Tornado Outbreak

Posted by Missouri Rev on Mar 18th, 2006

Perhaps like yours, our weather this past winter has been very interesting, to say the least. It all started last Thanksgiving with a small tornado that came past us about 5 miles to the west after doing some damage in a nearby town. The alert tone went off on our NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Association) weather radio — a real good idea for anybody living in the tornado belt — indicating a tornado warning, take cover. In as much as I am not a fan of our behemoth central government I have to admit that this particular agency has done some good, as many lives have been spared through their advanced storm warning system.

The radio alert reported a tornado (a funnel cloud on the ground) west of us possibly heading our direction. We immediately went for the basement where I soon brought up Doppler radar on my computer, which showed a small storm cell some miles to the west of us. This peaked my curiosity and being an avid weather buff I took a quick look outdoors and discovered clear, starry skies above us with a slight breeze, but to the northwest, as the radar indicated, was a furious little ball of clouds and lightning zooming along to the Northeast. My daughter and I went outside to watch this amazing action. This was after dark on a late November evening, yet it was 70 degrees and beautifully humid, something more akin to April and May when the tornado season is normally active. What a show to behold! With the lightning flashing frequently you could see the tornado moving right along, yet way above and around this small storm you could see the stars. Thank the Lord there were no injuries and relatively minor damage.

From that time until last Sunday we have had a quiet, warm winter with a few short cold snaps and little snow. Until last Sunday I say, as Missouri’s worst tornado outbreak in recorded history unleashed upon us and it was awesome.

Who said, “Let us take for ourselves the pastures of God for a possession.” O my God, make them like the whirling dust, like the chaff before the wind! As the fire burns the woods, and as the flame sets the mountains on fire, so pursue them with Your tempest, and frighten them with Your storm. Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek Your name, O Lord. Let them be confounded and dismayed forever; yes, let them be put to shame and perish, that they may know that You, whose name alone is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:12-18

It will be several months before a tally is made of all the tornados, which will likely be in the dozens. There were six deaths statewide and extensive damage, though not anything like the Tri-state tornado of March 18, 1925, which ripped through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana killing 695 people. An F5 tornado (the worst it can get), it tracked continuously on the ground for 219 miles and 3.5 hours averaging from ¾ to 3 miles wide, obliterating four communities and destroying over 15,000 homes in the process. Sunday’s outbreak was quite mild in comparison; none of the tornadoes appear to have been bigger than a F2, with the longest one tracking continuously on the ground for only about 19 miles. Yesterday, while traveling over into Carroll County to check out an Amish lumber mill, I saw extensive debris in many of the surrounding fields along the way – huge sheets of twisted sheet metal and pieces of lumber. (I’ll be reporting on this visit with the Amish later as I had a very interesting time with them and am scheduled to spend some more time with them in the next few weeks learning the ins and outs of “sawyering” Amish style.)

Sunday morning during the first storm wave (of three) we suffered here in Rayville a major hailstorm with golf ball size and larger stones. We were truly spared compared to many areas throughout the state that suffered extensive damage from baseball size and larger hail. I became a minor casualty when I went outside at the beginning of it to cover the only car we had that was dent free. We covered it with a tarp, blankets, and thick rugs to no avail. In the process a large hailstone zinged in and smacked an exposed wrist (I was well covered with a heavy coat and hat) causing it to immediately bruise and bleed, and this only 30 minutes before we were to start worship services. All things considered, we had much to pray and thank the Lord for.

Since the National Weather Service (NWS) had predicted the threat of tornadoes for most of the day, we spent the afternoon with some members of the church while two more waves of tornadic activity came through. Our antique church basement is a virtual “Fort Knox” with its many thick walls of concrete and, thus, makes a great place to retreat when the weather yogurt is about to hit the fan. We are blessed that one of the members of our church is an advanced HAM radio operator and seasoned storm spotter, which really is a plus here in Missouri. When the NWS announced during the second wave that we had a possible tornado coming our way I went outside with him to spot and report it, if possible, something I recommend doing very carefully and during the daylight . . . Doppler radar within the confines of a basement is the best place at night, in my opinion. Even during the day many tornados cannot be easily seen, especially if wrapped in rain or just starting where there is not a lot of debris or rain within it to make it manifest. Though a tornado did not appear, thank God, we did witness a huge, low hanging wall cloud that was rotating to beat the band as it boiled and roared directly over us. It was breathtaking! A short time later it spawned off a tornado in a county just northeast of us. We were spared again. Thank you Lord!

