my two children my book ends, as they have joined me in life at what I consider almost the two ends of my life.

My son, blessed me when I was much younger and inexperienced in life. Despite my lacking as a man and a father, he has turned into a wonderful man.

My daughter, blessed me when I am 31 years older than when I was blessed with my son. I am a man of faith now, seeking God’s heart, however imperfectly. Though I need glasses for my physical eyes, my spiritual eyes grow sharper as time goes on. I thank the Lord for this, as I do not want to be an Eli especially in the days we are in.

What do I see…

I see God everywhere in the midst of creation. Even in the midst of the brokenness and sin. The entirety of creation belongs to Him.  All of it, including my two children. What about all the pain we see in the world? It is a result of sin and Jesus is the answer.

I believe life begins at conception. My daughter was born out of love and science through IVF. To witness the beginning of her life from conception till the present, shows the miracle of God’s work and just how beautiful He and His work is.

What is in a name? In Genesis 49:10, Shiloh is used as a name for Jesus.

So, when you here the name, Shiloh’s Farm, please do not think of it as our farm, but as a part of Jesus’ creation, that belongs to Him and that we are helping to care for.

Myself, my bride, my family, this land, these animals, the vegetables, the solar power, the water collected, the compost made, the vehicles and equipment and tools, all belong to Jesus. We pray His Holy Spirit dwells here and blesses us and this land, and uses it and us to bless those around us.

Isaiah 55: 5-6

 

Given vs. taken…

One of the lessons I’ve learned over the years is the difference between what I’ve been given and what I’ve taken.

I don’t mean in the material aspect of life, but in the matter of what God has put in my life, who has He place in my life, where has He placed me in my life, and what does He have me doing with my life.

Using my life as the example, He has used the Marine Corp as a springboard of training and life experience to place me in law enforcement. There were only two groups of educated people in my training academy; those with a college education and those with a military background. There was no one with just a GED or high school diploma.

Now, I chose to join the Marine Corp, which I know didn’t surprise God, but He used it to place me into the military police field and then into the police department. Since then, He has place people groups around me to help direct me, train me, and help me live life to the glory of Him.

Now, I don’t believe for a moment there is anything I can do as an individual on my own to bring God glory, but through my relationship with Jesus and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, all things are now possible. It’s been amazing to see God work in my life.

From trainers and educators in the police department, to pastors and other mentors in my life, He has use a multitude to build me up.

I have tried to do many different things with my life like different ministries, jobs in the department, relationships, jobs outside the department.  All met with some degree of success and some degree of problems, however those areas that I know God gave me have been met with far more blessing than problems.

It has taken years living life and it hasn’t been until this last year, 2016, for me to finally learn this lesson.  When I tried going back to college to get my bachelors, though a good thing, it wasn’t really a God thing, it was a me thing, and it was EXTREMELY difficult. I failed, actually, and had to drop out. I didn’t have the time or the ability to focus to get the work  one.  It was tremendously stressful on me and my family.  When I went to get my associates, it was really pretty smooth.  It wasn’t without it’s struggles, but it was very much different than my bachelors.  The conflict was different and so was the outcome.

In my work, I know God has placed me because of the success of my work. I do not say this proudfully, but in realization of the lesson I’ve now learned. I know and can see the positive impact my work is leaving on people.  I’ve been able to share my faith in some aspects of my work, which is huge when we look at church and state. He has placed me in my work where I can build positive relationships for the police department, and its working. Which is very important, especially with all the stress there is between law enforcement and the communities we serve today.

I’ve tried different ministries. Some I’ve been able to finish in their season, however there have been others that I have had to quit. I am a believer that God works in seasons in our life, so to finish a season in a ministry is a great thing, but to quit before the season is over tells me I wasn’t to be in that ministry in the first place. Huge finding when it comes to impacting the lives of people around us and they look to you (me) as a leader.

So many times I feel the need to commit myself because doing the ministry is a good thing and it’s helping people and there is usually a need, but if it’s not where you are supposed to be and not what you are supposed to be doing, then you are being distracted from what it is you are suppose to be doing and where you are supposed to be.

