John the Baptist

No Mercy for the Enemies of the Harvest #31Days

We head out to the garden and animals every morning. 7:30 sharp, well most of the time. I don’t carry a reputation for punctuality. This morning I lovingly made biscuits. When I opened the oven, they were burnt. To the touch, they were still soft. So, I ushered the children in to gobble some up before they cooled to the stiffness of rocks.

Yum… fresh biscuits, slightly dark, but that’s okay. All is well.

Then sang the series of yucks! Yuck! Gag!

Heavy on the baking soda.

“Oh, well. Chicken food! That’s what I just spent my time doing,” I’m thinking as I survey the mess of a kitchen…

“Baking chicken biscuits.”

Sigh.

8:00

“Quick! Quick! Outside guys! Grab the biscuits. Let’s go.”

We moved into this house out in the country ten months ago to start a little homestead. We’ve learned to garden… I mean GARDEN. We are producing enough food that I am canning and freezing consistently. We even have a second garden- a fodder garden! Eek! I love the sound of that. This garden grows food for the livestock. Bless my soul just about sums it up. My previous garden in the city would squeeze out a small, often pitiful harvest. Now, to grow food for the animals, too… May I just say: Beside. Myself. Really, I am.

I’ve always loved dirt, used to eat it, in fact. Some say this is evidence of a mineral deficiency. Nonetheless, I can clearly remember as a child sampling the soils in various places. I was on a little hunt for just the right flavor. Any old dirt would not do. I could immediately tell when I found the right plot to indulge. I loved the feel in my little hands and the taste in my mouth was just what I was seeking. I can imagine little me, down on my knees, hidden from all other eyes closing my own and licking my lips enjoying the treasure I had searched for and found.

Well, you might know I needed to give this love affair up with dirt. I was sick on several occasions. The Dr. looked at me sternly and said, “Don’t eat dirt anymore”. That stern look frightened me and I believed something terrible might happen if I did not heed this advice.

I never touched dirt to my lips again. Cold turkey, you might say.

But, Oh, every morning all these years later I’m down in it on my hands and knees. I crawl through the rows picking weeds and surveying for bugs and damage as I go. I love it.

This dirt freshly tilled just a couple months ago sports a beautiful harvest and harvest to be.

I’ve learned:

Number 1-

Every day in the dirt makes a big difference.

Number 2-

The garden is a battlefield.

no mercy

I have become a crusher of the enemies in the garden.

Right now enemy number one is this green worm, he goes by “Cabbage Worm”.

The orders were- spot them, crush them- No Mercy for the Enemies of the Harvest!

Today, the count was a whopping 250… crushed. Bare hands and boots were our only combat weapons.

Yes, we counted every darn one.

I closed my eyes this very evening to kiss my husband and I saw worms in my mind’s eye.

We were obviously serious, focused, and on mission today in the garden.

Francis Frangipane, in his book, The Three Battlegrounds, writes, “When the Holy Spirit shows us an area that needs repentance, we must overcome the instinct to defend ourselves. We must silence the little lawyer who steps out from a dark closet in our minds, pleading, ‘My client is not so bad.'”

God came to save us, rescue us from our impossible situation. He tills up the garden of our hearts and plants a harvest. BUT… He did not come to do everything for us… to enable and approve of lazy, selfish, consuming bums.

The gospel calls us to difficult… the daily “walking our rows” with the light of the Word lit up by the Spirit as our guide. Pulling, crushing, humbling ourselves under the mighty hand of God.

I’ve learned:

Number 1-

Every day in the Word makes a big difference.

Number 2-

My heart is a battlefield.

The Bible says that Satan prowls around looking for whom he may devour. The thought of a snake coming at me is enough to make me shiver with fear edging on terror, how much more an ancient foe that hates me? And how bout that foe within me? O man, if I could blame everything on Satan, but there is a part of me that would agree with every wickedness that He could throw my way. That part- must be crushed- death to pride… bowing myself by an act of my will under God’s mighty hand.

There is to be No Mercy for the Enemies of the Harvest

John the Baptist, was this kind… “walking his rows” out there in the wilderness… He threw caution to the wind when it came to his faith in God and His promises- He sought no position among men, but was fully aligned in the wilderness with what was prophesied in the Word about his position with his God and His kingdom purpose:

The voice of one crying in the wilderness:”Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5

And on this side of history waiting… Am I this kind? Daily walking my rows, with the light of the Word and the Spirit as my guide.

