Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chick update

This is gonna be short, as things are doing very well. After 24 hours of loss and helping the less thrifty chicks, we seem to have a handle on the situation. We have 3 SLW, 5 RIR, 5 Ameracaunas, and 5 Ideal 236 that made it well. This leaves us with 15 layers and 3 pets. We will be ordering more in April or May for pets when the weather is nicer, but if we want eggs this year out of our chicks, we had to get them going now. Next round I have to plan better and set my own eggs. That is part of the reason for the banties in the first place, to set eggs. The kids would love to hatch some eggs and the bantams are more broody than regular hens, so hopefully we will be able to hatch our own replacements with our current rooster, or maybe in a future batch we will get a RIR or some other such rooster that would produce decent layers.
As far as meat birds, we will stick with buying day old chicks, as we can get as many as we like and get them all done at once. It is hard to produce a high yield meat variety on the small homestead. Even the slow broilers such as Freedom Rangers are bred for years in specific lines to get the weight gain in short periods of time. It is also in my best interest to have all the birds at once if I plan on using a butcher rather than doing my own slaughter(which we plan to continue). Since everyone is doing fine, we are able to leave the house for longer periods now, and we can use the 100 watt bulb rather than the heat lamp. Everyone (in the brooder, that is) is thriving and energetic.


Monday, February 25, 2008

Psalm 51- a prayer of repentance

I was talking with a friend recently and remembered something that came to me months ago. Psalm 51 is generally considered to be a Psalm that David wrote shortly after the death of Bathsheba's husband. David was spoken of as a man after God's own heart. Yet, David still sinned, including the arranged murder of the husband of a woman he wished to acquire for himself. We can say that we would never stoop to killing someone, or that David was the worst kind of sinner, but in God's eyes, anything less than perfection is worthy of death forever.
So, if death is the wages of our sin, then why does God show mercy on us, and what did the penalty of death that Jesus Christ suffered tell us about the amazing love of God for us? David spoke truly from his heart when he poured his soul out and repented of his sin before a holy God. David's true spirit in this passage can be found without much investigation. I have prayed this passage as a prayer of repentance before. It is not only the sin of murder that brings a man to his knees, but every thing we do to grieve the God that sent His Son to die in our place should be met with the graveness that David shows in his soul here.
We all need to be reminded often that there is nothing we can do to deserve the riches of heaven and forgiveness of our sins. This is why I love the remembrance service (also known as communion or the Lord's table). We meet around the table weekly and, as the Holy Spirit moves, we share what the Lord lays on our hearts. The whole service is focused around the bread and wine. It is a somber time of reflection of what God sacrificed for us, for ME. I am never so humbled as when I take the time to reflect on what this time really means.
David acknowledges the depths of his sin, knowing that he was a sinful creature from the time of conception, as all sons of Adam share in the sinful nature. He then asks the Lord to cleanse him, to purge him, and wash him clean. His desire here is to be made clean, not to get forgiveness so he can feel better, but honest desire to be an entirely new and clean creation before God.
Verse 10 brings us from the repentance to what he knows God truly wants from him. "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation and uphold me with your free spirit."
I see from this portion of the tearful prayer of David that he wishes to be restored and made clean. He knows that he deserves to be cast away, but he also knows the heart of God that wants nothing more than to see His servant restored. I also note that he asks God to restore the joy of "thy salvation" not his own salvation. David knows that he could not have gained his own salvation nor could he ever deserve it, but it came freely from God who rightly could have killed him where he stood, but instead reached out in mercy and love and restored His servant.
Many times we miss the buildup of circumstances to verse 13" Then will I teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall be converted unto you" I would conclude that the brokenness of David spilling himself out, poured out unto God, begging for mercy, leads the way to sinners to come to repentance.
In many recent conversations with a friend, I see this coming over and over to me, that we must repent of our sins, and not just the lying, stealing, or covetous thoughts. We all know what sins are so easily brought to mind when we pray, but how many times do we completely disregard the commands of God and then not consider this disregard for our commission a blatant sin. We stand in the face of God making excuses for being ashamed of the gospel, for not being the husbands and wives, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters that we should be. We do not only sin when we break the 10 commandments, but any time we know to do good and then don't follow through with action. All the nice words in the world will not make up for the action of God's people in following with what God tells us to do.
So, it all comes back to the basics. Repentance must happen before God can use us. If we don't get ourselves right with God, and then ask for His leading and follow the scriptural commands, we don't have to wonder at all why God isn't seen as moving, or if we are not clear of God's leading. It sometimes takes time for God to show us what to do, but if we are negligent in the basic things we already know to do, why would the Lord trust us with larger things? I know for me, I had to repent of an attitude of pride towards others, and wrong thoughts towards fellow believers. I also had to ask God to forgive me for not truly seeking His face, along with needing the forgiveness for other areas of disobedience in my life. I have not yet arrived, but thanks to the lesson of this psalm, I know where to start. I also have learned that if I am not right with God, He will not use me, and I miss the blessing of what the Lord has for me. He may use someone else, and that is something I will have to live with. When I think about that, I am renewed in my quest to follow wholeheartedly after God, thanking Him often for the debt that was paid on my behalf, a debt that I could never pay.


Saturday, February 23, 2008

Quick update

The little chicks are doing well for the most part, but we lost Nathaniel's one remaining chick. He wants to order more, but we will wait for warmer weather as his are pets and it is nice having chicks around often. We wanted to get the layers now so we get eggs this year. If we had waited, we would have gotten into winter before laying began, and that messes them up a bit.
We have the one weak wyandotte that isn't doing bad, but isn't thriving either. The rest are scurrying around running laps around the box. I may have to open the other compartment to give them more room, just for exercise.
Just thought I would update a bit quickly. Our home Bible study will start on Monday March 10. This will be an introduction to God and the Bible. We are using the book, "What does the Bible teach?" and inviting our neighbors from up to a mile in all directions. We will be meeting in the new "Bible study room" which could turn into a home church down the road. That is a long ways out, and we will see how God blesses this study. I pray that some will come hungry for the truth of God's Word and get saved. Evangelism is the primary goal of this study, and then discipleship to follow. Pray that this goes well and is well attended. We will hold a corresponding Good News Club for the children of folks that come out. It seemed like a great opportunity to reach adults and children at the same time.
Have a great Lord's day!


Friday, February 22, 2008

Warning- cuteness ahead. Enter at your own peril

OK, I promised pics of the chicks. With some tender care, I seem to have brought the weak ones back for the time being. Sometimes they get better only to get worse again. Really, the first 24 hours after arrival is up in the air with little birds. We got them water and feed, warmed them up, and will now just wait it out and see what we can do for them.
So, without further adieu, here are the pictures. Hope this brightens your day. I know it did for my family.