It causes us to neglect those areas of our life which should be considered ministries, but so many times are often neglected for the sake of serving God.

Our own relationship with Christ, for instance, is our first and most important ministry. It is a ministry, understand that, and it is the most important ministry you will ever be part of.

If you are married or courting your future wife or husband, that is your second most important ministry. Next to Jesus, nothing should interfere with your relationship, or impact it in a negative manner. If what you are doing is having a negative impact on your marriage, you need to do a serious reassessment.

Now, it’s important you and your spouse are on the same page and expectations are discussed. Surprises and agendas in a relationship can be dangerous, when it comes to our work, ministries and relationship.

One of Satan’s goals is to destroy marriages, so talk with your spouse and make sure everyone is in agreement.  Compromise can be healthy and a good thing, but discussion is where decisions should be made.

Never be afraid or proudful about asking for help from someone more wise than yourself. Guys can have a problem with this. (Types as he looks in the mirror)

Life can be stressful and busy to the point it’s not healthy, but it’s not always supposed to be this way.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 was the second Scripture God laid on my heart and is a good place to start for our life.

Importance…

What is really important to you?

They say, where you spend your money, your time, your effort, shows what is most important to you.

So what does that look like for you?

Does it show something that gets in the way of God’s presence in your life?

You wouldn’t really guess mine if I asked you. Most of you wouldn’t anyhow.

Food.

Mine is food. Food is an idol for me. It’s a stumbling block and impacts my spirit in a negative manner if I do not reign it in. If I do not place constraints on my eating, truth be told, all hell doesn’t break loose, but the battle between my flesh and spirit gets very real.

What does this mean?

Sin

We do not have a TV. The only technology we pay for is internet and cell phones, and that is by far enough.

As a married man of God, I need to guard my eyes and ears with a vengeance. Even if I were not a married man, but still after God’s heart, I would need to guard my eyes and ears with an intentionality that rivals Rocky’s training.

Sex is so pervasive in today’s society. From ads on television, TV shows, and how people are used to sell products, to the words used on both TV and radio, a majority of the time they are using some reference to sex or sexy. It’s literally everywhere. What we feed our spirit can really dictate the strength of our walk with God.

Anger management

I have a temper. When my temper rears its ugly head, it is ugly. I am not godly. I embarrass myself. I curse. Take the Lord’s name in vain.

I have anger issues. 

It is ugly through and through and it is sinful. 

Well, I mentioned before about  feeding our spirit, and this plugs so very well into my vice, food. I “love” food. I enjoy eating. I’m not overly adventurous, but I like variety and it’s not all healthy. Pack me a donut anytime of the day. Fried food goes down so very easy. And the more butter and creamy it is, oh so very good!

So how does this work to impact me in such a negative way?

Truth be told, I don’t fully understand it myself, but I believe it is on the level of self denial. I like to eat until I am fully satisfied, and on occassion, over and above. And I like to eat that which sounds good to me.  

By leaving myself just a bit hungry and by not giving into the desire for that donut, fried food, milk shake, extra bowl of cereal, it changes things in my spirit.

Now I don’t eat all that bad and I don’t really consider myself to be gluttonous.

Anymore.

But I do like to eat to my fill.

For me, I find it is in the feeling of being self satisfied that causes me to stumble. It clouds my spirit from hearing God and makes me more susceptible to my sin nature. 

When I’m a little hungry for something, when I yearn for something and fail to fulfill it, there is something in my flesh that is cleansed and really weakened. 

I don’t know if this makes any sense at all.

I am not a person who practices the spiritual discipline of fasting very often. When I choose to fast, the results are limited at best and I never seem to meet my expectations.

Did you get that statement? Whose expectations?

However, when I do get that inclination in my spirit to fast, and I know it is from God, things change. My spirit is more sensitive to hearing God and my flesh is not as confrontational against my spirit.

Note to self:

There is a potential distraction in the midst of this. The scale. 

If I measure my flesh it distracts from the Spirit and makes it about the flesh once again. Satan is indeed tricky. 

So, though hungry, that hungry feeling I can not allow to translate back to the flesh via the scale and turn fasting into a weight loss program. 