Now that we have finished winter with the largest spring type tornado outbreak in its history, we are entering spring with what will likely be the largest snowstorm of the season, which is predicted for this Sunday through Tuesday. Ah yes, the futility of men to try to predict the weather according their suppression of the truth (Rom. 1:18-21) that it is the Lord that directs the weather to His glory that His righteousness be revealed to the nations. Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed (Isa. 56:1). After all I have seen this winter, I wonder what’s in store for New Orleans after they dedicated the latest Marti Gra to God, that He would bless it!

Turkeys and the Expensive Fork

Posted by Missouri Rev on Feb 24th, 2006

While driving home from Richmond today I took my usual meandering backwoods route. I enjoy studying the land — the farms, forests, creeks, and hollers that make up my county. The dirt roads are nearly always empty, leaving me room to cruise along at about 15 mph, which is very useful in turkey counting, a pastime my daughter and I took up some years ago. Today I counted 104 turkeys between 3 separate flocks that were moving through some soybean and corn fields about 2 miles from home. The record thus far is 144 turkeys. No matter how many or how often I see these beautiful birds, I am always blessed to behold the bountiful creation of God. What’s unknown by most, however, is the fact that all turkeys wear a calendar watch and, thus, disappear during the hunting season, as if it was planned. I sometimes wonder if they are off attending turkey survival school during these times. Last year on the last day of the fall turkey season I set up a camouflaged blind in a field where the turkeys are known to frequent in the evening before roosting in the large trees nearby. I never so much as saw a turkey, though I did hear some tittering in the bushes on the other side of the field, well out of range of course. Exactly 24 hours later I drove by the same field and wouldn’t you know it, a flock of 12 plump turkeys was casually meandering towards the exact spot where my blind had been set and had come within 15 yards of it with the sun in their feathered faces. It must be a conspiracy . . . I can still hear them tittering.

I am the reacquainted and humbled owner of a rather expensive fork. Not that it started out expensive, as it is one of those cheap bimetal forks from China that most “financially challenged” pastors are quite familiar with. It became very expensive, however, upon the discovery of a journey it mysteriously took . . . into the inner sanctum of the primary “porcelain pony” of our household. You know how the routine goes; it backs up and you get out the plunger and bingo, it’s back to normal. Only in this case “back to normal” lasted just a few days, whereupon Mount Vesuvius gave us another unpopular announcement. With our muscles aching from plunging the problem to death, we sought a more aggressive remedy . . . the toilet snake. After a thorough and vigorous use, our pony relented briefly to normality, only to announce further problems a day or two later, but now the problem was reoccurring faster. Thank God, we have two more toilets in the church sanctuary, even if the heat is turned way down during the winter, except on the Lord’s Day. The brisk temperatures make for quick visits . . . hmmm, maybe if I left the heat down during the service more people would be apt to return quickly to one of my “short sermons” following a visit to the facilities. After applying the big guns — our community roto-rooter — to no avail, I began to wonder if something else was amiss, so I removed the stool from its base, cleaned it, and then tested it in the bathtub, which was semi-conclusive and just enough to lead me – Inspector Porcelain – in the wrong direction. I then tested the drain pipe with large quantities of water and it appeared normal. With the mystery intensifying, a suggestion was made that the drain vent was somehow blocked. To check this out one of the brethren from our church put on his coveralls and descended through a narrow opening (for which I do not fit) into the pit below the bathroom. He soon sorted out the myriad of pipes that converge there and found the correct vent stack. After testing it briefly it was determined that it was, after all, the wayward pony. I soon procured a suitable replacement (tall enough for the tall man I am) and installed it. Of course, the old tank had a different bolt pattern than the new base, so a new tank was needed as well. So after $100 dollars and plenty of poor investigative work on my part, our porcelain pony was back to perfect working condition, a real relief to my family! I’ll never take for granted how great a working toilet really is. Now, with my curiosity peeked and having a real desire to commence a rapid and glorious departure of the failed pony, I took a hammer to it and soon discovered the battered fork firmly lodged within it. How it got there I’ll never know. The only clues I have thus far point to the mysterious household troublemaker all of us know by the name of “I don’t know.” With all I have in this ugly fork I suppose I ought to mount it somewhere as a reminder.

A Wonderful Day!

