Book Review

Posted by Missouri Rev on Jun 14th, 2006

Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian

by Herrick Kimball

I particularly enjoyed reading this book like one enjoys a summer evening with a friend on his quiet, country porch. You are there to enjoy the fellowship and deeply take in the delicious country air of the “good life,” not to study the engineering of his porch in relationship to the countryside. In the same way, this refreshing book is not an in depth treatise on the subject of Christian agrarianism, but rather a series of stories and anecdotes about Herrick Kimball’s transition into a biblically agrarian life, including the painful lessons and exhilarating triumphs. One can smell the garden soil he works with his family and taste the strawberries grown from it, while also smelling the coppery scent of blood and the wet feathers of the chickens he raises and slaughters. There is a hearty earthiness to the book that awakens the reader to the realities of being a steward of God’s creation.

By weaving his faith and practice, his fears and joys, into these earthly realities, he gives us a glimpse into the daily life of a family making the difficult and often snail-paced transition into a Christian agrarian lifestyle. One can feel the emotional journey and relate to the trials he and his wife have undergone in finding their agrarian roots while also establishing them in the lives of their sons. The stories of his grandfather and the humble, down-to-earth role he played in shaping his worldview are truly encouraging. Not that the book does not deal with the issues, as there some very succinct chapters devoted to very important issues that face us today like My Debt-Free Home and a Personal Testimony, the Industrial Providers, and the Theology of Food Independence. There is literally a world of difference between pontificating about agrarianism and living it; Herrick has done a good job in giving us a taste of what he has experienced thus far in seeking the “good life” of biblical agrarianism. One can contact Herrick at his website The Deliberate Agrarian.

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!

What are We Biblical Agrarians to Do?

Posted by Missouri Rev on Mar 4th, 2006

I would like to point you to an article, Cornucopia Institute Opposes Virginia Poultry Proposal —Legislation Could Ban Small Scale/Humane Production, cited by the Reformed Farmer in his most recent blog posting. This article deals with a piece of legislation in Virginia – HR 982 – that could ban any and all outdoor (read non-confinement) chicken farming (even by families for family use) under the guise of the current bird flu scare. HR 982 is no idle threat, by any means, as this type of legislation will be making its way across the nation, thanks to the full backing of the confinement poultry industry, one of the many tentacles of corporate agribusiness. It is yet another effort by the corporate state, in exalting itself as god over mankind, to “save us from ourselves,” that is, to have the dominion as the head over mankind and the earth for the supposed “good of all.” Don’t think for a minute that should this legislation pass that it would remain largely unenforceable. Federal funds are already being sought to empower enforcement at the local level to shut down these “potentially dangerous” poultry operations. This type of legislative salvation has happened many times before in our nation.

First you start by generating real fear through the national and local media until the public gets riled enough to demand “legislative” action, like we have witnessed with the war on terrorism and the subsequent reams of legislation passed and implemented which call for a greatly expanded central government – working, of course, in league with certain appointed corporations and various NGOs (non government organizations) – who, together, step in to save us . . . of course at an astronomical cost and greater governmental control of our lives. Once the legislation has been passed on poultry production and the accompanying enforcement regulations written, all that is needed to gain compliance are a few ruthless, well publicized raids, arrests, and convictions coupled with the implementation of a lucrative informant system and the vast majority of “non-regulated” chicken farming will cease out of fear and real financial ruin.

I can see the billboards now. “Stop the spread of disease and protect your family and neighbors from harm. Dial 1-800-CHICKEN if you know of any unauthorized poultry farms or flocks. All calls are strictly confidential and substantial rewards are given.” History has shown, as was the recent case with the former Soviet Union, that when the public gets word that they can receive easy money from the public largess by simply informing on their neighbor, especially in strict confidentiality, they will do it with gusto. I can also hear the “educated” informant’s rationale for doing such duty, “What’s the big deal anyway, are not the readily available, low-priced chickens and eggs produced by the modern farmers of today, especially under the “careful watch” of the USDA, far safer than the birds and eggs raised by unregulated farmers and families? Do not the federal and corporate authorities in power know what’s best for us since they have done so much expensive research?” You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice (Exo. 23:2).