If there is one area that is the game changer in my spiritual walk, it is food, and leaving myself a little more empty, makes much more room for God.

To be more empty, I guess you could say makes me more full.

Presence…

Elijah. 1 Kings 19

When I think of God’s presence in my life, for some reason I always go to Elijah in chapter 19 in the book of Kings.

I can’t help but think of the mountain that Elijah was on, and the mountains we make in our own life and then look for God in the midst of the storms we have created by being so busy, and distracted by things, and wonder, where is God? Why can’t I hear Him?

It’s not until we calm ourselves, calm our life, and then…

…in the stillness of that moment, He is there, talking with us. Truth be told, He’s probably trying to get our attention the whole time and we’re just too busy to recognize that very fact.

So, the farm and God’s presence.

He is everywhere. From the star lit sky at night, to the sunrises and sunsets, to the different personalities of the animals and their specific likes and needs. To the lessons of what it means to be a shepherd. That’s a biggie!

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The cross on the back of the property has been so much more than a symbol, a marker, an ebenezer; it’s been a place of literal regrouping, peace, and rest. The Lord has shown His presence in the calming of my spirit at the cross. I have seen Him in the forgiveness He has given me while confessing there. He has made His presence known in the wind, as it blows through the tree tops, causes them to dance and plays a tune. 

Life on the farm for me has not always been perfect. We will talk more about this soon. Much of this lack of perfect is my own doing, go figure.

There are things that get under my skin and I allow to create those storms mentioned earlier.

What gets in the way of my hearing God?

Idols…

The learning curve doesn’t stop at the gardens, but also includes critters.

We already had Claudia, our mixed breed rescue puppy of 9 years, and searched for and waited for Frazier, our Maine Coon kitty. He was a rescue from Pennsylvania.  The rescue was VERY thorough! Many months, two applications, and two visits!

We then went to a farm in Virginia to pick up a lamb and baby goat!  Both still needed bottles, so that was a true adventure!

So where do you keep two new babies? In the kitchen of course!

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Meet Snuggles the lamb and Gracie the goat, as they get acquainted with Claudia our pup and Frazier our kitty! Our new additions spent the first three nights in our kitchen till they got better acclimated.  They are like having bottle fed babies, as they need to be fed just as frequent!

See them now!

From here, all sorts of critters began joining our family.  We took on some Michigan Silkies, adopted a bunny from the county fair, two more sheep and several more birds, to include an amazing goose named Lola. Mason, the sheep in the middle above and his sister Doret on the right with Snuggles on the left.  Gracie checking out her new house.

 

Nissi is a pure breed blue heeler and full of it!  He challenges us to our wits end and back! Wow! But what a loving dog! He does love his people!

Lola is a better property guard than any other critter we have on the farm! Though she is no where near as aggressive as her Canadian cousins.

I take animal ownership very seriously.  If it’s possible, almost too seriously, but to the animals benefit. Our poor Gracie had a rough start. She had worms really bad as a little one. I believe we came pretty close to losing her, but we kept at it. This was a massively stressful event in my life! From learning to give shots, trips to the vet, forcing fluids down her throat and constant watching!

Everyone else has been pretty healthy.  We did have one chicken with a prolapsed vent, which after one week of care our lil feathered friend was good as new. I am now a self proclaimed chicken proctologist.  If you really want to know more just ask, but the vet wanted 800 dollars to fix her!

Much to my bride’s dismay I even try to rescue other critters.

A black snake from my aunts shed, and one from ours where it got tangled in netting.                                                               What’s a farm without blacksnakes?

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Then there’s this lil critter. It survived two shovelings of compost and a trip in the bed of a pick up truck, so I felt it was fate to try and keep it alive. Unfortunately I wasn’t successful, but…

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There have been fox and groundhogs that have threatened parts of the farm and protective action that has had to be taken.  Not part of the life of a farmer I like, but a necessary part, nonetheless, as we learn to take care of that which God has given us.

The reality of Shiloh’s Farm I have found is this. It is a place to learn and to grow, not just in learning how to best use the resources of the farm, but to learn and grow in my understanding of God and how farm life relates to Scripture.

The lessons continue to be far and wide and I indeed have much growing to do.