Posted by Missouri Rev on Feb 14th, 2006

Today was a wonderfully warm day and perfect for taking a hike, which I did with my wife and youngest daughter. We headed over to a favorite area of ours in the Crooked River valley (about 3 miles) and hiked around a heavily wooded hill bordered almost entirely on the eastside by a long pond shaped a like a bony finger. During the summer the glorious cacophony of frogs and insects that make it their community is nearly deafening, though now the quite breezes blowing through its many water logged stumps are a melodious prelude to the concerto which will burst forth in about seven weeks. In the fields across from it were thousands of blackbirds feeding on the corn and flying rapidly about in stunning unison, as the unseen hand of God directed this swirling cloud of feathered acrobats to His praise and glory. I can’t say how much we enjoyed filling our lungs with the rich rural air, hearing all the birds singing praises to their Creator in simple melodious sonnets, feeling the oak leaves crunching under our feet, and seeing the many grasses swaying to the gentle breezes.

On the west side near a small pond where we harvest bullfrogs during the summer, we stopped at a recently plowed field to break up a handful of the black soil between our fingers while smelling its wonderfully sweet bouquet, something all of us have come to particularly enjoy and appreciate. All along the way we sought out certain grand trees to examine them up close – the stately oak, the shag bark hickory, the walnut – which are but a few of the dozens of varieties that fill the hillsides. We gathered various size acorns, along with chestnuts, walnuts, and hickory nuts. My daughter gathered a few bird’s nests to add to her collection.

It was the perfect environment for a great discussion on the technology and scale of the Lord’s creation. To see firsthand the various systems of creation at work with each other—all for which man is to steward—is exhilarating. I long for the day, if the Lord is willing, where the Lord’s people, in covenant with each other, can steward these abundant forests and rich farmlands to the praise of His glory. Just walking through them as we did encourages and strengthens me to press into the Lord’s Kingdom. Thank you Lord!! His mercies are renewed daily.

It’s Time to Make the Voyage

Posted by Missouri Rev on Nov 15th, 2005

It was only a few days ago that I was greeted at dawn with a bright sun and delightfully warm and perfectly humid breeze seasoned with the rich smells of the Missouri woods. Early this morning, being the deer hunting season of course, I arose to a swirling dense fog interspersed with rain showers, thunder, a cold biting wind, and eventually snow! . . . not exactly good hunting weather, but a great time to make my Peruvian style cup of coffee and grab a moment to write a few words for my blog. Blogging is like writing home while doing duty in some foreign land; it is something one does in the quiet moments between the many hours of unrelenting hard work. I look forward to the day, Lord willing, when all of us can come home to real, Christian agrarian communities where we converse face-to-face over a delightful, homegrown meal before our hearths or at the local cafe where likeminded and covenanted believers fellowship together in the warm atmosphere of true Christian culture. The MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) of blogging, though a vital sustenance and encouragement to the many scattered troops of God’s kingdom who seek a common culture, do not compare to the daily snacks and satisfying meals of true Christian community.

I am very thankful to the Lord for having moved my family to this rural farming area in the heart of America. Taking the call of a small church with only two members in a worn-out old town of 200 with only a Post Office and neighborhood pop machine would to many appear to be insanity, but it has been a real godsend for us – tribulations, heartaches, and all. Though I have only taken a few infant steps towards a full Christian agrarian life and having by no means arrived, I wouldn’t trade what God has given us for anything. Being largely a city boy, though I have spent many years hunting and fishing, the marvels of rural life have made a deep, permanent impression upon me. Even after five years the wonder of it has not worn off, but only increased, as I only grow more enthralled, rooted, and blessed in this splendid land, even with its thorns, bugs, and sweltering Augusts, not to mention an occasional household guest like I had last spring. One would be amazed at who and what comes for a visit when a basement door is left open for an extended period of time in rural Missouri.

