The Marriage of Patsey Millsap

Posted by tcmgo1 on Jun 26th, 2010

The quaint, though captivating story below was told in 1818 by Calvin Smith, a young Missouri boy who lived on the road between Franklin and Athens, better known today as Columbia. It is taken again from The Centennial History of Missouri, 1821-1921, by Walter Stevens. Though it’s entertaining from time to time to revisit the simple, homespun ways of our early American culture that built our nation, there are some things in the story that really caught my attention given the economic and societal realities of today. Perhaps, you can pick them out, as well.

“One day in July there came along a party of five or six men, each leading a horse with a packsaddle on, containing camp equipage and clothing. On top of these were a number of children. There were five or six women walking behind, some of them barefooted. The company stopped at our house for a drink from the spring. After refreshing themselves, they lay on the grass for a rest, it being the heat of the day. We found out that their destination was about fifteen miles further on the mouth of the Chariton river.

One of the ladies of the party was sick and my mother agreed that she could remain at our house for a rest. So she went to one of the saddles and pulled out her clothing. Her name was Patsey Millsap. She was not related to any of the party but had joined them in Tennessee. She was about twenty-two. Next day she was better, and asked mother for work and to remain at our house. Mother said we were only newcomers and that we had only one room for the five or six children and father and mother. A few days after this a Mrs. Groom, a neighbor, called to take tea with mother, and asked if she knew of any one that wanted work. She said her daughter had just been married and they were opening a large farm.

Mother at once introduced her to Patsey Millsap. She was asked if she would take the position and she said ‘yes.’ Then the question of wages came up. Mrs. Groom said she could pay her twenty-five cents a week, and although this was very cheap, Patsey agreed to take it as she had no home. The two started off for the Groom farm. The first day’s work was washing. As the wash was behind three weeks, it took a week to catch up. The Groom family was a large one.

Patsey worked for a month or more when a young man of twenty-four came along the big road. He was from Kentucky. His name was Richard Chaney. He stopped at the spring for a drink, and, looking up, saw many tall, straight white oak trees and, as they struck his fancy, he made up his mind to camp at this place which was called Smith’s White Oak Ridge. He went to the mill, got some meal, wet it up in some green hickory leaves and in an hour or two his ‘pone’ was done. This was called ash pone. After his simple meal he went to work with his ax, cut down a four-foot white oak. Then with his ax and edge, he made four-foot clap boards which he carried to the big road where all immigrants passed.

He found plenty of customers for his boards, there being no trouble to get logs, but planks and shingles were scarce. Dick soon filled his pockets with silver and thought he would get some meat, getting tired of ‘pone.’ So he went to Daddie Groom’s place for some bacon. He saw Patsey on his first visit and it was a case of love at first sight. A few days later a match was made and Patsey told mother Groom she was going to marry Dick. Daddie called Patsey to one side and said, ‘I understand you and Dick are going to get married.’ Patsey said, ‘We so contemplate to do.’

‘Well,’ said Daddie Groom, ‘Dick is no account and you will starve.’

‘We can live on love,’ said Patsey

‘Well, go ahead,’ said Daddie Groom.

They were married and moved into a vacant schoolhouse. They bored a hole in one of the logs, had one leg of the bed in the middle of the room, laid boards on the rails and covered them with leaves. This with a quilt given by Mrs. Groom made their bed. Mrs. Groom also gave them a skillet to make pone in and fry meat. A few weeks later Patsey went to Groom’s house to buy some bacon. Daddie Groom said, ‘I thought you told me you can live on love?’ ‘So I did,’ said Patsey, ‘but a little bacon will help out so very much.’ Mr. Groom laughed and gave her a huge side of bacon and when she offered to pay for it, told her it would be a wedding present. Patsey wrapped her apron around the middle of the bacon, propped it on her head and started for home. The last I heard of them they had eight or ten children and all were prosperous and happy.”

My observations:

First, here was a vulnerable young lady in serious need of care and work who humbly receives it, without any bureaucratic fanfare or intervention, in the form of a family that did not know her from Adam yet took her in and acted as a protective covering for her in providing both her material needs and counsel, and all that at their own risk and expense. I wonder what laws would be broken today if the same arrangements were made? We might be surprised.

Though Patsey was looking for work she received much more than mere wages, but a home, and quite likely a Christian home, as it was a decidedly Christian culture back then that saw it their moral duty before the Lord (Deu. 15:11, Pro. 31:20, Gal. 2, James 1:27) to come to the aid of those who were truly in need (1Tim. 6:8, James 2:14-17). They certainly did not look to the state to fulfill this duty like we religiously do today, and rightly so, for such benevolence and mercy lies under the purview of the Church, to be administered through the local Christian community, a now largely extinct dinosaur from the so-called “puritanical” days of early America. It must be stated here that the (501c3) para-church ministries of today that minister to the needy are not the same, by any means, as they are created, regulated, and controlled by the state, wherein the local Christian community is the organic manifestation of the Lord’s church on earth when in covenantal faithfulness it seeks first His Kingdom and righteousness in keeping His commandments.

Save for the Amish and a few other Anabaptist communities scattered throughout the nation, the local Christian community, which was once the bedrock of our nation and the safe harbor for the Patsey Millsaps of the world, quietly past from the American culture several generations ago when American Christendom, having grown fat upon the blessings of God while seeping itself in the pragmatism of modern philosophy, rebelled against the Lord to seek after the “good life” via the god of “modern human progress,” better known as humanism, the religion of state worship. And should you think being pragmatic a good thing, look up its meaning in a real dictionary, like that of Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828).

Like the one arranged for Patsey, for these types of arrangements to have successfully worked to the good of both parties required genuine integrity and lasting mutual trust between them. And, contrary to the history revisionism of today that maligns and perverts the rich history and tremendous influence that American Christendom had in developing our American culture, there were a myriad of success stories like Patsey’s in those days, as the local Christian community, in spite of its sins and weaknesses, was at that time the very foundation and life of a thriving culture. This is not to say things were idyllic back in those days, by any means, as there were many deceivers and plunderers who took full advantage of charitable Americans by playing either the victim or the benefactor, just as it is today, though on a far grander scale.

Today, this type of arrangement would hardly have a chance to get off the ground, let alone succeed, due to various tax issues, unseen liabilities, laws & regulations, and governmental oversight. Not to mention that we live in a perilous culture where one needs to be extraordinarily cautious in helping others. Without first doing some serious backtracking and investigation, something that is very difficult and sometimes impossible to do given the autonomous, transient nature of our culture, one often puts themselves in harm’s way to help others, a sad testimony to the near total loss of Christian morality in our declining culture. This should not keep us from our duty to love our neighbor, however, but we must exercise biblical caution and prudence about it and take whatever time is necessary to know, as much as possible, all the circumstances behind the one seeking help.

Second, with Richard Chaney being of “no account” how could he with but a few small hand tools and his own limited labor begin to prosper so quickly? To get some perspective, in today’s culture this would mean that he lacked a college degree, a “good” credit rating, a sizable nestegg, and other modern societal advantages. The answer didn’t lie in his skills or tools, as they were common in his day, nor in the availability of trees, as they were thick as molasses. The answer lies in the money. He was paid in silver coinage. For the most part, though the Rag-barons of modern banking were slowly taking the upper hand, the economy at that time was based on gold and silver money, which gave him direct parity for his labor and the products he made, a fair exchange. The same cannot be said for today where fiat currency robs the common man of both his labor and the products he produces.

In 1864, following the passage of the national bank law where the bankers were successful in having the legal tender power of the U.S. Government-issued greenbacks abolished, James Buell, secretary of the New York banker’s committee, sent a circular to the bankers of the country. In it he states, “To repeal the law creating national banks or to restore to circulation the Government issue of money will be to provide the people with money, and will therefore seriously affect your individual profit as banker or lender. See your member of Congress at once and engage him to support our interest that we control legislation.”   (M.W. Walbert, The Coming Battle – A Complete History of the National Banking Money Power in the United States (W.B. Conkey Co., Chicago, 1899) p. 44.)