Just remember that our federal central government inextricably intertwined with all state governments, through its powerful alliance with the Federal Reserve and other strategic corporations, has an endless supply of funds (created through uncontrolled borrowing) at its disposal to empower all corporate takeovers as are deemed necessary to maintain its very real dominion. If you do not believe this is so, just talk to the tens of thousands of families driven off their small family farms in the last 50 years by the “progressive polices” of Uncle Sam and one of his many corporate mistresses, the agribusiness industry. The behemoth global corporations Monsanto and ConAgra, to name a few, are great examples of this cooperative takeover by the corporate state. One corporation backing HR 982 is Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., a powerful growers’ and processor’s “association,” (read corporation) which heavily promotes the huge confinement operations that supply nearly all of the chickens and eggs Americans consume today.

Here is a quote from the article by Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, “Nothing would make the huge poultry confinement operators happier than to squelch an increasingly popular competitor that consumers are flocking to . . . Consumers have discovered that the purveyors of organic and direct-market eggs and poultry raised in healthy, outdoor conditions offer a superior-tasting product, and that scares the huge confinement operations.”

Bottom-line: “independent farmers,” who produce a far superior product using a means which does not require them to worship at the altar of mammon by going into perpetual debt through consuming a fortune of expensive agribusiness products and methodologies, are a very real threat to those who do, who have “paid their dues” by yoking to the corporate state. The very real public threat is not the bird flu, should God send it, but the incorporated love of money and power – a real cause for such judgment — that debt–based economic systems operate by in gaining and maintaining control of land and the commerce it produces via the corporation, the artificial child of fallen man.

As man is to God a servant expressly created to take dominion of the earth through obedience to God’s Law in and for His glory (Gen. 1:26-28), so fallen man, in suppressing this truth while mimicking the Lord in exalting himself as god (Rom. 1:18-23), has created the corporation – an artificial person – to be his servant in taking dominion of his fellow man and the earth for himself. Read very carefully the legal definition of the corporation given below. It reveals the heart of fallen man to suppress the truth of God’s calling upon him as His servant and God’s right to determine his future (succession) on earth. The corporation is a mechanism of subversion – a legal end around the sovereignty of God – by which man determines for himself, apart from any liability for personal sin, what his future will be and by what means of succession. Fallen man, in “legally” circumventing the direct accountability he has to his Creator and Sovereign Lord to submit to His government and commandments, has birthed through “special denomination” his own artificial child, the corporation, to employ as his agent, directly answerable to him alone, in insuring that he remains the heir of the earth and its nations.

CORPORATION. An artificial person or legal entity created by or under the authority of the laws of a state or nation, composed, in some rare instances, of a single person and his successors, being the incumbents of a particular office, but ordinarily consisting of an association of numerous individuals, who subsist as a body politic under a special denomination, which is regarded in law as having a personality and existence distinct from that of its several members, and which is, by the same authority, vested with the capacity of continuous succession, irrespective of changes in its membership, either in perpetuity or for a limited term of years, and of acting as a unit or single individual in matters relating to the common purpose of the association, within the scope of the powers and authorities conferred upon such bodies by law. (Black’s Law Dictionary, 4th Edition -West Publishing Company, St. Paul, Minn., 1968, p. 409)

Just as important, however, the corporation has become a very effectual tool in blocking lawful interposition by biblical authorities (family, church, and civil) in intervening against the actions of those who seek to control their lives, liberty, and property for their own ends. They accomplish this solely by greatly empowering their corporate children by means of debt-based, usurious, fiat currency economics — the mother’s milk that grows the healthy bones and muscled sinews that comprise dominating pagan cultures.

Though it may be some time before a total takeover is accomplished, I believe it will happen to poultry farming as it has with nearly every other aspect of our economy and culture. What are we biblical agrarians to do? As I have said before, it is not enough to just buy land and start small family farms and businesses, important as this is. Who will interpose on our behalf when the corporate state comes to take dominion of our land and business through the long arm of legislation and economic reappraisal? We have gone long enough in generational pietist retreatism; the results have been absolutely disastrous.

The current agrarian movement among the Lord’s elect will die in its infancy if they do not see and act upon the fact that it entails the total, simultaneous reformation — spiritual, political, economic, educational, agricultural, etc. — of themselves (first and foremost) and the culture that surrounds them. More so, this type of biblical reformation begins with cultural secession, a term that makes most believers squirm in their shoes, since most “secessions” in human history have been bloody reactions to men and not the proactive actions of believers in separating from the unbeliever — wherein they have been unequally yoked — to turn back to their Lord in covenantal faithfulness (Neh 9:32 – 10:29). Now, before I give the express commandment under the New Covenant for cultural secession, as given by the apostle Paul, let me first give the definition for secession so you can see the clear connection between it and the commandment given by Paul.