Chicks arrived this morning, hard trip from Texas

Well, as I mentioned before, we have new chicks that came this morning. We ordered quite an assortment, and most of them arrived safely. When ordering this time of year, I kept in mind that I may lose some in shipment. While it is sad to see some arrive dead from shipping stress, I don't have any sentimental attachment to the little fur balls. Virginia and Nathaniel take it harder than me, especially since all the losses on this run were theirs.
Nathaniel ordered the Dutch Mille Fleur bantams, five were shipped and 1 arrived live, and he is not doing well. Virginia ordered Silver Laced Wyandotte bantams, and she lost one. They are shipped as straight run (not sorted by sex) so we may have all roosters, all hens, or any mix of the two.
My layers all arrived great, chirping away and running around the brooder eating, drinking, and being merry. I would rather that I lost some, as the ones for the kids were to be pets. Of those that arrived live, Nathaniel's last is weak and tippy and so is one of Virginia's. I hope they make it through, but it doesn't look good.
Now before the PETA people come after me with sticks and knives(for people fighting for the right to live, they sure don't mind threatening people, lol) saying that we should never order chicks this time of year, I have to put in my 2 cents worth on the subject of shipping this time of year. I live in Maine, and we have cold weather for chicks pretty much year round. A chick is supposed to have 95 degree weather the first week, and lessening the temp 5 degrees a week the first 5 weeks or so. Maine does not get 95 degree weather, EVER.
I will be updating throughout the weekend with pictures of our little fuzz bundles. Stay tuned.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Chicks are due to arrive in the morning

I am so excited, as are the children, to get new chicks tomorrow. I have the brooder set up in the house and the outside brooder ready for later. We have feed, waterers, feeders, and clean shavings. I have heard the arguments for and against pine shavings for a brooder, but from my experience, shavings keep drier, cleaner, and offer traction for little feet.
I had a friend over earlier with his wife and 6 kids. They are planning on adding to their garden next year, and have recently gotten a horse. Their eldest daughter works with 4H and acquired a horse from someone they knew. This year the plan is to add some laying hens and broilers to the mix. Lenny (the dad) plans on butchering the chickens at home, as needed, as opposed to using a slaughter house. I have seen the pros and cons and believe that for personal consumption, it is a toss up. For smaller batches, I prefer butchering, but anything over 30 birds at a time, it takes a whole day of wrangling, killing, cleaning, and packing. I can get 30 birds butchered, completely hands off for me, and packaged for $90.
The big difference is that we have not slaughtered less than 80 birds at a time with broilers, so I have no qualms with hauling them to the slaughter facility. The cost is about a day's pay and I don't have to get dirty or bag chickens. We do have to use 4 hours out of our day, but most is in the truck or talking, not exactly hard work. It is also a good time to meet other chicken folk and learn what others in the area are using for feed. Prices and quality are different at different feed stores. I have been using an organic grain mix that I mix with fish meal and Fertrell's. We also use whey when we have it on hand. It is a great protein source and often free from a friend that makes cheeses.
I ought to get some sleep, as we have chicks coming, an overtired baby girl(and her daddy), men's Bible study, and a birthday party tomorrow. This all has to be done after I finish making the new shelving and storage in the house. I will write later about the remodeling we have been doing lately. That is a long story and deserves its own blog. Have a great evening.

Welcome, fellow HTers

As some of you may know, there are problems with the new service over at Homesteading Today. I am a big fan of HT, and have learned a lot from fellow homesteaders over the years. For those of you who are visiting my blog for the first time, welcome. I hope the servers at HT are up again soon, but it is great to be able to share with everyone here.
I do post a lot about homesteading, chickens, gardens, etc. but spend much of my time in the Bible, posting whatever God shows me for that day. I hope you visit some of the links in the sidebar, and read some of my older posts. I have not been blogging long, but there are pages of information here, so I hope you enjoy.
So, thanks to Homesteading Today for posting a link to my blog for reading while the HT is not available.
OK, I want to add that my wife Sara has a blog that has homemaking tips, recipes, and info about family life. She only blogs a couple times a week, but the info is good and I think a lot of HTers would like it. the address is homemakersintraining.blogspot.com