The truth shall set you free. When the people possess and use lawful money in their everyday lives, they get the full benefit of it as a fair exchange for their labor in producing, buying, and selling the things of life, whereby they personally profit by it, just as God intended (Ecc. 3:12-13). When the bankers usurp real money and replace it with their fiat currency via a legalized monopoly they profit by it to the loss of the common man’s precious labor and production. That’s how it has always worked.

In fact, the plague of rag money – the spurious bank notes and paper currencies – that have been forced upon the American people by the Rag-barons of “modern banking” has actually been openly decried against for many generations in our nation. One such protest, which came with a rather sober remedy, came from a Col. Eugene Leistendorfer of Carondelet, Missouri, in the early days of Missouri following his wartime service in the United States army in the Tripolitan War of 1801 to 1805 (Bay of Tripoli).

“Col. Eugene Leistendorfer, formerly of that part of the army of the U. States which crossed the Desert, and assisted in the capture of Derne, from the Bey of Tripoli, now an inhabitant of Carondelet (near St. Loius), where he is married and where by labor the most herculean he has almost brought to perfection a vineyard and a vegetable garden, which would yield him a comfortable support were it not for the deceptions practiced on him by the circulation of spurious bank notes;

Now in order to put a stop to the further evil, he proposes to the states and territories to make laws, punishing capitally, the presidents and directors of such banks as will not redeem their notes in silver—and he, the said Col. E. Leistendorfer, will hold himself in readiness to march at a moment’s notice, to put the hempen cord about the necks of the Rag-barons, gratis.

N.B. He has a quantity of Nashville paper which he will exchange at a discount of 50 per cent for pumpkins.” (Centennial History of Missouri, 1821-1921, Volume 2, page 601)

When will we ever take to heart the painful lessons of debt-based economics? What is to become of the Richard Chaneys of today should there not be a return to the honest money of gold and silver coinage? The answer is grim, as history teaches us over and over again. Only biblical money consisting of the honest weights and just measures of gold and silver coinage fosters individual prosperity and freedom, which acts as a real check against legalized plunder and political tyranny, provided the people humble themselves under the hand of the Lord to truly see its wisdom while all the while looking to Him to live it out.

Third, the happy ending to the story where the Chaneys have eight to ten children who all were prosperous and happy would fly in the face of the family hating society of today that sees children, not as a blessing from the Lord, but as an unbearable burden and threat to personal freedom and prosperity. The gospel of “wealth without work” through interest bearing investing and corporate welfare has taught us to vehemently oppose the biblical mandate to be fruitful and multiply, to work as unto the Lord by the sweat of our brows in meaningful production, and to seek first the Lord and His Kingdom as the path to civil and economic freedom. Like the slogan from the famous Virginia Slims commercial that touted the praises of the new found cultural freedom of the 1970’s, “You’ve come a long way baby,” so America has come a long way since its inception . . . a long way down the road to judgment and oppression.

I don’t know about you, but I think we have greatly regressed from the days of Richard and Patsey Chaney, as we certainly are no where nears as biblically prosperous and free as they lived—corn pone, one room cabins, and all. —- The Rural Missourian

An Early Missourian Farmer’s Mindset

Posted by tcmgo1 on Jun 12th, 2010

Gottfried Duden was a German immigrant farmer that homesteaded in Missouri in its early days when man and animal toiled together to farm the rich soils of God’s making to produce the very necessities of life. In the brief excerpt below he paints an amazing picture of the early American farm, one that spoke of incredibly hard work and humble trust in the Creator for success, not in debt-inducing technology and every form of insurance to back it up. Gottfried’s gutsy pioneering spirit to trust God without subsidies and other government “guarantees” is something for which the average American today would shudder even considering, let alone undertaking. In a time where Americans have foolishly traded freedom for security and productivity for entitlement, the picture he paints may serve us well as a sort of prescriptive model to get back to understanding the vital necessity of being locally productive, as it is a crucial element of the biblical model for civil and economic freedom.

This excerpt is from a report he made in the 1820’s for future German immigrants, which described his personal farming experiences in the rich river bottomlands of Missouri. Though I grant he may have embellished it so as to draw his fellow countryman here, it does, however, line up with the historic records of the “Little Dixie” region which spanned both sides of the Missouri River, which at one time was one of the most prosperous farming regions in the nation prior to the devastations of the War Between The States that ravaged much of western Missouri. It is taken from the Centennial History of Missouri, 1821-1921, by Walter Stevens. I have emboldened one sentence, which really stands out, as it testifies to an entirely different worldview than that of today’s American farmer.

A small family requires no more than four or five acres of land to begin with. Half an acre suffices for garden vegetables, another half acre for wheat, after which there left three or four acres for maize. The maize is the farmer’s main crop. One might call it the nurse of the growing population. It serves all domestic animals as food. The meal made of it, when cooked, with milk, furnishes a very nourishing, wholesome and palatable food. If it is kneaded with the boiled pulp of the pumpkin a kind of bread can be made of it which I prefer to wheat bread, especially if the dough has been made to ferment. The baking is done in covered iron pots, which are placed beside the hearth and are covered entirely with burning coals. In most of the households fresh bread is baked every day, which is not so much of a burden, since there are always supplies of burning coals on the spacious hearth. There are a great many varieties of maize here. Those with white or yellow kernels are the most common. Besides these varieties there are those of red, blue, and red and blue spotted kernels, a finally a kind whose kernels are transparent like pearls. The stalks become very high, ten, fifteen, indeed twenty feet high.

 

The garden supplies the best kitchen vegetables. Peas and beans prosper beyond expectation. Of the beans, only the finer varieties are raised. In order not to have to supply sticks for the beans and make special beds for them they are planted in the maize fields, where the high stocks of the maize furnish support for the vines. All these things thrive simultaneously, without the least fertilizer, and indeed after twenty years just as well during the first year. Cucumbers and melons are grown each year in great abundance without any special attendance being given them. The sweet potato is also a fine vegetable. When prepared by steaming, its taste resembles that of the fine chestnut.

 

During the second year, after the land is cleared, cotton can be grown; north of the Missouri, however, only for family use. It is the endeavor of the American farmer not to spend any money for food and drink, nor for clothing (finer alone excepted). For this reason he grows flax and hemp and keeps a small flock of sheep. The spinning wheel is nowhere lacking, and if the household does not own a loom, the housewife or one of the daughters goes, from time to time, to one of the neighbors who does possess one.
 

 

At one time the American farm was like a small village, having several buildings dedicated for the diverse elements of its self contained, small scale economy (once known as “home economics”), which produced a whole variety of items meant to meet the needs of the farmer’s family first, and then as production permitted to sell to the surrounding community, which created the synergy for a strong local economy. It wasn’t that long ago that forty acres of decent farmland and a good span of broke mules could do a lot towards building a prosperous “family farm” in Missouri.

When I say family farm, I am not talking about the modern mono-crop or commodity farm that is often run by families, though I intend no offense to them as I realize they work extremely hard, but the problem is that they do not work for themselves, but for corporate agribusiness as indentured servants that must perpetually consume their farming products (equipment, chemicals and fertilizers, etc.) to keep the farm going, a loosing arrangement over time, except of course, for the huge corporate farms that receive the lion’s share of hundreds of billions in federal subsidies, a form of corporate welfare paid for by the American taxpayer. The plight of the average American farmer reminds me of the joke about the farmer that was asked what he would do if he won the lottery. He answered that he would just keep farming until the money was gone.