Secession, n. [L. seccesio. See Secede.] 1. The act of withdrawing, particularly from fellowship and communion. (The American Dictionary Of The English Language, Noah Webster, 1828)

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 18 “I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:14-18).

This process of biblical secession (separation) is not a form of reactive retreatism achieved through pietistic legalism, as is so common among so many Christian’s today, but proactive dominion achieved through faithful covenant-keeping where the ongoing growth of the new culture displaces the wicked culture surrounding it. The only way this can be achieved, as incredibly daunting as it truly is, is for it to start locally where God’s people living in close proximity covenant with one another to seek first — in their lives, marriages, churches, and communities — the Kingdom and crown rights of the Lord Jesus Christ and that according to His righteous standards as laid out in both testaments of the Scriptures. This is no easy task, as it absolutely requires the taking up of the cross of Christ by every participant in humbling themselves before the Lord in true repentance and reformation. The days of autonomous Christianity in America are coming to end, as evidenced by the righteous judgments of God in putting His people under an ever growing central government until they repent. The days of faithful covenant keeping, Lord willing, are beginning. Even so, come Lord Jesus and have thy way with your flock. — The Missouri Rev

Flower O’ The Heather

Posted by Missouri Rev on Mar 2nd, 2006

Though meteorologists in our neck of the woods consider March 1st the beginning of spring, the real proof came yesterday when I drove past a local slue. There on various logs were dozens of painted turtles sunbathing in the beautiful 75 degree weather. Frog orchestras are soon in coming . . . can’t wait.

I have been enjoying a great though mostly unknown historical novel, Flower O’ The Heather – A Story of the Killing Times, written in 1922 by Robert William MacKenna. It’s the story of the conversion of a young man to the Covenanter’s faith through the trials he endured during the savage persecution of the Covenanters around 1685. Having joined the King’s army (English) after being expelled from college, Walter de Brydde soon deserts it because he cannot stomach the various crimes he is required to participate in to punish those who will not take the “test oath.” Without food or a place to lay his head, he is rescued by an old Presbyterian pastor who, having refused to take the oath, was forced into the Highland moorland to live quite primitively so that he could continue to lead worship on the Lord’s Day during open air meetings in the fields called Conventicles. Eventually they are surrounded by soldiers and the faithful pastor gives his life for him, so that he escapes. Through many more severe trials and wonderful blessings he comes into full faith as one who suffers for Christ and for his fellow Covenanters. The names and historical events woven into the story are historically accurate. The author, in giving it such a robust Scottish flavor, uses the heavy Scottish brogue in many places, which is sometimes hard to follow. Here are a few bonnie quotes that I thought you lassies ane laddies woohhd anjoh.

During the night the Reverend Alexander Main would often play haunting Scottish tunes on his flute. One night there was noticeable silence for which young Brydden inquired of the pastor, “Well,” he said. “it is Saturday, and ye’ll no’ hear me playing the nicht. On such a nicht one is too near the threshold of the Sabbath day lichtly to engage in sic worldly amusement. However, if ye’ll come around to my side of the loch about the usual time, we’ll take a bite o’ supper together—after that ye’d better leave me to my meditations in view of the Lord’s Day, for I am preaching the morn.” “In which church, may I ask?” I said, forgetting for a moment where I was. “In the kirk of the moorland,” he answered, “which has no roof but God’s Heaven, and no altar but the loving hearts of men and women!”

The glorious death of Rev. Main: “I heard the jangle of bridle chains, and the creak of stirrup leathers: I could hear the heavy breathing of the horses—they were closing in upon me from every side. One minute more and I should be discovered, and then, death! And I, because I had learned to love, had grown afraid to die. Suddenly, clear and shrill, the sound of a flute came from the far side of the loch. What madness was this? Did not the old man know that the troopers were upon us? In the very teeth of danger he was calmly playing a tune that I had heard more than once in the moonlit hours of the night. O fool! What frenzy had seized him? . . . And then the truth flashed upon me. It was not madness: it was sacrifice! He had seen my danger, and to save me, with no thought of self, he had done this thing. . . . Would he take the oath? I knew that to him allegiance to his God was more precious than fealty to an earthly king. I could see the whole scene: he, calm, in the circle of his accusers, with the firing party charging their weapons. I could hear the bullying voice of the commander trying to break his spirit, and then I knew—for I had seen it—that he would be given five minutes to make his peace with God. Little need for that! . . . The crash of muskets tore the silence and I knew that Alexander Main, hillman, and Saint, had won his crown of glory at the last.