Monday, February 18, 2008

OK, OK, back to Friday

Friday morning, as frequent readers will recall, our family hopped in the truck to visit some friends in the central Maine area. It was a long trip, about 2 hours and we had gotten directions from Google Maps, which are usually pretty accurate. It turns out that these directions were accurate, but missing a detail or two which led us to take the wrong left turn onto ME Route 23. Funny enough, there are 2 left turns onto ME 23 in the same town within half a mile of each other. Evidently, the road comes winding in to town and then back out again. So, we turned left on the first one instead of the second and headed the wrong way. having never been to visit these folks before, we didn't even know we were on the wrong road.
A few miles up 23, we started looking for the road to turn onto next and crested a hill to find a sheet of ice on the other side. We were traveling about 35 mph(I think) and as soon as we hit the ice, the truck slid off the road. Since there is a lot of snow in that area, we ran head first into a 5 foot or more tall snowbank. This was a blessing, since in the oncoming lane there was an oil truck that could not have stopped or gotten out of our way. When the front end of the truck hit the snow bank, we had enough momentum to sling us around, nose in the ditch, and the rear of the truck bouncing across the ice, depositing us about 8 feet into the snow, turned the wrong way, with snow plowed into every crevice under the truck including the engine compartment. This thing was stuck.
As soon as we stopped, we realized everyone, including the smiling baby in the back seat was fine. We are a little sore, but completely fine otherwise. The running board on the driver's side got folded under and the tailgate will not open, but we were safe and the truck is drivable. I had a tote of sand in the back which slammed against the gate and caused it to somehow not operate anymore. I used the shovel in the back to start digging us out. About half way through the shoveling, the fiberglass handle snapped. I guess I don't know my own strength (or adrenaline frustration) so I continue on with half a shovel.
About this time, a van came past and stopped, hoping to push us out by hand. HA! Even with the wheels cleared and most of the truck freed, even in 4 wheel drive, we were still compressing a lot of snow that was lodging us off the ground. The fellows headed out, not being able to do much more and another truck came along that had a chain. His F250 4wd was able to do the job in no time at all.
Now we were back on the road and there seemed to be no damage to the truck, as far as safety of driving. Our friends met us on the road, (we called when we got stuck to let them know we would be late) and they had brought the cavalry with shovels in case we didn't get done before they get there. We followed them for a while, heading towards their home. When we got on the really bad roads near their house (picture the roads from Little House on the Prairie, but with snow and icy ruts) Ethan hopped into our truck and drove the rest of the way for us. With me not driving due to seizures, Sara being shook up from the accident, it was a welcome help from a true friend.
Arriving at the Hall home (a silo they trucked from Florida to Maine) we were welcomed and cared for in a way that I do not recall seeing before. This family is a group of Christians of the rarest variety. Servants and Godly folks, all. Everyone was preparing lunch, and we enjoyed the meal greatly. Living in a 4 story silo that is over 30 feet across the center, this home would never be referred to as anything but extraordinary. And while the home is unique, what we experienced there is so much more interesting.
We spent the day meeting the goats (one which pulls children in sleds, a treat for Virginia) and chickens, our older kids and I went sledding with some of the family. To give you an idea of the conditions of the road, I have to add that this is a private road, and everyone does their part in keeping it clear. The folks who live on the road purchased an old town plow truck, well past the age of retirement for most trucks. This plow was chugging up the road at about 15 feet per hour, it seemed. We went sledding on the road for 2 hours and never saw a car. We did see 4 snowmobiles and a 3 wheeler, but no cars. It was great, and everyone had a good time.
After our sledding adventure, we went inside and prepared for supper, another wonderful meal with soup and bread, popcorn, and more. We enjoyed the fellowship of this family so much. We also learned a lot about how we live. Anyone that knows us knows that we are not your average family, but we are also not the only ones who live as we do.
We are Christians that most consider conservative. We educate our children at home using mostly the Bible, along with lessons that we make up ourselves using the internet, various library books, and some other helps. Our family spends time together daily in God's Word, singing, memorizing scripture. Sara does not, nor will work outside the home. Our children are with us 24 hours a day (except sleeping) and we don't use babysitters or daycare. We are homesteaders, carefully planning our food out a year or more in advance. Plans for gardens and livestock are carefully planned in winter and executed in summer. We try to live simply and save money. We don't care much for shopping or the things the world has to offer. We don't watch much TV or go to the movies. The girls wear dresses or skirts, and we are very modest dressers. The ladies also cover their heads when worshiping and praying. We plan church activities first, and other activities later. We make God THE priority, not a priority.
Knowing that we try our best to live this way, and succeed mostly(not perfect by any means), we were interested in knowing how our family may look in a few years. Since this family has 7 kids, and the youngest is now 16, with 4 married, it encouraged us that folks that live like we do have raised a very loving family, united together, and living harmoniously(those left at home, plus a grandmother).
The love and respect the children (adult children included) show to their mom, dad, and grandmother is a testament that our goals are indeed possible. While washing dishes, the girls casually sing a hymn in 3 part harmony, voicing their praises to God, knowing He is worthy to be praised. After supper, everyone including us, the family, and their extended family (15 or so) sat around and opened our Bibles together. As the patriarch of the family led us in reading, we discussed what the passage meant and shared from our own lives. It was a wonderful time.
The servants heart of this family came through even more, when Sara and I sat down to listen to God's Word and two of the ladies got on the floor and started washing our feet. This act of service to us reminded me of Jesus washing the disciples feet, and of Mary washing Jesus feet with her tears. As a society, we miss a lot that we could learn from God in His Word. The principle that we should be servants to one another rather than simply looking out for our own interests is a foreign thought in today's world, it seems. But it is not so in this home, where the words of the Lord are given top priority. The family seems to have found that there is joy unspeakable in following Jesus and his example. It was a testimony to me, let me tell you now!
When it was time to leave(hours after we planned) we found ourselves desperate for more of this example. We do not wish to be served, or treated like kings and queens (although it felt that way), but rather to continue to be encouraged that God has set in place guidelines for our lives, and when we follow them through (again, no one being perfect, but trying our best) He will bless us and use us to encourage others to follow Him also.
I hope this doesn't seem to be glorifying any person, because I know these folks would not want that. I only share it because we as a family have been seeking ways to show God's love to others, and after our seeking, He has shown us a few examples to follow, and prodded us to stop thinking and start doing.
I hope some of you have been encouraged by this. I know I was. I hope everyone sees the importance of putting the Lord first, and letting Him decide what is right for us. We need to get out of the driver's seat and just let Him lead. You never know where He might put you, but you can be sure that He will bless you if you follow him.


I said our schedule was clear, but not for long....

Friday morning, we left on our trip to visit a family from the chapel we attend. The Halls live in a fairly remote spot in a unique home. After getting to know this wonderful family through church,we were invited to their home to spend the day. This was to be the beginning of a very interesting day, to be sure.
Sara had woken up early that morning from a frightful dream. In her dream, she was forced to proclaim her love for Jesus and her dedication to Him while being threatened with death if she was truly a follower of Christ. In the dream, she was willing to take a stand and be persecuted, and even killed, for the sake of the Lord Jesus. She awakened with this thought fresh in her mind and was troubled by it. She didn't mention the dream until something scared her later that day.
I wish to preface the rest of the events of the day with a background of what God has been revealing to us lately. We have always had a passion for lost souls and for evangelism. We started and run an evangelistic meeting for children after school hours, meeting at a local school. We pass out tracts and talk to people about God and their need for salvation. We wish to see everyone come to know God through salvation, but often feel that we are not doing enough. We have not known God's leading specifically, and for my part, I am guilty of not seeking His will with enough fervor.
I have recently read a book called "the heavenly man" which is the story about a Chinese man who endured prison, beatings, electrocution, and many tortures that would make you weep to just read about them. Even through great times of struggle, this man proclaimed Jesus to his captors, fellow prisoners, and everyone he met, whether they wanted to hear it or not. He never gave up on this quest that God led him to. He never feared what men could do to him, but rather obeyed God at all costs. I have been challenged by this book and you have not seen the beginning of what God will do with His people that will be wholly committed to Him.
I am sick of myself. God has broken my will and I have had to pour out myself in brokenness before Him. I have not just been lazy in my witness, as I liked to think. It is through the counsel of a dear friend, and from holding each other accountable that we have been able to admit to each other that we needed to repent. I had always considered myself just scared to witness to some people, and thought it was "something I need to work on"
Refusing to obey God's command to preach the gospel, to share our faith openly and regularly, amounts to a disregard for God's will. I have been standing in the way of what God has for me, and I had to repent of the sin of disobedience to the Lord. After praying and repenting, weeping and pouring myself out before God, I realized that I can no longer sit on the sidelines and wait for people to come my way. I prayed that God would give me a vision for what He wants ME to do. I don't honestly care at this point who else is doing what, but I MUST commit myself to this work of saving souls. I welcome all who will join me, and there is much work to be done, but I warn you it scares me to death, but not nearly as scared am I of that as I am of the idea that God had work for me to do that I would disregard and deny. I will not be ashamed of the gospel any longer. I know that seems like an emotional response and that I may be a zealot, but if we honestly search our hearts and seek the Lord, we cannot come up with any other verdict.
When God calls us to do, and we refuse, we are ashamed of Him. We are not willing to be persecuted, abandoned, and live without fear of men. I think the fear of man is what keeps us from realizing what we should be doing. The fear of the Lord, the realization that God will judge us one day is a sobering thought that we need to dwell on. God did not save us so that we can sit around and sing and have suppers. He saved us so that we could tell others. If we will not stand up, then the rocks will cry out. If we choose to disobey, then God will use someone else, but do we want to be on that side of God? Do you want to be the one God raised up to use, that refuses to follow his master and king? I don't want to be there, and I hope the fire that is burning in my heart spreads throughout the world.
This fire will go on, there will be those who follow God's leading, stand up and be counted among those who will follow "to the ends of the earth", but that may be getting ahead of myself. Next post will be about what God has specifically shown me I should be doing NOW!