Praise the Lord, however, that there appears to be a growing movement in the rural areas of America towards restoring the true family farm—an independent farm that produces most all of the needs of its human stewards and the inputs (fertilizers, feed, etc.) it needs to sustainably produce livestock and crops from year to year—though not in isolation, but in tandem with other neighboring farms of the same mindset. As it stands now, the locally productive family farm is a rare bird, a lost heritage, save among the Amish, and even they are fighting for their lives these days because of the debt-based system and ever encroaching governmental regulatory agencies that have them cornered, like everyone else.

Drive around the countryside here and you will see small farms abandoned everywhere with collapsed buildings and bone yards full of rusting equipment, a solemn testimony to the “consume and discard” mentality that dominates us today. An ever growing number of farmers do not produce anything on their farms for personal consumption and do their shopping at the local Wal-Mart, where they buy food produced thousands of miles away. Farms here still have lots of buildings, nice big steel ones, but they mostly house the behemoth pieces of equipment that produce the commodity crops for corporate America.

Walk through our local Wal-Mart and one will witness Americans in a very sad state of health and awareness, where grossly overweight folks fill their shopping carts to the top with pizzas, desserts, chips, pop, and other highly processed “foods,” if you can call it that, which are made from GMO products saturated with high fructose corn syrup and who knows what hormones, pesticides, and chemicals. What’s worse, many have no clue what real food is, where it comes from, or how it is produced, and sadly, many could care less, believing with entitlement faith that there will always be readily available food and the means to procure it, be it jobs, government subsidies, food stamps, and other forms of state welfare. What are they going to do when things reach the point in our nation where they will be forced to work by the sweat of their brow to actually produce the basic things they need? And if you don’t think this will ever happen, than you have no understanding how our economic system works or how incredibly vulnerable it truly is.

Folks, we have a real cultural disaster in the making and the state is not going to save anyone except itself, and that at your loss. We must turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and by His grace obey His righteous commands, wherein He promises that if we seek first His kingdom and righteousness, that all the things we need for life will be added unto us by His mercy and grace. Now there is true hope for the here and now, something we can truly put our faith into that will enable us to press forward, once again, as biblical pioneers like our forefathers.  — The Rural Missourian

The Same Old Insanity

Posted by tcmgo1 on Jun 8th, 2010

One of the definitions of insanity is to “do the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.” Ever since man rebelled against God in the garden to go his own “free thinking” way into death and sorrow, he keeps trying the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death (Pro. 14:12) and he who sows iniquity will reap sorrow (Pro. 22:8a). Perhaps it will make some bristle to hear this, given the popular humanist gospel of the “inherent goodness and nobility of man,” but man in his fallen state is basically a blind, self-righteous rebel tenaciously driven to always do what he thinks is right until he eventually destroys others and himself in the process, especially if left unchecked.

In bringing restraint to mankind’s volatile, self-destructive nature, God mercifully cursed the ground for his sake so as to humble him by toil and real sweat (Gen. 17-19), thus putting a real restraining damper on his rebellion. God has bound mankind to continually work the earth through thistle and thorn to produce the things He needs, a difficult task, but since man hates any restrictions placed upon his self-declared freedom, he rebels even against the mercy of his Maker in continually seeking new ways to circumvent both the created order and the curse. We witness this rebellion today, for instance, with the unchecked monster of corporate agribusiness that monopolizes agriculture with unsustainable mechanization and chemicalization that dominates and greatly damages millions of acres of farmland, while also destroying the family farm and local communities that use to work it. We witness it with genetically modified plants and foods we are forced to use, and with chemicals that poison the soil and its microorganisms so that only certain “engineered” plants can grow on this “specially treated” soil, only of course after the soil has also been saturated with sufficient liquid fertilizer to spark growth. This too is madness, as we will soon see.

In insuring that mankind rightly serves God as His husbandmen in stewarding the earth (Gen. 1:26, 2:15), man was created a moral being who is to think and act by His Maker’s commandments. It shouldn’t surprise us, therefore, that since the fall there is nothing more infuriating to mankind than to be governed by the law of his Maker, which he hates with an undying, raging passion. This might explain the knee jerk reaction one usually gets from people, even from Christians, when one happens to mention the law of God as the only transcendent standard by which we are able to live. “Them are fighting words.” In every generation since the fall, mankind has united together to cast off his Maker’s life-giving and merciful restraining Law to live by his own rule (Gen. 3:5), wherein he has without exception received the same results. This too is madness.

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure. (Psalms 2:1-5)

Insanity is ever the result when man rebels against the commandments of the Lord (Deu. 28:28). Mankind was specifically created to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of his Creator (Mat. 4:4) and when he rebels so as to live by his own word (rule), the Lord grants him his suicidal desire and suffers him to do just that, to attempt to live by his own laws and statutes until he perish by them. Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live (Eze. 20:25). The hundreds of thousands of federal and state laws and regulations which dominate every aspect of our lives, eats up our substance with ever growing taxation, and strangles our freedoms, is a classic example of this.

Yes, for a season, man’s way can appear right, reasonable, even “blessed” of God, as temporal success and prosperity can come of his innovative rebellion, but time reveals soon enough what King and whose law truly prevails on earth. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret–it only causes harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth. Psalms 37:7-9

Yet, in spite of the bloody and horrific history of mankind that bears inscrutable witness to this truth, he keeps trying the same thing over and over again, believing that this time he’ll somehow get different results . . . you know, like the lyrics from Fleetwood Mac song Don’t Stop, the theme song of Bill Clinton’s election back in 1992 when the nation was inebriated with blind hope for a new America.

 
 

Don’t stop, thinking about tomorrow,
 

Don’t stop, it’ll soon be here,
 

It’ll be, better than before,
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone.
 

 

Though yesterday is gone, the same immutable laws of the Creator that governed it then remain in force today and, thus, the same results will occur when the rebel with a “righteous cause” sets out again to go his own way on the next morrow.

Like it applies to all facets of life, this truth applies to economics, which are governed just as surely by the Lord’s unchangeable law as His laws of creation govern flight. Break the laws of flight and one will surely crash. Break the laws of economics and one will just as surely crash, in due season, as has every economy in the history of mankind that has violated them, without exception.

Even so, the banking and political elite that rule our nation, along with nearly all Americans, believe somehow that the end result of our unique “American” system of debt-based economics will be different this time. Though they readily admit that the ship is in trouble, being flooded from bow to stern with debt, they adamantly believe, nevertheless, that it will triumph in preserving itself where all others have sunk into the annals of history, without exception. How will it magically save itself? In seeking to keep the ship afloat they will continue to flood it with even more ship-sinking debt, so as to create enough “economic growth” to sufficiently sink itself to the surface again. It makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

Folks, this too is insanity, pure and simple, and a particularly detrimental form where the passengers exhibit such blind faith in the captain of their ship, the Federal Reserve, that they steadfastly refuse to hear and understand the loud groaning and screeching noises coming from its bowels, nor see and understand the severe tilt it has taken on as it slowly breaks up and begins its journey to the bottom of the sea. “Pay no attention to the deck chairs and people falling into the ocean. As for those gut wrenching sounds you hear, why they are merely the everyday sounds of normal operations and course corrections!”

For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them (Matthew 13:15).

Gary North in his article, Athens Hosts The Olympiad Of Debt, describes our American economic insanity quite well, They [bankers] believe, as Congress believes, that there is no end to the floating of debt, that economic growth will overcome the debt, and that sobriety is one drink away. “We can quit borrowing at any time. We just don’t want to.” It’s not just the bankers and Congress that believe this nonsense, as I can understand the Washington Establishment’s insatiable need to stay in power through perpetual spending (read borrowing), but the vast majority of Americans also religiously profess it, even though they have been enslaved and plundered by the gospel of debt-based prosperity more than once.