Young Brydden, upon waking from a coma after several days, the result of fall that broke his leg while fleeing his pursuers, discovers the care that was given him by the mother and daughter of a humble covenanting family, the Patersons. “Can ye feed yersel’, or maun I feed ye like a bairn [child] ?” She gave me a horn spoon, and with a shaky hand I fed myself. She sat watching me, but did not speak again till I had finished my meal. “That’s better,” she said. “You’ll soon be yersel’ again. It’s the prood woman I am. I never yet knew a man sae ill as you ha’e been pu’ through. Man, but for the grace o’ God and our Mary [the lady’s daughter that discovered him injured and risked her neck to rescue him], the craws on the moor ha’e picked yer banes white long ere noo.”

Mrs. Patterson discusses the finer points of milking the coo. I listened eagerly. She [Mary] was singing a love song! The old woman heard her too, for she said: Dae ye ken ocht aboot kye?” I hastened to tell her that I knew nothing. “Weel,” she said, “It’s a queer thing, but ye can aye get mair milk frae a coo if ye sing at the milkin’. If ye sing a nice bricht tune you’ll get twa or three mair gills than if ye dinna sing ava. Noo, that’s Meg she’s milkin’, and Meg has got near as muckle sense as a human being. On Sabbath, ye ken, it would be a terrible sin to sing a sang to the coo when ye’re milkin her, so I’ve got to fa’ back on the psalms. But ye’ve got to be carefu’. For instance, if ye sang the ‘Auld Hundred’ to Meg, ye wadna’ get near sae muckle [so much] milk, because it’s solemn-like, than wad if ye sang her a psalm that runs to tune o’ ‘French’. Forby, I aince had a servant-lass that sang a paraphrase when she was milkin’ Meg, and the puir cratur’ was that upset that shw was milked dry before the luggy was a quarter filled, and when I went masel’ [myself] to strip her, she put her fit in the pail—a thing I’ve never kent her dae afore or since.”

Mrs. Patterson explains herself when she chases the chickens away while referring to them as covenanters. “Shoo! Ye wee Covenanters!” she cried. I laughed, as I said, “Why do you call them Covenanters?” “Weel,” she replied, “I often think that chickens and the hill-men ha’e muckle in common. Ye see maist Covenanters tak’ life awfu’ seriously. They ha’e few pleasures frae the minute they come into the world. A kitten will lie in the sun playin’ wi’ a bit o’ oo’, and a wee bit puppy will chase its tail for half an hour on end; but wha ever saw a chicken playin’? They denna ken the way. It’s scrape, scrape, pick, pick, frae the day they crack the shell till the day their necks are wrung. And your Covenanters are muckle the same.”

I ope’ ye foond these quotes anjoybl’. — The Missouri Rev.

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.

Generational Sowing and Reaping — An Agrarian Understanding of History

Posted by Missouri Rev on Jan 29th, 2006

Finally, I am able to post to my blog! It’s likely that it has been so long since I last posted that you have long given up on me, which I wouldn’t blame you for anyhow, but I think what I am posting today was worth waiting for. If you would prefer, I could post a little something every week, but it may only be to stay in touch and perhaps post smaller articles or even updates as to what we are doing here. Please let me know. As I said before, for me blogging is like sending letters home from the war front, so I suppose that it would be in order to at least report in enough to keep you from wondering whether I am MIA or AWOL.

Being a pastor that struggles like the rest who are making the very difficult transition into biblical community and covenantal agrarianism, I find it most difficult to spend the time writing and posting something that I consider worthwhile, which is not say that those of you that post frequently do not post worthwhile things. Indeed you do and I enjoy them immensely, but it’s hard for me to keep up with writing, even as much as I love it, when I have so many hats that I wear.

