Archive for January, 2014

He’s Not Safe, But He’s Good

“We want a light, frothy, chipper God. But He’s not like that,” my pastor said in his message Sunday.

The passage he covered is found in Matthew 17:1-6:

“Six days later Jesus took Peter and the two brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain to be alone. 2 As the men watched, Jesus’ appearance was transformed so that his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared and began talking with Jesus.

4 Peter exclaimed, ‘Lord, it’s wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I’ll make three shelters as memorials[a]—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’

5 But even as he spoke, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy. Listen to him.’ 6 The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground.”

A true mountaintop experience. Peter talks about setting up tents for the arrivals probably because he didn’t know what else to say. Then God the Father speaks. And just like ring-around-the-rosey, all fall down.

Except Jesus.

That is because He is God. I cannot attempt to describe His power and Might and Compassion and Holiness because they are infinite.

He’s not to be trifled with.

And He hates sin. That is why He came to earth–to die for our sins.

What is sin?

Most have labeled sin as a mistake, or misjudgment, or eve an addiction.

But the bottom line is, sin is whatever our Creator says it is and He’s pretty clear about what is right and what is wrong in the Bible.

When we die–not if–we will stand before our Creator, Jesus Christ, and we won’t be able to compare ourselves to our neighbor, or the movie theatre shooter, or a drug dealer.

We will be compared to the Holy Son of God. And we will be found wanting.

Unless we believe the cross. Unless we trust the cross. Unless we take up our cross.

When the character Aslan, in the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is described, Lucy asks the Beaver if Aslan is safe.

“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Jesus is the King. He is Who He is and what we think about Him doesn’t change Him.

But it does determine our eternal destiny.

Where are you going when you die?

 

 

Cough Drops and The Gospel

Imagine my surprise when I opened a cough drop and received a pep talk on the wrapper.

“Nothing you can’t handle,” “Bet on yourself,” “Power through,”Turn can do into can did,” “Impress yourself today,” and “It’s yours for the taking.”

I’ve been reading Dove Dark Chocolate quotes for years, but I must confess, the cough drop philosophy took me by surprise.

It shouldn’t have.

Our culture is saturated with messages laced with sicky-sweet, self-serving, self-esteem jargon.

Kind of like, “Your best life now.”

Schools teach the inherent good of man. A kind of Star-Trek Utopian.

Funny. You don’t have to teach children to lie. You don’t have to encourage spouses to cheat on each other or a man to be angry enough with another man to kill him.

It comes naturally. It’s human nature.

There’s a word for it–depraved.

The Bible states we are all sinners deserving of hell. So if you attend a church that doesn’t teach about hell, you’re not hearing what God has to say about it.

Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Scripture teaches we are all part of Adam’s race because when he sinned we sinned. We live on this earth a few short years and then we die.

Then what?

Eternity, that’s what.

With no hope.

Unless you know the gospel. Unless you believe the gospel.

What is it?

I’m glad you asked.

First, the gospel is an historical event, not how it’s changed my life. That is the fruit of the gospel.

I Corinthians 1:3-4 states, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

There are a lot of things that seem important in my Christian life. Church attendance, good works, living a pure life. Often times I forget the most important thing–the gospel or good news of Jesus Christ.

Maybe the American church has forgotten that, too. Namely, that we are sinners and need forgiveness. That God became Man in the form of a baby. That Jesus lived a sinless life, and died an atoning death for our sins.

It’s not “your best life now.” It’s your forgiven life now, and your best life in eternity.

I know several Christians who are battling cancer. I have other friends who are returning to a country to share the gospel with some who will persecute and may kill them. It’s not their best life now.

But one day, it will be.

Because a part of the gospel that I’d forgotten about was that when Christ was raised from the dead, he guaranteed my resurrection.

Romans 6:3-5 says, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

My life here is good. But it’s not my best life now. And I’m not succumbing the cough-drop-philosophy, advising me to “bet on myself.”

I’m betting on Jesus.

My best life is to come.

And that’s no cough drop, pep talk philosophy.

It’s reality.

 

 

 

Chickens and Puppies and Kittens, Oh My

Cultivating a DreamBefore last year, almost the only time I’d seen a chicken, was on my dinner plate. On August 1, 2013, I ordered 75 chicks.

I should have had my head examined.

After two dying within a day, and my dog Sam playing with one to death and me sobbing, we’ve pretty much kept the rest. (Although they are difficult to count.) I thought they would pasture and not eat chicken feed. Wrong. If I don’t feed them twice a day at a specific time, they will fly in my hair and on my back and out of the fence as I approach them. This morning, we heard a knocking noise on our window. Our house is a quarter mile from the coop.

Feeding the chickens

“You’re late. It’s probably a chicken,” Tom said.

Also, I didn’t figure out the fact that we don’t have pasture. Now we have mud. And lots of it.

So after three or four catastrophes and about 5,000 hours of man and womanpower, a couple weeks before Christmas, we got our first egg.

You would have thought we had a mid-life-crisis-baby.