But it’s no wonder, since they have to “believe” because they have pinned all their economic hopes on an ever successful—default, inflation, and crash free —voyage of the great American debt liner, less the unthinkable occur and their nesteggs go down with it. For this ship to sink is for their world to end, a totally unacceptable outcome of such staggering implications that they cannot even begin to entertain it as even remotely true, less they quickly loose hope and sink into what they think is irresolvable despair. The last thing they would believe, which sadly includes many that profess Christ, is that the Lord can make a way for them apart from debt-based, interest bearing economics, through just simply obeying His commandments by faith through grace. “Nah . . . it’s over simplistic and insulting to the great strides mankind has made to even consider such a course!”

This is why I believe that even people that are in the know as to what is actually happening, nonetheless, remain paralyzed in taking any meaningful action. “After all, who wants to look foolish or act in a panic by taking any unnecessary action that one might regret later, especially should affect their investments? Besides, the thought of an economic collapse is just too big and too consequential to wrap our minds around. No, it’s better to just “conservatively” stay on board and hope and pray for the best, rather than do anything radical like look for a lifeboat and take to the seas, looking for the Lord’s merciful deliverance.”

And what insanity America has come to! It believes that it can go on borrowing indefinitely (with compounding interest) in vastly increasing amounts without it ever really having to pay it back, that is, just keep floating debt long and hard enough and it will magically induce “economic growth” (so-called, as real growth comes from producing tangible products by real labor) of such glorious magnitude that it will overcome the debt and prosper us all. “Hurrah! . . . freedom and deliverance through debt, I knew they could do it!” As someone once said, there is a sucker born every minute, though it wasn’t PT Barnum who said it, as he actually believed more along the lines that there is a customer born every minute, which in my thinking is the same thing in these days when an unending  buffet of enticing credit and investing “products” is put before us.

Fallen man is born a rebel through and through, which also makes him a sucker and, thus, a customer who is easily deceived and plundered by those who know how the shell game of debt-based economics works. Through credit and interest bearing enticements man’s dreams, fears, and unchecked passions can readily be exploited. This is why I believe that the banking elite knows full well what they do and what the real outcome of their debt-based gospel is, the legal plundering of the labor and wealth of the masses. Frederick Bastiat, noted statesman and economist, understood the fallen nature of man and his hatred for God’s law and restraints, especially the pain of labor, which causes him to seek other ways to get his needs met.

Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property. But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder. Now since man is naturally inclined to avoid pain – and since labor is pain in itself – it follows that men will resort to plunder whenever plunder is easier than work. When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.
 
 

 

Since man is prone to forget or distort the memories of his yesterdays, believing that he just needs to keep doing the same thing over and over again until he gets different results, when one game ends in the plundering of his goods and loss of freedoms, he readily joins the next one to come along though it be run by the same ones that just robbed him. This is insanity. However, with mankind being ever the optimist in his own inherent goodness and nobility, though he continually heap death and sorrow upon himself, he will continue to destroy himself with all abandon and persevering zeal until the Lord mercifully save him through the true Gospel of peace.   There is but one God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Contrary to popular opinion, the blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it (Pro. 10:22). It’s a real soul searching question to answer, but we must all ask ourselves how much more shall we heap upon ourselves the sorrows of “man’s blessing” before we truly believe the Lord by His written word (as evidenced by faith and works — James 2:18) that the American economic system is cursed and therefore doomed, including the investments we so desperately hope will pay off. A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished (Pro. 22:3). —- The Rural Missourian

The Hen-Egg Revival and Peter’s Wife’s Mother

Posted by tcmgo1 on Jun 5th, 2010

I mentioned in an earlier post that I would like to get back to one of the original purposes for this blog, to mine the riches of history and declare the testimonies of those agrarian pioneers that blazed the paths by which our once free and prosperous nation thrived. This also includes truly humorous stories and events, which can help us both to understand and connect with those generations that have preceded us, especially in giving us much needed perspective about ours. Besides, a little merriment can do a lot for a dry spirit, especially in the troubles days we live in. This story is taken from the Centennial History of Missouri, 1821-1921, by Walter Stevens.

Rev. Theodoric Boulware, who became one of the most successful of pioneer Baptist preachers, attributed his own conversion to what was known as “the hen-egg revival” in Tennessee. Some one had taken an egg and inscribed on it, “The day of judgment is close at hand.” The story was given out that the inscription was on the egg when found in the nest. A revivalist produced the egg in the pulpit, read the inscription, and, while he did not claim that there was supernatural agency, he showed the egg and preached powerfully on the doctrine of salvation. Among the many converts was Mr. Boulware who came to Missouri and settled in Callaway. Mr. Boulware often told the story of the “hen-egg revival.” He has his own extraordinary experiences in the pulpit. Once he preached to a Callaway audience from the text, “And Peter’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever.” Among his most attentive listeners was a man who seemed most impressed. Years afterwards, Mr. Boulware preached in the same neighborhood from the same text. He said he was astonished to see the same man in the audience. That man, he said, came to him after the sermon and said: “For the Lord’s sake! Ain’t that old woman dead yet? How long do you think she will live? Poor old critter! What a lot she must have suffered these forty years. I’ll warrant she is needy. Really the people ought to send her something to help her along.”

 

Now, before you laugh at the absurdity of the hen-egg revival, perhaps we should consider how absurd it is that we highly educated and sophisticated Americans believe strongly in the amazing powers of paper eggs, which millions keep in their nesteggs in the hope that they will someday hatch into even greater riches by the super natural agency of interest.  It appears by the tens of billions of dollars that have been “invested” in paper eggs that Americans everywhere have attended paper-egg revivals throughout the land, believing in the gospel of the usurious, debt-based economics. Perhaps, someday, after we have recovered from the economic devastation that even now is humbling us that future generations of Americans will not be so gullible and will be able to look back and laugh at our absurd ways. —- The Rural Missourian

Living Assets

Posted by Rural Missourian on Oct 23rd, 2009

I never cease to marvel at the variety of tree species that abound in the forests and small woodlots around here. Like most Midwestern states, Missouri is rich in forests of amazing diversity with 149 native tree species and 34 species and hybrids of oak, alone. It isn’t unusual in our area to see a dozen or more species of white and red oak growing crown to crown, interspersed with elm, walnut, ash, hickory, honey locust, and maple, just to mention a few of the more common trees. The rich diversity of Missouri forests is due to various soil types and geological structures that make up 6 regions or natural divisions within the state. These same regions also explain Missouri’s diversity of fresh water fish with over 200 different kinds.

The Ozark Natural Division is the largest region and takes up about 40% of the state. It is situated largely south of the Missouri river between the eastern and western border corridors. This stunningly beautiful area is noted for its thickly forested hills, spring fed rivers, and limestone caves. Its soils tend to be rocky and not real conducive for farming, but work well for pasture. The Glaciated Plains Natural Division takes up another 30% and is situated largely north of the Missouri River. This area is not as hilly, especially the closer it gets to the Iowa border. Crop farming is dominant in this region due to a variety of rich soils, which also produce the largest hardwoods in the state, particularly in the river bottom areas. The Ozark Border Natural Division is the transition zone between the two larger regions and it takes up roughly 12%. The Osage Plains Natural Division lies along Missouri’s south western border and takes up another 8%. The Big Rivers Natural Division is found along the corridors of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and takes up another 5%, leaving the last 5% for a region called the Mississippi Lowlands Natural Division, which is situated in the “boot heel” area in the southeastern corner of the state.

Besides the many species and hybrids of oak, Missouri forests also produce 11 walnut species (which include hickory and pecan), 9 maple species (which include the Boxelder from which a delicious syrup can be made), 4 mulberry species (which include osage orange), and many more families with multiple species. Not all trees with the same name come from the same families, however, such as the honey locust, a member of the senna family which also includes the Kentucky coffee tree, redbud, and water locust, and the black locust, a member of the bean family, which includes the yellow wood tree, a little known tree that grows in southern Missouri. Appalachian settlers used it to make yellow dye and gunstocks.