Once again this latest posting, Generational Sowing and Reaping – An Agrarian Understanding of History, is far too long to post in the main body of the blog, so I have posted it on the web where you can read it and/or print it (the links are directly below). Though I start with a “Paul Harvey” type story from Missouri history to get you interested in the post, the heart of it is learning how to understand history rightly (biblically) so we can draw the right conclusions, learn its true lessons, and make the right application. Contrary to a lot of pragmatic baloney about history being largely worthless to the present generation, it has everything to do with where we are now and where we going into the future. Quoting from the article, Human history is, thus, an agrarian story of generational sowing and reaping, both for good and evil, where the obedient or disobedient acts of man, individually or corporately, act as planted seeds which produce a harvest of consequences which the generations that follow must live or die with.” I have used some of Missouri’s and our country’s history to make this very critical point, which I hope you find interesting and useful. Since it largely deals with the War of Northern Aggression, you “Southrons” and other freedom loving patriots might find this article interesting as well.

This URL: Generational Sowing and Reaping — leads you to a website where you can read and print the article, which includes many pictures. It’s in PDF format. If you do not have the software to open it, you can download it for free at this site: Adobe Reader Download: all versions

Now, for those of you that do not know what biblical agrarianism is—don’t run away—as it is not as bad, bizarre, or boring as it sounds. We are talking about building, through God’s grace and providential care, a godly culture by means of biblical, generational reformation and restoration—where family and land are not strangers to each other, where we enjoy the work of our hands as being truly productive by God’s grace, where we build a tangible, God-blessed culture in which our children can build their futures from, where our neighbors and community are like-minded, god-fearing Christians, where the lost can see firsthand by God’s blessing upon us the Gospel of the Kingdom we profess . . . in short, it is living on God’s green earth as unto Him and as He intended. Do I believe God has intended for His people to live on the earth a certain way . . . absolutely and it is good, contrary to the “Christian” defeatist pragmatism of today, though, as history has clearly shown, we most likely will suffer the wrecking ball of God’s justice and mercy in the process, as there has been much built in the last several generations that is ungodly and counterproductive.

God bless and please comment on the article, thank you.

The Missouri Rev

A Delightful Book

Posted by Missouri Rev on Jan 10th, 2006

Herrick Kimball in one of his recent blog postings mentions a delightful book, Diary of an Early American – Noah Blake 1805, by noted author/illustrator Eric Sloan. I was able to pick up a used hardback 1st edition (1962) for a couple of bucks on the Internet and have come to be very pleased with this great book investment, as quaint as it is. The book is based upon an old, leather-bound diary that the author found in a barn, which had the following inscription on the flyleaf:

NOAH BLAKE, my book
March the twenty-fifth,
Year of our Lord 1805
Given to me by my Father Isaac Blake
And my Mother Rachel
upon the fifteenth year of my life.

The actual diary is fairly terse, though incredibly enlightening, especially with the research and illustrations the author adds to it to bring it to life. From the inside cover we read this: The result is an intriguing combination of elements—quotations from Noah Blake’s diary, Eric Sloan’s descriptions of nail-making, bridge-building, shingle-splitting, and everyday occupations of a century and a half ago, nearly a hundred illustrations—which bring the year 1805, and Noah Blake, to life again for us. This description is quite accurate, but it doesn’t tell the whole story – the incredible knowledge our ancestors had of one of the Lord’s most blessed, living technologies — wood, that’s right, wood!

I have often made the ignorant assumption that our modern industrial technologies in wood-making were a vast improvement upon the “antiquated” ones from centuries ago. Though in some areas this may be true in improved tools and related manufacturing products (glues, etc.), though some of these have created new problems, there are several areas where the corporate, debt-based industrialism (that rules supreme over our pagan culture and economy) has created technologies that serve the short-term, monopolistic aspirations of the international corporate and banking empires rather than the long-term, generational needs of individuals and families. Witness the plethora of garbage plywoods and simulated wood products, the inferior doglegged 2×4’s and other structural products, the glued sawdust furniture stapled together with cheap plastic hardware, the expensive though quickly grown and poorly seasoned furniture and cabinet making woods, the crudely made Taiwanese screws, the list goes on.

What I didn’t realize, however, was that there were very good reasons why our agrarian founders used wood only in making certain products and structures, rather than combining it with metal (screws, etc.). They understood the technology of wood, its various task specific qualities and useful combinations, which they found could make a more durable, longer lasting product. Homes and bridges made of logs and carefully constructed stones were made to last for generations, imagine that! I am very impressed with this simple book. It has stirred in me all the more the Lord given desire to not only farm, but to steward a hardwood forest in a biblically sustainable manner while using it to properly supply wood products for various needs. I not only recommend this book for the homeschooling library, but also for us adults that need a brief journey back to a more godly culture and time. If you have other books along these lines that you can recommend, please present them in any comments you may have.