Here I am at the end of my time and I didn't get back to the Halls or our trip, or even what scared Sara, seems I will have to finish that story next time.


And then there were 5....just watch as the Lord moves

We have been on a whirlwind tour lately, with a lot of changes in our family and tons of stories to tell. Since I don't know where to start, I guess I will be starting about last Thursday, since that was my last blog.
If you have read many of my posts, you know that Sara and I have been foster parents, and that because of our love of children, have endured a lot in order to help kids who cannot live with their parents. We had 3 siblings living with us for a while, and then the oldest moved in with a family member. With just the 2 younger kids left, we had some semblance of balance, with the boys being close in age and having similar interests, and for the most part the same with the younger girl and our Virginia.
There were problems that come with trying to assimilate, but overall, we were doing well. That is, until the state started telling us what to do, what not to do, etc. Read my older posts and get an idea of that story if you wish, but I won't drag it out here. Ultimately, Sara and I felt that God would not have us allowing children in our home and under our care to not be held accountable to our standards. We read our Bibles and pray together, our whole lives revolve around God and His Word. It is not possible to keep a family running as the Lord spells out for us if an atheistic organization that is diametrically opposed to our beliefs and world view is in our home making rules for us to live by.
After much prayer and consideration, Godly counsel and studying the Bible, we knew that we could no longer live this way. Our license to parent foster kids was up last week and we refused to go to the classes they demanded we take in order to keep working for the state. Funny, before I just typed that, I had not thought of myself as a state employee, and since I have seen that, I must admit that I could not in good conscience continue to work for anyone that opposed God and His ways. That is why we quit. We felt we could not follow God and also allow an ungodly presence or order in our home.
After informing those in charge that we would not be renewing our license, we were told that they would consider what to do with the kids currently in our care. We told them we would love to keep the kids and would even be OK with not getting paid anything to offset their expenses. But the day our license ran out, we got a call telling us that the kids were leaving, and right after school! Evidently, we are not considered team players anymore and it may be that God allowed us to cut this tie immediately, even though we were not sure what He would do. Our decision was to let God take care of how long they stayed, and we are now confident that we did the right thing.
I know some who read this are (or were, or will be) foster parents or adoptive parents. I would just leave this word of caution to those in this field. You can love kids, sacrifice for them, give of your home, your money, your time, and your family and many times make a difference for the rest of a child's life. This comes with the risk of losing what God instructs us to do in His Word. I am not saying you cannot be a foster parent, and if God is leading you to do that, then you should absolutely follow Him. What I am saying is to be prayerful and careful that your own children (your responsibility given by God) and marriage is the first priority. It is great to do ministry and to reach out, but our first commitment as Christians is to God, then our family, then others.
As a Christian man, I must not allow the world inside the walls of my home. The influences from secular education, promiscuity, false teachings, and denial of God is prevalent in government offices. Agreeing to forgo anything that God has instructed us to do as parents is sin. There is not other way to put it. God tells us to do things a certain way, and if we do not follow, we are in sin. It is far too easy to disregard the "little things" that someone else being in charge of your home means to your everyday life and your walk with the Lord. Don't be fooled, go in with your eyes open, and weigh everything in prayer and study it through in God's Word before making any decision.
So, we are back to just the 5 of us for now. We are back on track with our Bible reading, prayer life, and education. Our schedule is clearer, but not for much longer. The Lord is leading in powerful ways, so hang on to your hat. It is gonna be a bumpy ride. Just read the story I will post later and you will begin to catch the vision God has set before us.


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Time to order chicks- beware of people throwing rocks

I am amazed at the names I have been called in the last few days. Over at one of the homesteading forums, I have been called stupid, irresponsible, one who lacks common sense, and a few other things. All this over ordering chicks to arrive this time of year, which would be assumed OK since most hatcheries send chicks this direction year round.
Now I would rather, if I lived in a climate more temperate, that we order chicks when there was no cold weather, but in Maine, there are only a few months that it would be considered OK to order live chicks through the mail. Another issue is that the U.S. Postal Service is not exactly caring about the fate of day old chickens that happen upon their post offices. Here in Warren, you have to practically hound them hourly in order to find out when the chicks have arrived. We choose to pick them up at the PO since being stuck in someone's car while they deliver mail around town is more than I care to trust the average postal worker with. We just want our chicks, who we pay extra postage to get quickly, alive and well.
Some people are shocked that the USPS even ships live animals anymore. The business is HUGE money for the USPS and they know better than to mess to much with farmers. McMurray Hatchery alone(one of more than 20 hatcheries in the US) ships over 100,000 chicks a week from their Iowa hatchery, year round in all temperatures. Most times the chicks that get where they are going in 2 days or less are completely fine unless someone is careless and leaves them by a drafty door or out on a loading dock.
I don't mean to complain, so I need to get to the point of the post. We chose to go with Ideal Hatchery out of Texas this time, as we have a few times before. Ideal has good layer breeds and a good reputation for quick shipping. I don't know how, but we always get our birds quicker from Texas than from Iowa, which I would suppose would be because of the way packages are shipped nowadays. I am always amazed how quickly they can get these little peepers most of the way across the country in just a few days. I am also amazed how much it costs to do so. It usually is about 50% or more of the cost of the chicks themselves.
What we decided on, after much thought (and some hints from the kids) was to get another 15 layers and let the kids have some birds for pets. We got a variety of egg layers, which starts off with the most productive white and brown egg layers you can find. Ideal's "236" is a white layer that is a leghorn variety known for producing more than 300 eggs a year. The Production Reds are a brown egg layer and average over 275 eggs a year. The Americaunas (spelling??) lay green and/or blue eggs and are a beautiful bird. I am going to attach pictures of these birds soon, maybe at the end of the post, so you can see what we are getting.
We decided the kids would get 5 birds each for their own, so Virginia picked a Silver Laced Wyandotte Bantam, and Nathaniel got some Mille Fluer Dutch Bantams. Both are beautiful plumage birds that are cold hardy and will live in their own pen apart from the larger, egg layers. Virginia will be responsible for the bantams, and Nathaniel will continue to take care of the layers and broilers(seasonally).
This batch was decided more on the basis of production, cold hardiness, and broodiness in the bantams. We would like to let the bantams hatch some of their eggs and felt it would be a great way to get started hatching our own eggs.