There are many trees with unusual names and little known, though quite useful properties. Take for instance the gum bully tree, more commonly known as the wooly buckthorn, a small thorny tree with milky sap. Its strong wood is good for tool handles and cabinet making. Then there is the musclewood tree, also known as the hornbeam. It gets its name from two Old English words, horn for its hardness and beam for tree. A small tree with smooth grey bark, its wood is one of the strongest around, surpassing oak, hickory, locust, and persimmon, and is used to make golf clubs, mallets, cogs, levers, and wedges. The wahoo tree, also known as the burning bush is more of a shrub than a tree, though it does grow to 25 feet and is found in nearly every county of Missouri. Its straight stems were used by the Dakota as arrows, from whom it gets its name wahoo, wa for arrow and hu for wood. Native Americans used the inner bark to make a drink to aid in uterine discomfort and for making eye salves. The stem and root bark was used to a make paste for facial sores. The bladdernut is another small shrub-tree that gets its name from the popping noise made when the fruit is crushed. Its seed is similar in taste to the pistachio and is used as a replacement for walnuts in cookies. A sweet edible oil is made from the seed and can be used for cooking.

A very common and useful tree is the hackberry, though more often than not it is bulldozed and relegated to the rot pile with little consideration to its lumber value. Also known as the nettle or sugarberry tree, the hackberry is a large, fast growing, long lived tree that grows throughout most of Missouri. The Dakota ground its fruit and hard seeds to make a seasoning for meats and the Pawnee added them to parched corn and fat to make a simple, high energy confection, sometimes called pemmican. Native Americans also used it to make bows. Today, the wood is used today for furniture, veneer, pallets, boxes, and crates. Another very useful tree that is often considered a nuisance is the osage orange, known also as bois d’ arc (French for “wood of the bow”) and hedge, a remarkably strong, rot resistant tree that makes beautiful furniture, long bows, and excellent landscaping and fencing timber. A bright yellow dye can be made from its roots and its milky white sap has been used a glue and lacquer. Its fruit, the “hedge apple,” is a stinky, bright green, softball size fruit that looks like a brain. Though the fruit is inedible to humans, it contains tetrahydroxystilbene, an anti-fungicide that is thought by some to repel insects.

The strangely named farkleberry, which no one knows today where or why it got its name, has a number of useful purposes. Its wood is good for tool handles, its bark is used to tan hides, and its root bark is used to treat diarrhea. Lastly, there is the tropical looking paw paw tree with its smooth grey bark and large leaves. It’s noted for its delicious fruit, which is high in vitamin C, iron, and is a good source of potassium, which also happens to taste like a cross between custard and bananas.

I am convinced that there isn’t a tree that does not have a created purpose. Some species are particularly suited for wind breaks and to help prevent erosion along stream banks and areas of run off. Others provide vital cover and feed for wildlife. Still others provide excellent lumber for construction or woodmaking, not to mention food and various medicinal benefits. Trees are renewable resources that flourish when properly stewarded, a gift from God to be used to the glory of His name. Nonetheless, since the American people over the last 70 years have gone from being producers and innovators to consumers and spectators, we have regressed as a culture to where we know little of the real potential of the living assets that grow around us, having become content with the glued chipboard and plastic veneer products we get from China and other nations that do our manufacturing for us. To regain a productive worldview culturally, we must return to being conscientious stewards of the local resources God has blessed us with and persevering builders of local economies based upon local production and innovation. — The Rural Missourian

Saved By A Tree

Posted by Rural Missourian on Mar 7th, 2009

In the frantic world of financial woes, thinking long-term when one has a chance to make good money in the immediate is a rare quality. We see the short-term today with landowners that are quick to clear cut their forests to make a quick buck, rather than steward them to develop healthy forests that yield premium lumber on a sustainable basis for the generations to come. I want to share an amazing story about one tree and a farmer that, though it has a bittersweet ending, exemplifies the long-term vision that is lacking today. During the Great Depression Lloyd Hayes lived in Williams County, Ohio, where he farmed and like so many in the Midwest had a woodlot with walnut trees. There was one tree in particular, a beautiful black walnut with a flawless trunk that was straight as an arrow, for which someone offered him $300 in the early days of the 1930’s. In 2009 dollars that was $4,625, which was a fortune back then when thousands lost their farms and many stood in long soup lines just to eat. Even though it was a tempting sum of money during a time when it would have made a huge difference, Lloyd decided to let the tree grow, a living asset that could be cashed in later after it matured.

After he died in 1972, Mr. Hay’s family was hit with sizable inheritance taxes, which put them in a real quandary if they wanted to keep the family farm intact. They were forced to sell some of its land or sell some trees. As the tree next to the black gold tree had been recently struck by lightning, they decided to sell the mature giant before it was next. In 1976 they sold a total of 18 black walnut trees for $80,000, which included the black gold tree. In 2009 dollars that is a whopping $296,860!

[On a side note — This only testifies to the appalling decrease in the purchasing power of the dollar since the Federal Reserve began to debase it in 1913. You might be shocked to realize that the dollar has lost 95% of its value since 1913. To check this out for yourself go to the Inflation Calculator on the web, which keeps track of the purchasing power of the dollar since 1913. We are close to its total collapse where it will become worthless (as all fiat currencies have in history) along with “paper investments” denominated in it such as pensions, 401k’s, etc. This is why I keep hammering the point that you should get out of paper now, even if it means taking a hit on taxes or penalties, and put it into land and a means of production. I remember vividly walking the streets of Mira Flores, an affluent suburb of Lima, Peru, during its economic meltdown of the early 1990’s and seeing money blowing about, as inflation destroyed it daily. My father-in-law, who worked hard his whole life and put aside a decent retirement nestegg, saw it devalue into a pittance. Yes, the principle was still intact along with its accrued interest, but it barely paid the electric bill when it was finally needed.]

What is remarkable is that the one black gold tree that was allowed to mature sold for $30,000, which in 2009 dollars is $111,300 . . . not a bad return on a living asset. This tree yielded a 57 foot, grade A veneer log (defect free) that measured 38.50 inches in diameter at breast height (4.5 ft off the ground), which would have rendered more than 2,300 board feet (Doyle scale). Now that’s a tangible asset . . . true wealth. What a bittersweet story that this asset that Lloyd Hays so wisely allowed to mature had to be used to pay inheritance taxes to save the family farm, but they did have it, which is the point.

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall . . .

Posted by Rural Missourian on Feb 21st, 2009

“We witnessed the collapse of the financial system. It was placed on life support, and it’s still on life support. There’s no sign that we are anywhere near a bottom.”

So stated billionaire George Soros at a dinner held at Columbia University on February 20, 2009 (Soros sees no bottom for world “financial” collapse). He made the very sobering claims that the world financial system effectively disintegrated (starting with the collapse of Leman Brothers in September) and the turbulence we now suffer is more severe than the Great Depression, much like the demise of the Soviet Union. I concur with his assessment.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the King’s trillions and all the King’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.

Because the mother’s milk of a culture is its economic system, we are not witnessing just the collapse of the world’s financial institutions, but the cultures that have been built from them, especially ours, which has for several generations been the world’s premier “show home” for modeling the sophisticated debt-based culture. My biggest concern for the collapse of the world’s financial system has not been the high likelihood that it cannot be restored, as that would actually be a blessing in disguise given what a curse it has been in the destruction of the family, our Christian foundations, and the republic born of them. What concerns me is that our nation will emerge as something far different than any of us ever imagined.

If it comes out a humbled third world country, which is a distinct possibility, I could live with it as difficult as it would be, as that would open the doors to the Gospel as our nation hasn’t experienced since the days prior to the War for Independence. On the other hand, while many may think it would be a wonderful answer to prayer should America pull out of its present depression to resume business as usual, I think it would lead to horrific circumstances in the long run, if our decades long decline into state sponsored hedonism and perversion is any indication. How long will the Lord suffer us to kill the unborn, promote sexual perversion, and worship the financial gods of modern man? Though it may be pleasant for a season, worshipping mammon has enormous generational consequences.