Technology – by Whom and by What Standard?

Posted by Missouri Rev on Dec 20th, 2005

Greetings one and all! Like most bloggers I know, I have been so busy of late that blogging has had to be put on the backburner, so I apologize for not posting any sooner. It is my belief that at least for the next few generations the more we enter into living out biblical agrarianism the less time we will likely have to write about it. But write we must, as we can use all of the encouragement and biblical experiential light (Rom. 5:3-5) we can get in beginning the pioneering process of rebuilding our once Christian republic, a daunting task that will span many generations, if history proves to be a good measure. I say this because I believe, given the dreadful though biblically justified state of captivity the Church finds itself in today (read Neh. 9 carefully), that we all face a long road of humbling by the hand of God as He works in His people true, lasting repentance in turning from their own ways back to Him in rebuilding the foundations of Christian culture. This long, toilsome road will require extraordinary perseverance and steadfast covenantal faithfulness that will tax our souls, bodies, and relationships as never imagined, especially in this age of technological ease and comfort that, if we are willing to admit it, has significantly softened us as soldiers of Christ. More so, “American Christendom” has come to distain personal sacrifice and pain as religious foolishness and wholly unnecessary in this age of “common grace and prosperity.”

Please do not misunderstand me. As much as anyone else, I greatly appreciate the daily comforts that come from modern technology, but they are not entirely necessary or useful for the maturing of our Christian faith and the advancement of God’s Kingdom. The success of the early Christian colonies on our eastern seaboard are ample proof of this fact. In the case of our self-serving, licentious culture, much of technology has become an empowering agent for autonomy and, as such, has become an idol. All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. I believe there is ample evidence that it has also become an idol to many Christians who have put their trust in it as the primary means for their daily provision and source for generational success and continuity. Just try banning usurious economics, the most powerful form of financial technology known to fallen man, and mammon worshippers both from within and without the Church will be after you in a heartbeat, claiming that they will be doing God a service in stopping such “cultural genocide.”

I greatly appreciate Scott Terry’s recent post, Agrarians and Technology. He addresses the issue of progress and technology from a biblical agrarian viewpoint, one that needs to be carefully addressed and rightly acted upon. In my opinion, the whole issue comes down to one question. By whom and by what standard do we define progress and create and implement technology? Is it reduced to that which merely helps man? What is helping man? Is it limited to whatever he determines by and for himself? Does the pot know what’s best for itself . . . or does not the Potter know what’s best for the pot? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” Since man was implicitly created to serve the Lord on the earth as His earthly steward (husbandman), all progress as it concerns man’s care and use of the earth and his relationship to his Maker and fellow beings is defined and governed by the Lord, without exception. Therefore, to step outside the boundaries of God, as clearly established in His word, in living out our lives daily and planning for the future (progress) is to declare independence from Him, which is autonomous rebellion no matter “how progressive” it appears. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Man shall not live by progress or technology alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Technology is not some neutral thing that falls outside the jurisdiction of God’s law, thus it can never be something that automatically benefits mankind “in the name of progress.” Though technology in and of itself cannot do good or evil, since it is not a conscience soul accountable to God, it can, however, be the extending arm for good or for evil, as done by man. For example, the actual paper and chemicals that make up a photograph are not evil in and of themselves (though how they are manufactured could be in potentially destroying the biblical sustainability of the earth – another related subject). It is why they come together as a photograph that makes all of the difference. A photo of a godly wedding taken to testify of God’s greatness and blessing in putting families together is biblically lawful. A photo of a “gay wedding” taken to promote sodomy is profanity, plain and simple, as it clearly violates the restraining Laws of God as it regards the conduct and relationships of fallen man. Because of the total depravity of man and his inherent rebellion against God, everything he does is to be governed and constrained by the righteous cords and bonds of God’s Law. Though this is clearly for the good of all, a demonstration of God’s love, fallen man bristles at the notion that all he does, without exception, is subject to his Maker. What kind of God is this that would not let His human creation define for itself who they are and what is right and wrong?