OK, I did the pics, and they are from top to bottom, Ameracaunas(pullet on right), 236 (pullet in front), Production Reds(pullet in front) and then the bantams will be mixed, with the larger ones being male, smaller being female.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Putting feet to your faith- get up and do something

OK, I have been harping a lot lately about witnessing. I have just finished going through my entire address book and written letters with a tract enclosed to everyone I know that I am not sure about their salvation. This was actually a freeing exercise for me. I often don't know how to talk to my father, my brother, aunts and uncles, about God. Many would rather argue or complain about their previous experiences with church or religion. Some are unsaved religious folk, and others would not ever think to pick up a Bible.
I did not do this to offend anyone, but rather to show how much I love them. I have been praying that God will show me someone that I need to share the gospel with, and I knocked out a couple dozen tonight. I expect a mixed response of those who are already sure of their salvation, those who are interested in learning, and those who will just blow it off and not talk to me anymore.
Today has been one of those days that God just took me out to the woodshed and beat me senseless. I could use more of those days. I hope that many, if not all of the people I reached out to, will ask more questions and that the Holy Spirit will work in their hearts so that they will see their need for a Savior from their sin. I was in church weekly as a child and taught about the Bible, but never put it to heart until I was 25. I had heard it all and knew the stories. I knew that I was a sinner, but there was no reality to what I knew. I had not surrendered my life to God and followed Jesus with all my heart. I had never experienced repentance that emptied me of guilt and shame from my sin. What a freeing time that was. What a change in my life, looking for what God had for me, instead of what I could get out of life.
It is with this thought in mind that I decided that it is worth risking offending someone for the purpose of showing them the love of God that reached down and offered us the free gift of salvation. Tonight, we read "Way of the Master for kids" book to the foster children. It has a full plan of salvation, starting with creation and following all the way through Jesus and the Apostles. I know the state will not be happy with this, but it is our duty to tell the kids what we know to be the truth. We will take the consequences whatever they may be, but we now can rest easy that we have told them the most important thing anyone will ever tell them, who God really is and what He has done for them. I pray that this seed of the gospel grows in their hearts and they are born again. We may not get to see that fruit, but we count it a privilege to follow Jesus in this way. Keep these folks in prayer, that God will open their hearts and minds to the truth.


We got more land,,, wait a minute!

Nathaniel is the pioneer woodsman of the family. His heart's desire is to explore the great wilderness that is out behind our house. Mind you we live in a subdivided section of manufactured homes and have neighbors on both sides. We have 1 whole acre, we know, but what we didn't know is that we were miscalculating where the markers belong that show the boundary lines.
Nathaniel and Virginia were out trudging through the woods, whacking prickle bushes and enjoying the snow, and looking for something that has been hidden for years. We have owned this property for over 4 years and could never find the boundary stakes. Half the problem is that we looked at the wrong time of year when shrubs, prickles, and leaves were obscuring our view. If we had looked in the winter (and if Daddy had pointed him in the right direction) Nathaniel would probably have found it long ago.
I never much cared where the lines were until I started devising a fence line to maximize how many critters we could have. Now that I have all these visions of more chickens, sheep, goats, and whatever else I can have without being thrown out of the town, I really wanted to know where the line was. So, my little man went to searching. We found out that a few feet of the fence my neighbor built is actually on my land. We found that a bit of the neighbors back yard is also on my land. Not that I am going to go kick him out, but believe me I will be clearing a path for my fence, thus allowing more critters.
On his travels, Nathaniel also found the opposing corner marker, which was also hard to find any other time of year. Since we figured we could not find them again when it was fence building season, I drove larger stakes and marked them with a colorful flag made out of a long sleeved shirt with blue, yellow, and green stripes. That should be easy to find in the spring, I hope.
So, according to my calculations, I can fence off about half an acre, and that is enough for the chickens and a sheep or goat or two. Won't be good enough to graze a calf on for a few years, but we will keep working on it. I would be happier with a calf raised to about 4 months on grass, but I also don't want to buy hay, so we will do just fine with a sheep or goat.
Next thing to do is make final preparations for the fence. I am still considering the pallet fence, but may just go with wire and use the pallets for my new sheep/goat shed. Maybe even a new wood shed. Nathaniel was given a riding mower from Grampa, so we will need someplace to park that over winter, and I would rather have the shed to do wood work, so a new woodshed made of pallets is probably in order.

Keep your chin up, warmer days must be coming soon.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