Something we need to remember to keep us from total panic is that financial systems collapse, but not economies — per say — as they simply adjust to financial conditions, even catastrophic ones. Even in the worst days of Peru’s inflationary disaster of the 1980’s and 90’s, a robust “black market” flourished, which was the life line for many, especially the poor. No matter what happens to financial systems, the constant need to eat, drink, and live always remains and humans can be quite resourceful in establishing rudimentary economies, especially where local markets are free to build. It’s when government acts as a savior in trying to save the people through collectivism and monetary alchemy that nightmarish calamities occur, which can exact a huge human toll, as we see in Zimbabwe, where unemployment has hit 94% and people are starving.

Given the growing collectivist bent of federal policy and the trillions being thrown at our collapsed financial system, there is the possibility that in addition to emerging as a third world country that a police state could emerge in America, as our colossal central government desperately seeks to keeps its enormous power, which could involve all kinds of confiscatory schemes, if history is any indication. That said, I would much rather have the hand of God’s chastising love humble us to our very core in taking everything down to where governments and economies are once again local, than for His hand of wrath to uphold a move into an ironfisted totalitarian state.

The dilemma that American Christendom faces in having embraced debt-based economics for many generations reminds me of the dilemma that David faced when he sinned against the Lord in numbering the people and its armies, only our generational sin is on a much larger and consequential scale. He was given three choices for the punishment of his sin, all of which were to be brought upon the people. He wisely chose God’s hand of chastisement over the wrath of wicked man.

2 Samuel 24:10-16

10 And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.”11 Now when David arose in the morning, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying,12 “Go and tell David, ‘Thus says the Lord: “I offer you three things; choose one of them for yourself, that I may do it to you.” ‘ “13 So Gad came to David and told him; and he said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or shall you flee three months before your enemies, while they pursue you? Or shall there be three days’ plague in your land? Now consider and see what answer I should take back to Him who sent me.”14 And David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” 15 So the Lord sent a plague upon Israel from the morning till the appointed time. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand men of the people died.16 And when the angel stretched out His hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, the Lord relented from the destruction, and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “It is enough; now restrain your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was by the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

Americans have got to awaken out of their fairy tale world where nothing really bad happens to them that money cannot fix. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows (1 Timothy 6:10). It has been their love affair with “money” that lulled them into the comatose like stupor that made them totally oblivious to the decades long destruction of their once free America, which began in earnest in 1913 when the Federal Reserve took over the nation’s financial system. Sadly, the American people sold their birthright for a bowl of fiat gruel. If ever we are to get back on our feet as a free nation under God we need to not only think “outside the box,” but repent from the gilded box of debt-based economics, which has become an inescapable plantation for the American slaves we have become. May God be merciful to us that He would awaken our hearts to Him that we may become the answer to our nation’s woeful circumstances, as we repent from being its cause in breaking covenant with Him to embrace the fiat gods of the Federal Reserve and Wallstreet (2Chronicles 7:14). — The Rural Missourian

What’s A “Reformed Church?”

Posted by Rural Missourian on Feb 13th, 2009

Some of you in commenting on my last post on The “Agrarian” Minded Church, asked me what I meant by a “reformed church.” It’s a great question that I felt be best answered in another post, rather than as just a passing comment, though my meager answer below does not do it justice, by any means. Simply put, a reformed church is one that subscribes to the “Reformed Faith,” which says far more than what appears. As I acknowledge there are variations to the position I hold, I ask my fellow brothers and sisters that ascribe to the Reformed Faith to grant me some room here in presenting (from my postmillennial-covenantal worldview) a brief, very limited description of the “Reformed Faith.” My intention here is to help give understanding to my previous post on the “Agrarian” Minded Church, and not to start a massive diatribe or debate. It would take several lengthy posts to even begin to address the rich theology and glorious history behind the Reformed Faith, which unbeknownst to most Americans today was very common among the churches in America in its early days. It was the Reformed Faith of the Puritans, Pilgrims, Baptists, and other Calvinistic minded churches that established the early communities and colonies that eventually formed our country and the one that guided our founders to give us biblically constituted forms of government that establish executive, legislative, and judiciary branches (Isa. 33:22) as checks and balances against civil tyranny.

The Reformed faith was born of the Great Reformation that took place in Europe between the 1300’s and 1600’s and spread as light to the shores of America. Its foundation is based upon the Doctrines of Grace, otherwise referred to by many as Calvinism, which emphasizes that salvation is all of God’s grace, the sole work of the Holy Spirit unaided by any human effort or cooperation. Because fallen man is born dead (not mostly dead) in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-3), an enemy of God by virtue of his inherent depraved nature (Rom. 5:10, 8:7), he is utterly unable to choose life, thus, regeneration precedes both faith and conversion (Rom. 8:29-30, Eph. 2:4-10), and not the other way around as is taught in the doctrine of Decisional Regeneration, where the unregenerate man decides to exercise faith, which action leads to the Lord regenerating him.

Reformed theology employs a covenantal approach to understanding Scripture, where the Lord is Sovereign over all aspects of His creation, where Jesus Christ, King over all rulers and High Priest of the New Covenant, is seated at the right hand of Father on His throne in Heaven, exercising all authority both in Heaven and earth over all powers, principalities, rulers, and over every name that is named.

Most regrettably, however, the Reformed faith over the last several generations has for some become a tradition where application is wanting, though its organic concept stems from the biblical mandate that the Lord’s people in every generation are—by God’s grace as He works in them both to will and do according to His good pleasure (Heb. 13:20-21)—to reform all of their ways according to the Word of God, the standard for the whole of man for the whole of life, as they love God in keeping His commandments (1John 5:2-5).

The worldview born of the Reformed Faith is not one of doom & gloom and pessimistic fatalism, but is hope filled, proactive, though decidedly sober, that unreservedly advances the cause and crown rights of Christ in preaching and living out the glorious Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Neither is it a pie-in-sky worldview that sees the world through rosy glasses, since it is also biblically covenantal, which means that the Lord is faithful and just to judge His people when they rebel and break covenant, just as He blesses them when they obey and keep covenant with Him. The testimony of God’s people under both the Old and New Covenants shows a history of ups and downs, which reflects their battle with the flesh Gal. 5:16-17, where at times they flourish in obedience and only to be followed by times where they drift into generational sin and fall into captivity (a covenantal sanction) under their enemies (which is where I see American Christendom today). I highly recommend that the reader carefully read Nehemiah chapter nine, since it details the up and down history of Israel and, most importantly, gives the reason and the solution, a return to faithful covenant keeping, which the Lord mercifully works in them.

But as I am covenantally postmillennial in my worldview, I see the present dire circumstances of our nation’s rapid plunge into economic chaos and cultural destruction, not as the cataclysmic end of a world ostensively ruled by the devil (for he has already been dethroned – John 12:30-32, 16:7-11, Heb. 2:14-15), but as the Lord’s just wrath and sore chastisement (covenantal sanctions) upon America for the generational covenant breaking of American Christendom, which turned its back on Him (particularly His commandments) to embrace the peace and prosperity of our nation’s wicked economic system (Deu. 23:6, Ezra 9:12-15) that now enslaves the American people under perpetual debt (just as Thomas Jefferson warned us).

Being the ever faithful covenant keeper (Deu. 7:9-10, Psa. 103:17-19, 2Cor. 1:18-22), the Lord without fail keeps His word with His people throughout all their generations. Though we are discovering just how much that can hurt (Jer. 30:12-17, Heb. 10:29-31, 12:5-13), it is truly good news, as well, for He is merciful with His people and does leave them under His judgments without tangible hope (Psa. 35, 103: 8-19)!