So the chicken purchase has cost us close to the national debt and we’ve retrieved perhaps four dozen eggs so far.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, we had to store the chicken feed somewhere and not only don’t we have pastures, but we don’t have any storage buildings so the chicken feed is stored under our house.

Rats found the feed. We needed mousers.

Enter Reep and Cheep, two male stray kittens.

Cats

Now I go to Tractor Supply and buy 100 pounds of chicken feed and 20 pounds of kitty food. That’s not counting the warm milk the kitties get every night. (I might need a cow next.)

Then there’s the safety of the “ladies.” We can’t have our national debt chickens being eaten by someone other than us. We needed a guardian. A dog. A Great Pyrenees.

Trouble was, I couldn’t just get one. She’d be lonely, so I got two girls – Molly and Lacey.

Dogs on the porch

Not only had I never had chickens, I’d never had an outside dog.

I picked up “the girls” and they got sick in my car on the way home. Big time. They’d never been on a leash and were afraid of Tom and I. After I put their colorful collars on, I leashed them.

“Come on, Lacey! Come on, Molly!” They sat.

The outside-dog-thing wasn’t going well.

“Where do we put them?” Tom asked.

I hadn’t thought of that either. So we made a make-shift pen under our porch. Then I had the bright idea of putting them on our porch. They weren’t potty trained. That was big time, too.

Tom set up a strand of electric fence next to our chicken “ladies” to hold our puppy “girls.”

Immediately, Molly and Lacey ran from zap to zap like a pinball machine until they retreated to a makeshift doghouse we put in for them.

Lacey didn’t come out for over a day.

Then it got rainy and cold. We put them back on the porch and tried potty training them. They ran away.

Tom took off in his truck and I took off in the van. We combed our 60+ acres. I knocked on the doors of a couple of our neighbors. Three hours later we still found no trace of them.

My husband thought of Sam – our inside, couch-loving, potty trained Standard Poodle.

Within five minutes Sam found them. Molly came back with Tom, but Lacey ran off again only to show up four hours later.

They have a proper doghouse now. It’s very trendy since it’s made of reclaimed oak and a shiny metal roof. They’re getting used to the electric fence, and each day I take them in with me to meet the chickens. No recent catastrophes. Although I have no doubt there will be others.

Tomorrow, I’ll head to Tractor Supply to get 100 pounds of chicken food, 40 pounds of kitty food, 50 pounds of dog food, with a stop at the local meat market to pick up large dog bones.

And the day after that, I’ll probably head to the vet.

I’m eating the most expensive eggs in the world.

And they taste good.

Before last year, almost the only time I’d seen a chicken, was on my dinner plate. So August 1st, 2013 I ordered 75 chicks.

I should have had my head examined.

After two dying within a day, and my dog Sam playing with one to death and me sobbing, we’ve pretty much kept the rest. (Although they are difficult to count.) I thought they would pasture and not eat chicken feed. Wrong. If I don’t feed them twice a day at a specific time, they will fly in my hair an on my back and out of the fence as I approach them. This morning, we heard a knocking noise on our window. Our house is a quarter mile away from the coop.

“You’re late. It’s probably a chicken,” Tom said.

Also, I didn’t figure out the fact that we don’t have pasture. Now we have mud. And lots of it.

So after three or four catastrophes and about 5000 hours of man and woman power, a couple weeks before Christmas, we got our first egg.

You would have thought we had a mid-life-crisis-baby.

So the chicken purchase has cost us close to the national debt and we’ve retrieved perhaps 4 dozen eggs so far.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, we have to store the chicken feed somewhere and not only don’t we have pastures, but we don’t have any storage buildings so the chicken feed is stored under our house.

Rats found the feed. We needed mousers.

Enter Reep and Cheep, two male stray kittens.

So I go to Tractor Supply and buy 100 pounds of chicken feed and 20 pounds of kitty food. That’s not counting the warm milk the kitties get every night. (I might need a cow next.)

Then there’s the safety of the “ladies.” We can’t have our national debt chickens being eaten by someone other than us. We needed a guardian. A dog. A Great Pyrenees.

Trouble was, I couldn’t just get one. She’d be lonely, so I got two girls–Molly and Lacey.

Not only had I never had chickens, I’ve never had an outside dog.

I picked up “the girls” and they got sick in my car on the way home. Big time. They’d never been on a leash and were afraid of Tom and I. After I put their cheerful collars on, I leashed them.

“Come on Lacey! Come on Molly!” They sat. The outside-dog-thing wasn’t going well. On to our next problem.

“Where do we put them?” Tom asked.

I hadn’t thought of that either. So we made a make-shift pen under our porch. Then I had the bright idea of putting them on our porch and we found they weren’t potty trained. That was big time, too.

Tom set up a strand of electric fence next to our chicken “ladies” to hold our puppy “girls.”

Immediately, Molly and Lacey ran from zap to zap like a pinball machine until they retreated to a makeshift doghouse we put in for them.

Lacey didn’t come out for over a day.

Then it got rainy and cold. We put them back on the porch and tried potty training them. They ran away.

Tom took off in his truck and I took off in the van. Three hours later we still found no trace of them.

My husband thought of Sam–our inside, couch-loving, potty trained, standard poodle.