Charity without love- the great distraction

1 Corinthians 13, John 4:7-30, Exodus 20
Everyone who was raised in Sunday School or most any church background will know that 1 Corinthians 13 is the "love" or "charity" chapter, depending on which Bible translation they were taught from. Everyone knows that love is the greatest gift, and that the Bible speaks often of God's love for us or Jesus' love poured out on the cross. It is only by the love of God that we are even able to have His Word written for us and it is only through this Word that we have hope of salvation and a road map to eternity in heaven. So, why would I propose that charity could ever be a distraction?
I start with the example of Jesus, talking to the woman at the well. Jesus knew her malady, he knew her sin. Jesus spoke to her in an earthly discussion, He brought up a discussion and then brought it around from the natural to the supernatural. He spoke of water, which we all need to live. Our bodies are designed by God with a distinct, undeniable need for water. Our souls are designed with a specific need also, that of the living water Jesus spoke to the lady about.
Jesus, after asking a few questions, getting the know this woman, began opening up about her sinful ways, and her need for a Savior from that sin. He brought about the knowledge of sin from the Old Testament and the 10 commandments in Exodus 20. Upon being told about God and the truth(which Jesus is the truth) she realized that He was not talking about natural water, but of spiritual matters. He revealed Himself as the Messiah, and told her "I that speak to you am He"
This must have blown her away, either this guy was crazy or he was right. She chose to believe that Jesus was who he said he was. She then went and told the whole city of what Jesus had told her and done for her. What a great reminder of what it means to be saved, to be cleansed from sin and made whole again.
From this and other examples in the life of Jesus, we do not see anything about bringing people in with food pantries, soup kitchens, clothing drives, or basketball games. We see Jesus talking honestly and in person to someone he cared about. Jesus did not personally know this woman, nor had he shared months in conversation getting to know her, He just out and out told her that she was a sinner( a fact she would not dispute) and offer her the truth of Messiah, salvation, and eternal life. Why would we think that John was instructed by God to put this story into God's Word unless it was to be an example to us of how to go about the work God has called us to do?
So, what is so bad about charity work? Nothing at all. My contention is that we often, as the body of Christ, get distracted with programs designed to get people in, make them comfortable, and enjoying themselves, that we forget why we wanted them in the building. These programs, when used to show God's love and then show them God's salvation, are great. It is when we throw the salvation part out(or put it in the back seat saving it for when folks are comfortable) that we are on a dangerous road, a wide road that leads to destruction. I fear the destruction we will see is the ineffectiveness of the church in the world. We have been watching the decline of morality for years and tried to treat the symptoms, but without addressing the cause. We can cure drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, abortion, homosexuality, and a host of other societal ills only when we bring the knowledge of sin about and offer the gift of salvation to all that will accept.
We often are told to invite people to church, but often we do so to make ourselves feel better about not personally witnessing to folks we meet or know. I have heard the argument often "we have a pastor who is paid to do this, he is supposed to preach the Gospel and that is how people will get saved." This is a load of hogwash. Jesus, in Matthew 28 didn't tell those in attendance to pick someone who would be in charge, bring unsaved folks to him, and he will tell them about Jesus. He told them to GO, personally, and preach to every creature.
How many of those we invite to church will never come? How many that we have opportunity to speak with will not take the invitation to come, and so we may be the only chance they have to hear the Gospel? How many souls have been forever lost due to the disregard of God's people for sinners headed for hell?
What I see happening more and more, and what I have read recently in a book (which no one should buy or bother to read) that someone had given me is that we should have more programs designed to meet "felt needs" so that people will feel comfortable in the church, not threatened or scared by consequence of God's judgment. Instead, the book "The next American spirituality" by George Gallup(the pollster), tells of how churches should survey the community, find out what their needs are, and do their best to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and shelter the homeless. He never mentions their eternal destiny. He does not speak of getting folks in and helping them with the burden of sin they are carrying all the way to hell.
The book is about charity without love, feed the hungry so they can die and go to hell tomorrow. Clothe the naked so they can freeze to death and go to hell next week. Never mind their spiritual condition, which is their ONLY TRUE NEED! If you give someone a home to live in, maybe they will ask you about why you are different. Garbage, I say! If they don't know you are different by the words you say, and your genuine care for their eternal salvation, then you are missing a bit of what Jesus was saying.
I note that Jesus did not draw physical water for this woman, nor did he provide her with a home to live in so she would stop living in adultery. He provided "living water" that changed her life, saved her soul, and was so contagious that she went and spread that word to everyone she saw. When we see people dying headed for hell, why are we not doing something about it? Many times it is due to the lack of love(true love) we have for others. If we love someone, do we want them to go to hell for eternity? If not, we had better put our love into practice and start the business of winning souls for Christ.
Not everyone will listen, and the Holy Spirit must complete the work in someone's heart, but our job, our calling, and our command from God is to tell them. It is a privilege to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ, to speak of God's love for His creation. Why then do I keep hearing about evangelism as some task to be scared of, or something that "just isn't my calling"? I think that many don't want to have to suffer for God's calling. I know that in my own life it is easier to just do what everyone else does, but that will not please God. I want to please God in my own life and I hope that others will join me in this quest. Let's get moving, people!


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Decisions, how should we make them?

References James 1, 2 Peter 1:3-7,14-13-16,Exodus 20:16-17, Proverbs 3:1-7, Job 23: 10-12