Jeremiah 29:10-14

10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

 

Now if God was this merciful with His people under the Old Covenant, how much more merciful is He under the New Covenant, which is far better being based upon better promises (Heb. 8:6)? Contrary to popular theological pessimism, there is a biblical remedy for our dire circumstances, as there has always been for the Lord’s people when they find themselves under the yoke of the wicked (because of their generational disobedience). If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chr. 7:14). Contrary to Hollywood disaster movies where salvation and restoration happens overnight, the healing of our nation, the Lord willing (which I think He is as demonstrated throughout history), will not happen over night nor without tremendous painful cost for the consequences of our generational sins will take some time, likely a few generations, to work through (Psa. 99:8).

In attempting to answer the question first posed I know that I have likely opened the door to many more questions and plenty of doctrinal challenges, which goes with the territory. I hope, however, that I have given enough to the reader that they might know what I mean in an overall sense by a reformed church. As you can see I by no means made the attempt systematically. As there is such diversity among reformed churches, I have purposely left out church polity, worship and liturgy styles, practices, etc. Here is a link to a website where a number of articles have been posted on the subject: Reformed Theology. Here is also a link to great website on the Puritans and Puritanism, A Puritan’s Mind. — The Rural Missourian

The “Agrarian” Minded Church

Posted by Rural Missourian on Feb 11th, 2009

As I have been dialoging with various like-minded reformed denominations in seeking to find a home for CRC Rayville, a question has frequently crossed my mind. How many agrarian minded reformed churches are out there? With so many different definitions for agrarian, I need to briefly describe what I mean by an agrarian minded church, which requires that I define what I mean by agrarian. I derived my definition from the Scriptures and not from its basic dictionary definition, for the term agrarian has any number of meanings and connotations.

It’s best that I start first, however, with two dictionary definitions of the word agrarian. From Chambers Dictionary of Etymology (1988) we get the following entomological definition:

Agrarianadj. 1618, borrowed through Middle French in the phrase loy agrarienne agrarian law, from Latin agrarious of the land, from ager (genitive agri) field . . .

From the American Dictionary Of The English Language (1828) we get the following definition:

 

AGRARIAN, a. [L. agararious, from ager, a field] Relating to lands. Appropriately, denoting or pertaining to an equal division of lands; as, the agrarian laws of Rome, which distributed the conquered and other public lands equally among all the citizens, limiting the quantity which each might enjoy. Authors sometimes use the word as a noun, an agrarian, for agrarian law.

 

 

We see from the outset that the word agrarian is not talking about the vocation of farming (agriculture), as some think, but to law that deals with land, specifically with its distribution as in “the agrarian laws of Rome.” This leads to an important question. Who actually owns the land and by what terms is it to be possessed? More so, the answer to this question, since it deals with sovereignty, also will determine who decides how the land is to be used and by whom. Is it man or the Lord who has the final say? So we see already that this subject is far bigger than the word agrarian suggests for it deals with the whole of the earth and the whole of mankind.

Though fallen man ardently affirms that he is the owner of the earth, as he is ever seeking to take dominion of it through unending wars and ever increasing taxation, the Scriptures make it quite clear that the Lord, as the Creator of earth and mankind, is the sole owner of both of them (Deu. 10:14, Rom. 9:21) and, thus, the SOVEREIGN over all. The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein (Psa. 24:1). It is thus the will of our Sovereign God, as understood by His Law Agrarian, which determines who is to possess the earth and by what terms is he to take dominion of it, live and multiply on it (Gen. 1:28, Psa. 37:7-9).

We are taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of the earth (1Tim. 6:13-16, Rev. 1:4-5, 17:14), to pray that God’s will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven (Luke 11:2). Of course, the preaching of Gospel of the Kingdom and the discipling of the nations is central to this, but what about the earth itself? Does the Lord’s will for the earth also include specifics on how His people are to possess it, to live and multiply on it, as they live out their lives in successive generations while preaching and living out the Gospel? I say yes and contend that the two work hand in hand, for what other meaning can be given to the calling of the Lord’s people as the salt of the earth and light of the world, but that they are to act as the standard for all of mankind (1Tim. 3:15) in the building of godly cultures on earth in submission to the Lord, as the Gospel takes root in their hearts and begins to bear fruit. It is in the discipling of the nations (made from every nation, tribe, and tongue scattered throughout the earth) wherein they are taught Christ’s commandments and how to keep them (Mat. 28:20) that the Lord’s disciples learn not only how to love each other but how to live on the earth. Ought we not, therefore, to regard the earth with all knowledge and wisdom in serving the Lord as its stewards?

This stewardship began in the garden where God ordained man as the earth’s cultivator and guardian. Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend [work, cultivate it] and keep [guard] it (Gen. 2:15). The first calling of mankind in service to His Creator was as a working steward of the land from which the Lord would provide his physical needs, for the earth was specifically created to be tended and guarded by him, and that, according to the commandments of its Maker. This was in conjunction with the commission given to Adam and Eve to “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28). It only makes sense that the Creator (Gen. 1-2) and Owner (Psa. 24:1) of the earth should also issue the manual for its stewardship (2Tim 3:16-17).

God created man to be totally dependent upon Him in a moral, accountable manner that has direct earthly consequences, depending upon his obedience or disobedience to His commandments, the terms of the stewardship. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'” (Mat. 4:4) Thus, the Lord makes a very clear correlation between mankind’s conduct on the earth as its stewards and its productivity, both in bounty and barrenness.

Leviticus 26:3-4

3 ‘If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them ,4 then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

Deuteronomy 11:16-17

 

16 “Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them,17 “lest the Lord’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.
 

 

Every man, woman, and child on earth, no matter whether they fear God or deny his existence, whether they knowingly tend the earth as unto Him or deny that they have any such responsibility, whether dead in their trespasses and sins or alive in Christ, are by the creation mandate the Lord’s stewards of the very earth they live and multiply on, and are accountable to Him for their every action. Man is not a free agent to live on the earth as he pleases, as though it is an expendable commodity that can be exploited anyway he chooses. A man may choose to abandon his wife to live “freely” as he pleases. His escape doesn’t mean, however, that he is not still a husband and accountable for his marriage. In the same way mankind may have long ago abandoned his calling as the Lord’s steward of the earth to live on it as he pleases, but it doesn’t mean that he is not a steward and accountable for his stewardship. He may be an absentee steward, but his still a steward.

Just because the Lord is merciful, good to all, and bestows His common grace upon both the just and the unjust (Psa. 145:9, Mat. 5:43-45, Acts 14:15-17), doesn’t mean that each and every human is not directly accountable to the Lord for how they live on the earth. Appearances can be deceiving, however, especially over short periods of time where things appear to prosper regardless of faith or its absence (Psa. 73:1-18), as though it is a “neutral” subject. The Lord’s gracious longsuffering with mankind’s sin must not ever be confused with any notion that He cares not how mankind lives on earth or what by means he builds culture (2Pet. 3:9). Every aspect of human culture at every level as it is developed on the earth—its faith; ethics and moral standards; famial, ecclesiastical, and civil governments; economics and money; judicial systems and the exacting of justice and mercy; agriculture; manufacturing; technology; science, engineering, and all aspects of education; and every aspect of human life—is to be governed by the commandments of the Lord in our love and worship of Him (1John 5:3-4). The biblical statement, whatsoever is not of faith is sin, applies to all we humans do, both for the saved and the lost alike.