Not only does God’s Law restrict what images man may make, contrary to man’s claims that he has “rights to freedom of speech,” but it also restricts how man procures and uses earth’s resources in making and implementing the technology that makes the images. Man is not a free agent to strip-mine the earth as he pleases. He is not free to strip-farm the land to get the most profits out it, only to discard it later because it is no longer farmable. Nor is he free to abuse or alter the creation, no matter how progressive it appears or what immediate benefit he claims it gives. The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Mankind is to procure and use the resources of the earth that God gives him in a biblical manner that honors the Lord and sustains the earth for future generations, and this according to God’s definition of sustainability and progress, such as we find in Psalms 37 and 103:17-19. Likewise, all technology created to achieve these purposes are governed by the same definitions and laws. History has irrefutably proven that when mankind attempts to throw off the righteous cords and bonds of God’s Law that govern this stewardship, God righteously judges them in His perfect displeasure . . . often by letting them reap over time the consequences of the evil intentions and inventions of their hearts. This also applies to technology, since it has a large impact on the sustainability of the land for future generations, though not nearly as large as man’s rebellion to God’s moral Laws, which defiles the land (Lev. 18:24-27). There is only one form of agrarianism pleasing to God and that is His form as established by His Law. All other forms of agrarianism are not pleasing, including our own usurious, corporate based industrialism, though many swear by it because of the immediate benefit it seems to produce. Those benefits are rapidly dwindling as the realities of generational covenant breaking come crashing down around our heads. There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death (Pro. 14:12).

The answer lies with covenantal faithfulness to the Lord, as clearly laid out in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, where God defines biblical agrarianism in terms of obedience to His Laws and the generational blessings He bestows both upon His people and the land they dwell in. Even so, there are many misconceptions by Christians about biblical agrarianism, which run to extremes at both ends. It does not mean living without technology as “backward primitives” in a regressive society that falls ever behind the progress of modern man, as some claim. Neither does it mean using each and every technology that comes along as if it were automatically the will of God. Bigger and more intelligent is not necessarily better. I’d much rather live in a world where individual men must face each other eye-to-eye and hand-to-hand in combat, as bloody and frightening as this is, then to live in the present one we have created where highly sophisticated, highly accurate, nuclear weapons can be launched by an unseen enemy thousands of miles away, which can annihilate millions in seconds with little warning. That’s not progress, that’s arrogant insanity!

Biblical agrarianism simply means stewarding God’s earth (and all of it is His) according to His (Law) Word, which is the sole, transcendent, and final standard for the whole of man for the whole of life. This applies to not only everything man does individually, but to every aspect of culture for which he is an accountable member before God, no matter what status or occupation he finds himself in.

Everyone is an agrarian because everyone lives on God’s land, breathes His air, and uses His resources to sustain their lives. This makes the stock market guru on the 101st floor of a New York skyscraper just as accountable to God as an agrarian as the Iowa farmer working his fields, for he is directly accountable to Him:

  • for how he lives – by whom and by what standard,
  • for how he procures and uses the earth’s resources – by whom and by what standard,
  • for the moral, economic, and civil structures he supports and uses, which act as an extension in obtaining the things necessary to his daily existence – by whom and by what standard,
  • for every technology created – by whom and by what standard,
  • and for the laws and mechanisms of deployment by which he plans his future – by whom and by what standard.

More so, every culture, every form of technology used to build it, and every definition of human progress that defines it exhibits an agrarian model, whether of God and by His standards or of man by his standards.

God gifts His creature man with intellectual and creative capabilities, talents, and, most importantly, a conscience governed by His law to guide his thoughts and actions in serving Him. Even in his fallen, depraved state he willfully suppresses the truth of God his Maker (Rom. 1:18-32), for which he is fully accountable, no matter how much he may claim innocence or ignorance. As God’s creature made in His image and called to govern His creation on earth, man was called to create and use technology to fulfill his call as a husbandman of the land. Technology is not, therefore, a problem, it is by whom and by what standard it is made and implemented that the problem lies. This applies to all technologies – financial, governmental, agricultural, manufacturing, etc. – literally everything that man sets his mind and hand to do in governing the earth under its King, Jesus Christ. Knowing and believing this is half the battle, because our Lord has given us His written word and His indwelling Spirit, working by way of the regeneration, to achieve His purposes on earth, which includes blessing you and your children to His praise and glory. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them. The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.

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

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