Within five minutes Sam found them. Molly came back but Lacey ran off again only to show up four hours later.

They have a proper dog house now. It’s very trendy since it’s made of reclaimed oak and a shiny metal roof. They’re getting used to the electric fence, and each day I take them in with me to meet the chickens. No recent catastrophes. Although I have no doubt there will be others.

Tomorrow, I’ll head into to Tractor Supply to get 100 pounds of chicken food, 40 pounds of kitty food, and 50 pounds of dog food.

And they day after that, I’ll probably head off to the vet.

I’m eating the most expensive eggs in the world.

And they taste good.

 

 

Insignificantly Significant

Yesterday, I spent the entire morning cleaning out 12 nesting boxes, the chicken coop floor, our dog run, and a litter box. (I can’t get my photos to turn so just turn your head.)

The thought occurred to me that lots of people throughout history have been either enslaved or employed to do all sorts of unpleasant, menial labor their entire lives.

It’s humbling to me.

You see, I thought I was going to be famous.

Some of you knew that.

And sometimes when I’m shoveling chicken manure, I wonder if my life will ever count for anything.

Because I’m proud.

Many of you knew that, too.

When I travel to places, (besides my coop) I’m often overwhelmed with my insignificance. A big world filled with billions of people in overcrowded cities. I feel both overwhelmed and small.

But feeling insignificant  is good for me. It helps me understand my real priorities.

Yesterday, while I slopped unpleasant smelling stuff, I thought about my friends. If you saw them on the street, you wouldn’t notice them. They’re just every day folk.

Although you might not notice them, they mean a lot to me. And, more importantly, they mean a lot to the Creator of the universe.

Scripture says in the book of Matthew that the Lord knows when a sparrow falls. Psalm 139 tells us that God knew us before we were born.

Our pastor just started a series from I Corinthians 15 is helping me determine both my priorities and my significance. I’d encourage you to read it. It’s about the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of believers in Christ.

As a spoiled American Christian, I often forget about the resurrection. That’s ’cause I’m comfortable. I have food, shelter, entertainment, health–dark chocolate, even.

But throughout history many believers have had nothing, yet they were rich. Their life had meaning.

Remember the story Jesus told about the man who begged at the gate and the rich man passed him by. When they died, the rich man was tormented and the beggar comforted. In other words, the man who was significant on earth lost everything and the poor beggar gained everything.

We are transients here. This isn’t our home. C.S.Lewis called this world, “Shadowland.”

One day, those who have trusted Christ as their Savior will be united with Him in heaven. And, we will be resurrected.

That is significant.

It makes all that we do significant if we are doing it for the Lord.

Even shoveling chicken poop.

I’m Insignificantly, Significant.

And so are you.

 

A Real Farmer’s Wife, Grit Blog

A Real Farmer’s Wife

1/2/2014 3:14:00 PM

By Pauline Hylton

Tags: EggsChickensCracker BarrelFront PorchGreat PyreneesPauline Hylton

Cultivating a DreamSo, since I actually became a farmer’s wife, I haven’t had time to write about becoming a farmer’s wife.

Go figure.

I’ve got chickens to feed, eggs to gather, fields to consider, barns to take down, barns to put up, and a life to learn.

I guess when I thought about being a farmer’s wife, I didn’t think it would be so much work.

next boxes

It’s like delivering the newspaper, or raising children, or having a good marriage – it’s just so daily.

But I love it.

I love waking up to space. Lots of it.

I love throwing a stick for my dog after I clean out the chicken coop. I love watching our two new mousers, Reep and Cheep, wrestle on our Cracker-Barrel-size front porch.

I’m mesmerized by the light of the sun as it glides across my porch and shines into our over-sized windows.

I’m content.

I’ve met a hard-working couple who raise chickens and cows and pigs. They’re fine people. On Christmas Eve, I dropped by their house to buy a gallon of fresh milk. That’s a tough act to follow.

We’ve been befriended by a young farm couple who stopped by our house during the Christmas holidays, bearing the gift of flavored popcorn. It makes me smile thinking about it.

We belong here.

It’s nice to have a place to belong. My heart still aches for friends and family in Florida, but I wouldn’t want to move back.

When Tom and I think of the future, if we’re not careful, we’re afraid. But we shouldn’t be. A hundred years ago, people lived from year to year and crop to crop like we’re doing now.

It’s a hard thing, but good, too.

It’s made us realize how dependent we are. Dependent on the weather, the land, the economy, but more than any of those temporal things – dependent on the eternal God.

As Americans, we sometimes forget that.

We shouldn’t.

It’s a new year. No one knows what this year brings. Not in my old house on a quarter of an acre in Florida – not on my 64-acre farm in North Carolina.

In 2014, I’m glad I’m a farmer’s wife.

We’re cultivating a dream.

And it feels good.

P.S. In the last week, we’ve added four to our family: Two kittens named Reep and Cheep, and two Great Pyrenees pups named Lacey and Molly.

Life is good.

Read more: http://www.grit.com/community/humor/a-real-farmers-wife.aspx#ixzz2pMm0MeRD