I was sitting at this very computer last spring when I heard a loud noise of something falling to the floor in one of the nearby rooms. Realizing that it was not my wife or daughter and being a former cop with an ingrain sense of investigation, I commenced to find the source of this “suspicious noise.” Having found nothing and turning back down the hall I noticed that caught in the bottom of the crack of an opened door there appeared to be a black electric cord. Around it were scattered nails and screws from a can that had fallen to floor, which was the source of the noise. With my eyes I followed the cord up the crack as it grew in size until I reached eye level where I was met nearly nose-to-nose by a jet black snake of robust stature, who had been patiently staring at me with humor because of my blindness of his presence. Suffice it to say, the instantaneous flow of adrenalin brought about my immediate airborne flight backwards. Having returned to earth and after sufficiently calming myself down, I soon realized that the snake was not poisonous, being a beautiful specimen of the invaluable black rat snake, so I caught him in his hasty retreat — airborne as well I imagine as any normal snake would, having come face-to-face with a bearded, enormous giant — whereupon he immediately coiled himself around my bare arm in peaceful surrender and started flicking his forked tongue at me in SOS signals only snakes can understand. Being a self-induced herpetologist from youth (growing up in the rich deserts of Arizona with its myriad of reptiles seems to contribute to such an odd disposition), I made every attempt to get my family to come close for a good observation and lesson in biology, homeschooling at its best. It was an adamant no go!, like the time I tried to get them to come closer to a small, but angry, rattlesnake I had cornered with my walking stick while hiking in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. With my wife and daughter steadfastly remaining at a healthy distance, I took the blissful creature back outside and released him in a wood pile a good distance from where he gained entrance. All in all, it was a delightful visit, though I think keeping the door closed would be a good idea, especially as it relates to family harmony and the fact that I would like to eat home cooked meals again.

With all of the para-church “ministries” these days like bowlers for Jesus and Cancun vacationers for Christ, maybe room can be made for all of us part-time homespun biologists of the kingdom that love the handiwork of the Lord. It is an unceasing delight for me to behold the creation of God here in rural Ray County — the springtime crops newly sprouted in the rich black fields and the lush flowered pastures, all poised gracefully together like green velveteen fingers interlaced between rolling hills thickly forested with hardwoods. The humid air laden with the splendid smells of bogs and forest floors matted with composting leafs, fallen nuts, and hedge apples. The patchwork of fields carpeted in red clover and graced with fat whitetail deer and nervous turkey. The gloriously loud orchestras of birds, insects, frogs, and feisty squirrels that meet at the height of the summer to sing the praises of their Creator while waves of iridescent light roll across the corn fields at twilight when millions of fire flies gather to dance their annual mating rituals while swarming the nearby trees like swirling strings of twinkling Christmas lights. The magnificent Indian summers and fall harvests rich with apples, pumpkins, hog roasts, bon fires, and fish fries of plump sunfish caught at the local pond. The October forests, like proud peacocks, that briefly display their brilliant plumage of red, orange, and yellow leaves, only to be followed by a more humble period when they look more like tousled, ragged chickens in the middle of a heavy molt. The winter fields that sleep quietly with a blanket of frosted corn stubble while their nearest neighbor, the winter woods, stands rigid like a cold sentinel doing picket duty – all a kaleidoscope of mottled browns and grays shrouded with thick fogs that moan in the sharp cold winds while flocks of crows accompany this lonely music with their occasional raucous calls. The magnificent, diverse cornucopia of God’s creation openly declares His invisible attributes and glorious love, who could miss it?

Mankind in all his economic might, technological savvy, and corporate prowess could never reproduce even one small element of this grand landscape, even with all his powerful “virtual world” capabilities he only mimics His Creator in futile profanity. Ever visit the Kansas City Zoo or the zoo of Kansas City? Man was created to be a faithful steward, not a strip-mining consumer and it is only a matter of time before creation itself rightly vomits him out (Lev. 18:27-28) as an unfaithful husbandman. Besides, who can surpass the marvelous living technology and wisdom found in God’s creation? Why would anyone want to? Why have we become so enamored with the plastic trinkets and pop metal gadgets that rule our virtual world of entertainment and convenience? Why do we eat industrial “food” made with GMO products laced with antibiotics and chemicals? Why do the vast majority of American Christians live in “bedroom communities,” i.e., worker barracks, and commute great distances to jobs and churches while at the same time they adamantly vocalize their concern for the ongoing deterioration of the Christian family and society? Oh the madness of the generational covenantal betrayal that has deceived us all! How is it that Christians everywhere, being deeply dissatisfied with the dead industrial life of a pagan, corporate culture and yearning deeply for real Christian culture, can remain day after day and year after year in the squallored ghettos of pagan dominion, without moving towards God in repentance and reformation, especially when God has promised so much in his Word to those that love Him and keep His commandments? Rather than embark on the voyage that leads across the ocean to the shores of a God-blessed agrarian culture, we stand around on paved parking lots at the dock, pontificating on the virtues of agrarianism while comparing each others equipment, maps, compasses, strategies, and plans we have put together to make the journey, or so we claim. It’s time we all go from theory to practice, it is now time we all cross the Atlantic by faith, while we are still free to make the passage. The Missouri Rev