In a practical, down-to-earth sense we Christians, as stewards of the Lord’s earth, the salt of the earth and light of the world, who have been commissioned by Him to take the Gospel of the Kingdom to the nations to make disciples of Him and teach them to observe His commandments, are in its daily outworking to apply the whole of God’s Law to the whole of life to all we do on the earth. This is what I mean by agrarian. What ties the whole of our duties together is the New Covenant. As we keep covenant with God in seeking first His Kingdom and Righteousness, so we fulfill by grace through faith our various duties according to His will, and, as He promised, He adds unto His people all things necessary for life on earth (Mat. 6:33). The priority is God and Kingdom first, and life on earth second. Thus, the biblically agrarian focus is not on cultivating and stewarding the earth, not on preaching the Gospel to win souls and make disciples, not on any of one of our duties, important as they are, but on Christ, Whom we are to love with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. And there is only way to love God and our fellow brothers and sisters but by keeping the commandments of God, which are not burdensome, but effectual in overcoming the world by our faith in Christ (1John 5:1-5).

Now, as much as I cringe to have given such a brief, incomplete definition, I am forced too come back to the purpose of this post. Before I finish it, I must say that I have found by experience that no matter how careful one is to define their terms and clearly present their ideas, that someone is going to take them wrong and ascribe all kinds of evil to them, or go the opposite direction and read far too much into them. This is especially true when one attempts to describe a work they are involved in. Misunderstandings will abound, nonetheless, we must communicate with each other the best we can, trusting the Lord that His will be done in these matters. To that end, I hope I communicated well enough what I mean by agrarian.

Our church here in Rayville is looking for like-agrarian-minded reformed (there’s another loaded word) churches to alliance with. We are not talking about perfect churches where everyone of its members would make the cover of Better Home Businesses and Gardens. All churches have their weaknesses, blind spots, and shortcomings. There is no believer or church that has “arrived.” All of us are somewhere in the transition between the old life dominated by the old man and carnal mind and the abundant life led by the Spirit who renews our minds. Lastly, lest we be accused of being Luddites, we are not talking about churches that are hidden in the boondocks where all its members forsake electricity, don sanctified “agrarian” clothing, and farm for a living.

But, as we do hold that covenant keeping is central to the life of the believer and the church, as the testimonies of the Scriptures bear witness as well as history, particularly the early days of colonial America, we believe that the biblical model for the local church—acting as the salt of the earth and light of the world in being the standard for human culture in proclaiming and living out the Gospel of the Kingdom—necessitates that its members live in close proximity to each other, wherein the vast majority of them in keeping covenant with each other live where they work and worship, as they labor separately and together in various vocations to be productive stewards as unto the Lord. Of course, there will be exceptions due to particular circumstances in the lives of believers and in different types of ministries and vocations, but for sure the local church is to be known by the local, visible community it has defined and built.

In its most biblically prosperous and free time America use to be covered with hundreds of such distinctly Christian communities. Except for the Amish (and a few other like minded communities), the days are long gone in America when the local church was the central hub of a local community, where its members employed a common worldview and moral ethic that shaped the character of the community, where its members worked on or near the same land they lived and could pass it on to their children in generational continuity, where they could interact daily with each other and render help at a moment’s notice, and where they could labor together and pool resources and equipment to be effectual producers of various products and services to establish a local economy, which is one of the greatest preservers of civil and religious freedom. I feel that it is from this position of strength and deep community character, that the local church can best duplicate itself in various missionary endeavors.

To their credit, the Amish publish a newspaper, The Budget, which serves the Amish-Mennonite communities throughout the Americas. On the front cover is an extensive index which lists each community by it’s location and the page where one can go to read the news specific to it. When was the last time that reformed churches in America were noted by the vibrant local communities they had formed? I believe that American Christendom is long overdue for a great reformation. Perhaps it’s time that biblically agrarian minded churches unite together by covenant in forming alliances (confederations, denominations) where its member churches live in such proximity that together they can play a role once again in forming the surrounding culture?

In the meanwhile, as the Lord directs us, we shall continue to seek an alliance such as we can. To that end, we invite inquiries by churches and denominations. May God grant us all that we come into the unity of the true faith. — The Rural Missourian

Quotes & Quips — February 5, 2009

Posted by Rural Missourian on Feb 5th, 2009

These quotes deal with the economic history of Missouri. At one time it was the mule capital of the world and the developer and source for the world famous “Missouri Mule,” a large, dependable, docile, hardworking mule that could handle the equipment necessary to work the rich, deep soils of Missouri and those of surrounding states. At one time the small family farm flourished here in Missouri and it was due almost entirely to the many advantages of the draft mule. Other than the Bootheel of southeast Missouri, the wooded, hilly farmlands of Missouri are not conducive to mono crop agriculture or large corporate farms . . . thank God . . . but to the small family farm, which I believe to be the biblical model for sustainable stewardship and generational prosperity.  I believe employing living assets to work the land that can be sustained without having to go into life long debt is the biblical model for sustainable agriculture.  What do you think?   Feel free to join in discussing where we are today and where you think we need to go.

Hired farm workers were an integral part of commercial and most family farms early in the 20th century. As employment opportunities increased with industrial development in cities, farmers found a decreasing supply of farm “hands” in their communities. This situation, combined with the mobilization of armed forces for World War I, left farmers short handed. Yet, at the same time, they were urged to increase food production. The result stimulated larger hitches (more animals per driver) and a response by machinery companies who manufactured larger machines. To pull this machinery, larger sized mules and horses were needed.

(Melvin Bradley, The Missouri Mule: His Origin and Times)

In Missouri by the end of World War II the tractor began to rapidly replace the draft animal and, ultimately, the small family farm, which augmented itself handsomely every year by breeding and raising draft mules (and horses). With the nation’s manufacturing working at full capacity in supplying the war, when it ended it had to be quickly converted to peace time manufacturing to keep the post Depression momentum going. This grew into the enormous agribusiness system of today, which, sadly, has turned farmers into consumer slaves of bigger and more complex technology, all geared around the corporate control of our nation’s farmland. The economic behemoth of corporate agribusiness was entirely built through credit (debt-based) driven economics, which is now in major decline, as the debt load has finally caught up with reality. As we are no longer a manufacturing economy, and as only a very small percentage of the populace work the land anymore, where does this leave a nation going into a depression that will far surpass the one of the 1930’s? The credit driven, corporate agrarianism of today is simply not sustainable, for it works against the God ordained scale of creation where the land is to be carefully stewarded at the local level of family and community.

The part that mule production played in the farm economy of Missouri is truly amazing. In Missouri there are a third of a million mules and they currently pass as coin. The country banker looks upon them about as he would as cash and places them first in the collateral column.

(April 23, 1913 edition of the Breeder’s Gazette)

The chief reason the mule was considered as good as coin (back when it was made of gold or silver) was because it was a form of true wealth, a tangible means of production that not only produced labor but also manure, which the farmer could put back into his land to help sustain it. Likewise, mules consumed fuel the farmer could raise himself, thus he was able to provide a good portion of his farming needs from what he produced himself off his own land, which included breeding his working mules from mare stock that earned their keep doing light farm work and jack stock that took very little to keep healthy. The small family farm back in the days of draft animal power was in many ways truly self sustaining.

Thousands of two- and three-year mules were loaned by dealers and owners to persons who could not afford to buy them for a summer’s work. The borrower “broke” the mules to work and returned them that fall after harvest. If the mules had been well cared for, they were worth considerably more to the owner than when the deal was struck. Thus, both parties usually benefited from this time honored practice and many farmers and dealers maintained this arrangement for years.

(Melvin Bradley, The Missouri Mule: His Origin and Times)

Here you have a biblically charitable form of loaning that did not enslave the borrower (Pro. 22:7). The farmer who for whatever reasons could not afford a team to work his land could borrow a young team and by adding his labor and know how to it both work his farm for a season and increase the value of the team. He gets his crop in and the mule owner receives back a more valuable asset, a win-win situation. There were no usurious agreements made that guaranteed a return to the mule owner, no matter what. The mule owner had to trust the farmer’s skill and quality of care and the farmer had to trust that the team was comprised of quality mules that had no hidden problems. They both shared in the gain and the losses. This could never happen with a tractor that begins to lose value the second it is used.

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