Something you have to find humorous about "mobile homes" aka a trailer, is that if you don't make the payments for an extended period of time, they can actually take your house. I don't mean they can throw you out, but they can stick it on a truck and run off with it.
A month or so ago, we found out that the trailer next door was for sale. The lot that it sat on is also for sale. Evidently, the lot rent had not been paid in a while, nor had the payment on the trailer, so the sale signs go up. According to what I was told(mind you this home was about 120 feet away from my own home) that the owners were far behind on their payments and we knew they moved out a few months ago.
Why this has anything to do with me is because I, upon learning it was for sale, immediately had the thought of buying the land and trailer and renting it out. There is something in my blood that makes me want to spend money that I don't have completely on impulse. This is where I stop and thank the Lord for my wife. Sara nonchalantly asked" why do you want to buy it?" and I came up with a few reasons, none of which were selfish but some which were just plain stupid(I can admit that). Funny enough, I was thinking that we could buy the place and rent it out cheap to a family that could not afford much or let a single mom with kids live there free. This is really what went through my head. There are reasons that I did not buy it.
First reason is that, while it would be nice to be able to pick my new neighbors, it was fiscally irresponsible to buy anything that I would have to go into debt for. I have made this mistake before buying a truck I could not afford, and have been trying to sell it to pay it off for almost a year now. I did not need a 4WD truck with low low miles, but I certainly did WANT one. Want should never be the deciding factor in these decisions, but a certain unnamed man(HA) is impulsive sometimes and does not seek the Lord's will as often as he should.
Next reason why I should not buy it is related to the first. We made about 17000 dollars last year for our family of 5(7 with foster kids) and have a mortgage on our home here that will not be paid off for 20 years. We cannot afford the place, and from a purely financial standpoint, we would be forcing another burden on ourselves for the sake of some whim.
Why I write about this problem here is that I am just as culpable as anyone else of doing the wrong thing. In fact, I usually see my place along with Paul the apostle when he refers to himself as "chief among sinners". It seems no matter how hard I try, I still fail on a regular basis. I have outlined a few principles by which to make decisions, and it is pretty simple. What spurred me about this subject was the book I wrote about a while ago called "The waning authority of Christ in the Churches" by A.W. Tozer. The problem he talks about here is the same in the structure of the church or the simplicity of our own lives.
As a Christian, a man who truly wants to follow wherever the Lord leads me, I should be thinking first about if God wants me to do something, or if I am the one out of selfishness that wants to continue in a course of action. A "why we do what we do" kind of thing
1.What is the purpose?- would this bring honor and glory to God? If not, throw out the thought right now. If the purpose of our lives is to bring honor and glory to God, then something that would be opposed to that end would be useless and trivial.
2. Could this action keep me from doing what God has for me?-If God is leading you one direction, and this decision would keep you from doing what God has led you to do, He may be moving you, but you may be running away from Him. Prayer and meditation on God's Word, along with the wise counsel of godly men is what Scripture proposes as the means by which to make decisions.
3. Does Scripture say anything about this subject?- if the Bible is opposed to a course of action, then throw it out. If Jesus was ever quoted saying "_______ should never be done" or "_____ will be punished. An example I would think would be the idea of "using lying to do God's work" I have been told that if God wants us to take Bibles into China(an illegal act) and a border guard asks you if you are bringing in Bibles, you should lie. I see in the Bible a few dozen references that we "shall not bear false witness" and that all liars will have their place in the lake of fire. Doesn't seem to be what God would have us do, does it? Doing the wrong thing for the right reason is still the wrong thing. If God wants Bibles in China, He will make it happen. How much more faith does it take to go knowing that you could be put in jail or beaten for spreading God's Word. If God wants the Bibles there, He may distract the guard, or cause them to not ask you.
God may have, as part of His divine plan, that you spend time being persecuted for the sake of the Gospel. Richard Wurmbrand of Voice of the Martyrs spent years in a prison preaching the Gospel to other prisoners and guards. If God is calling you to go to China with Bibles, GO, but don't expect it to be easy. We are told to "take up your cross and follow" and read a lot about suffering for the name of Christ Jesus. We should count it a privilege to be considered along with Paul, Stephen, Peter who were persecuted for God, but held up under the trials, knowing that the job they were doing was much more important than their personal comfort.
I know this came a long way from deciding whether or not to buy a trailer next door, but I know that God, when I sought His advice, was telling me not to go into debt for this. The Bible speaks a lot about going into debt, and the implications that come with it. I would have been wrong to make this decision based on emotion or impulse rather than follow God. I would also be wrong to see clearly what God was trying to do in my life and not follow it. Personal evangelism is an area that often I fail at. While I do witness to people, I miss a lot of opportunities, too. I know what God has shown me that I should do, and I need to fulfill that calling. If He cannot trust me to tell those I meet about Jesus and their need for salvation, why would He trust me to go to China to give out Bibles or count me worthy of suffering for Him? As we are faithful to what God calls us to do, He will reward us with more. That "more" may be hardships and trials and persecution, but I want to be known by the Lord as someone who counted it all joy when I was put through the fire, and that I came out refined like gold. It is through the fire that we are made pure, and that thought scares the mortal man in me, but reminds the immortal man in me that we serve a great God who set the world in place and wants to see us following after Him. God's desire is that we follow Him, not just when it is easy, but when we need to be tried and pressed. It is in the hardest times that we show what we are truly made of. Decisions, decisions, DECISIONS!!! Which one will you make?

Mark Cowperthwaite

Monday, February 4, 2008

Scripture out of context, getting rich from Matthew 6

We had a wonderful mens meeting yesterday. We talked about a subject that I have been seeing more and more lately. The theme throughout the emergent church movement and many of todays liberal churches is that the Scripture needs to become more socially relevant to our times. I have seen verses taken out of context to attempt to get more money, justify more debt, and to justify women taking leadership roles and men becoming more like mice than the men God tells them to be.
Robert Tilton is a prime example of this, as he uses verses out of context,(many having nothing to do with the subject at all) to say that if you send him money, God will give you a lot more money back. The thought of promises of blessing and God wanting the best for us just sounds so loving, like God should be, right?
The issue with this argument is that they would like to throw out sin, judgment, wrath, and hell from the equation, even though these are some of the most dominant themes in scripture. Tilton has become a millionaire over and over while picking the pockets of unsuspecting little old ladies on Social Security. I don't see anywhere in the Bible that says we should take advantage of the elderly, rather that we should take care of the widows and those in need. God also does not always bless us with material things, in fact, the love of money is the root of evil.
Money is not bad, it is a tool, and God can see fit to bless us with material possessions, but when the possessions become the goal of our lives and we lose sight of what God tells us to do, we have an idol on our hands. When we live for money, and give to God in the expectation of money in return, we have taken that tool and made it the reason we live. It is with these people that try to twist the Word of God around so they are put in positions of power and personal glory that I have the problem.
I have seen Matthew 6:19-21 and 31-34 taken to mean some very diverse things. Some would say that you should give away all possessions so that nothing distracts you from God(might not be a bad idea, but not exactly what it is talking about here). I would say that we are to be good stewards(referenced in Scripture often) which means "house manager" and is not talking about managing our own things, but someone else's stuff, which in this is God's stuff. Sorry, I had a point and will get back to it, I guess.
Others would say that in verse 33, we are told that if we "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you" What are "these things" anyway? Well, if we read the verse in context we realize that "these things" does not refer to everything we ever wanted or the cattle on a thousand hills. Look back into verse 31 and see that he was talking about food, drink, and clothing. Looking back into this chapter, we see that the issue was not if you had enough food, or clothing, but that people were looking to store up treasure on earth INSTEAD of treasure in heaven. They were trying more to get things on this earth instead of serving God.
Money or material possessions had become more important. How much money is enough to satisfy? Ask Paris Hilton or Brittney Spears, maybe. Evidently they have not gotten enough just yet, so they are still seeking. Maybe Bill Gates has enough. Since he has never spoken a word in public about God or being a Christian, I assume that he has not found that treasure on earth will rust, decay, and rot, whereas serving God wholly is the only source of eternal treasure. How many people in the history of the world have been known for their service and dedication to God who were really rich? I find that those who are spending all their time managing their vast monetary resources generally don't think too much about tribes of unsaved villages in Papua, New Guinea or even the local kids at Good News Club. We need to be careful that we use money as a tool to serve God, not to serve money and fit God in wherever we have a vacancy in the schedule.
No matter whether it be about money or much weightier things, we need to always examine the Scripture carefully, referencing other passages helps also. When it comes down to it, we see in 1 John 2:18-29 that many will come and try to make the Bible say something that it doesn't so that they can profit or gain power. We are warned in Romans 2 Peter and Matthew (to name a few) that there will be false teachers that misrepresent God's truth and His Word.
That is the end reason for all cults, be it Jim Jones, David Koresh, or the Mormon Church's Joseph Smith. We need to see that it is the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the hearts of believers that ministers to us. If you never owned a Bible, the Holy Spirit(coming in at the time of salvation) would still minister to you and lead you into all truth. God never contradicts himself, so you can be sure that if someone is using a passage of the Bible to contradict another, they are a heretic and should not be trusted. Be on your guard, and be in the Word. Listen when the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart. Follow after God and you will not have the wool pulled over your eyes.
Good reading for this would also come from Ephesians 6:12-18 about the whole armor of God. This passage tells us of the tools we can use to keep ourselves from being deceived and to make sure we are fighting on the right side of the battle. When we honor God through prayer, studying the Word, living righteously, having all faith, and the other parts listed here, we will honor our God and He will bless us.
That blessing just may be with the honor of suffering for His sake, instead of money(wow, I just stepped on my own toes there!). Are we counted worthy of suffering for the sake of Christ? If not, why not? Guess I will have more to write later.


Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Eagle Story-- Seven steps to overcome sin.

I recently got an email about the book "The Eagle Story" that read as follows:
"Hi there, if you by any chance have the book, and if posting a quote is ok, would you be willing to post the seven steps? My copy of the book is in a box in an attic in the U.S.
Back in the day, my father simplified the steps so my little sibs could memorize them more easily. And now I only remember the dumbed-down ones. ("We don't say that word!" I can hear my brother saying all the way across the pond.)"
I am not able to post the whole of this answer, but I don't believe it would be infringing on the copyright of the book to post the steps. So, for those who don't have the book or have not read it completely, the book talks about how to keep ourselves from falling into the snare of temptation and sin. The steps are below, but this is by no means able to tell the whole story. Nevertheless, I think the steps are profitable, but you really need to read the book for yourself. It is available at amazon.com and probably many other places ( not on christianbook.com, I looked)

Seven steps to conquer sinful habits.
1. Engraft Romans 6 and 8 into your soul.
2.Meditate on these verses day and night.
3.Picture yourself dead to the power and appeal of sin.
4.Make no provision for sinful habits.
5.Compare the law of sin to the law of gravity(explained well in the book)
6.Become accountable to your God given authority
7.Recognize and obey the Scriptural promptings of God's Spirit.

Sorry I cannot explain these better right now, but I don't feel that I should copy the whole thing. It just would not be right. If you cannot afford a copy of this book, check your local or church library. I may be able to find a copy to lend out also. It is a great resource, but the story always points back to Scripture, and that is its greatest strength. Ultimately, we should always check all information from men back to how it agrees with the Word of God. I hope you enjoy this book.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Reading- what you read is the important part

References: Psalm 119:11, 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Proverbs 1:7,3:5-7, 9:10
Sara and I recently listened to a broadcast CD from Family Life Today( I believe that is the name) which talked about turning off the TV and reading more. After listening through the broadcast, I was left with a few thoughts.
The first thought is that reading could be considered a more thought provoking, imagination workout. There are books that will teach you how to do about anything you are interested in. Gardening, building tree houses, tennis, plumbing, you name the subject and your local library has a book on the subject. Nathaniel has found books on special effects, bicycle repair, and frogs. Public libraries can be a very useful tool for expanding your horizons. TV can teach you also, but most of the programming is entertainment, not educational or uplifting.
My second thought is that the whole basis of this program we listened to had not so much to do with reading, but with reading the books the guest was selling. He was promoting his own publishing company and selling his own product under the guise of getting people to read. I appreciate his love for reading, but he never said anything about reading any book he did not publish personally. It seemed a little self serving, rather than the supposed topic of helping kids get away from the TV and into reading. Also, church, school, and public libraries have most of these books for free reading, which saves families money. I can appreciate saving money.
Another thing that stood out to me is that I really don't see a lot of difference between TV and reading in most areas. Both require you to sit for hours on end in stead of being active. Both have poor content available(watching MTV or soap operas is no worse than reading romance novels) so that argument is only valid in certain circumstances. You can get garbage through a book or a TV, the key is to be careful what you put in no matter the media type.
The foremost point, which I left for last as it would be the longest, was that this fellow, on Christian radio, who was a Christian himself, never once mentioned God's Word as a source. The Bible has stories of adventure, family, wars, history, love, and of course the basis for our existence. We use our Bibles here at home for building us closer to the Lord, for teaching our children, learning history, and many other things. Human behavior can be studied throughout history by examining the Scripture. We can see how man reacts to God, and how God reveals himself to man. The God that created us has revealed Himself to us through the power of the written word. That is our greatest source of education that we can experience.
When God chose men to write His words to keep for all eternity, He was showing us what He intended for us in the garden of Eden. He shows us what happens when we disobey Him. God has given us the only completely accurate history of the world. In "The Star of Bethlehem" we see how God created the entire universe to give us evidence of Himself and to prove how prophecies that He gave to men would be fulfilled in the earthly arrival of Jesus Christ, God's only son.
So, in the great media debate over books versus TV, I would conclude that God's Word is the only book we really need, but many expository books(that accurately interpret Scripture) can help us see how this amazing book applies to our lives. I am always cautious, however, of any book written by man that is not the inspired Word of God. Anyone can make mistakes or interject their own opinion. Not everything I write is correct, even though I write with the best of intentions. We must always use Scripture to check the accuracy of the writings of man, or we take the chance of missing or misinterpreting what God truly has for us.
I was recently pouring over the Bible study books on my shelf and realized that I need to throw out a lot of them, that is, after getting all the laughter out of my system. My laughter soon turned to disgust when I saw that this person writing had taken so many things and turned them to her own point of view. People often give me books about the Bible as I have taken an interest in reading more lately, but much of what we see is garbage. This book was in that category. The writer spoke about Paul contradicting himself, Peter "lying about his death" for the sake of getting a point across, and many other heresies and false teachings.
So, if you want a good book, read the Holy Bible. Read a literal translation if you want to get any doctrine out of it. Read it daily and let God's Word to you be pervasive and influence everything you do. If you can find a good commentary or book about living what you read, carefully examine it against Scripture and see if it holds up to the test. If it doesn't, throw it out, burn it, or otherwise dispose of it. There are too many false teachings in the world, we should not throw our money at authors that disregard God's point of view or distort His teachings. I want to challenge everyone reading this to get into the Word today. Do it daily in prayer and meditate on what God is showing you. It will change your life, I guarantee it.