All distractions from the One laid aside…

My God has fulfilled His covenant and died in my place. There is no obstacle except that for which I will not let go. He wants to conquer all my gods, all my fears, all my sickness, all my lies. He wants me to agree with Him- giving no mercy to the enemies of the harvest.

I bless you Dear Reader, morning by morning “walking your rows”, hearing Him saying, “This is the way” and heeding Him, laying down the sins He reveals, taking up praise, and walking with Him moment by moment.

Your life is meant to shine for Him… a harvest unspoiled by sin.

To Him Alone,

Diana

Jacked Up Places Do NOT Equal a Jacked Up God #31Days

jacked up

John the Baptist was born into jacked up times.

Remember Herod the Great?

He was the one jealous of the prophesied King to be born under a star.

He was the one who ordered the killing of the baby boys two and under.

Yes, that Herod was ruling when John the Baptist was born.

Herod was an Idumean under Roman domination, ruling over the Jewish people. Gentiles were everywhere throughout the land, ruling, and taxing the people.*

The Jewish people were oppressed IN the promised land.

And the religious leaders of the Jews? Oh! Many were blind guides, who strained out gnats and white washed their tombs of dead men’s bones keeping people from God instead of ministering God to the people.

And to show the mix up of this time period further: A movement began to search the scriptures to see what the future held. Many believed that the time had come for the Messiah.*

John grew up in the desert- He was a Levite,

a priest from the line of Aaron from the tribe of Levi FROM BOTH SIDES!

Yes, Zacharias, John’s father AND Elizabeth, John’s mother

Both descended from the line of Aaron.

He had Levite coming from both sides.

A priest with a call to prepare the way for the Great High Priest, Jesus.

Now, stick with me and listen to what Malachi, the last prophet to speak in the Old Testament before the four hundred years of silence that preceded John and Jesus’s birth says concerning the Levites. First, he admonishes the priests and then says this:

“And you will know that I have sent you this admonition

so that MY COVENANT

with Levi may continue,”

says the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY,

MY COVENANT was with him,

a COVENANT of life and peace,

and I gave them to him.

This called for reverence and he revered me

and stood in awe

of my name.”

Let’s recap…

Remember the jacked up times John the Baptist was born into? Put that together with Malachi’s prophesy and like my thirteen year old daughter would say, “Bam!”.

God’s Covenant with Levi continues with this Levi of a Levite, Mr. John the Baptist!

Would you chew on that for a minute with me? Picture God for a moment taking a divine finger and pointing at His chest every time He makes reference to Himself in that verse. Go back and read it again. Every time He points to Himself… He is talking about the God of the universe, the One who speaks and light appears, water parts, stars spread across the sky. And those words He speaks? Here’s what Isaiah proclaims:

“The grass withers the flowers fades,

But the Word of our God stands forever” 40:8

And let’s get this afresh: Jacked up places, messed up situations, evil and abuses piled high DO NOT Negate God’s Word.

Everything I may have leaned up against might have been flimsy like grass and fading like a flower. But God is a rock. I can be sure I can lean up hard against Him and He will not fall over.

His will is not always done, we know. It is not His will for a man to walk in a classroom with guns to blow away the brave that answer, “I am a Christian”.

BUT,

We can rest assured

  His purposes are NEVER thwarted.

One of His purposes is that His people trust the Truth over the fear of a gun… the rejection of man, the loud voices of doubt, unbelief, and ego.

For a little while, and in some of our places it will seem like evil has the victory.

But

He made a covenant.

He will come in and fulfill

every

bit

of

it.

He has a plan and it is already set in motion.

And Dear Reader, you and I can take that to the bank of faith and securely deposit it there.

In Memory of the Slain at UCC in Oregon

God, stir up your Word in the hearts of this Oregon community, so that they lean hard against You, the Unchanging God. Thank you for the faithful, who knew he would shoot, and said, “I am a Christian”. To You We Give All the Glory!

In Christ Alone,

Diana

* The quotes marked with an asterisk are from: The Journey Through the Bible by V. Gilbert Beers

31 Days

cottonToday is October the 1st. I have signed on to join over a thousand writers, known as 31 Dayers, to write every day in October.

My topic is purity… with a focus on John the Baptist, who happens to be one of my favorite people in the Bible. He was bold, brave, and absolutely sure of His purpose on this earth: Prepare the way of the Lord!

If he was concerned with what anyone thought of him apart from God, his life gives no indication. He was sold out, all in, and his actions testify to the fact that there was a white surrender flag firmly planted on the soil of his ego.

Each believer receives that same call of wild John the Baptist on this opposite side of His coming as we await His return. Now, collectively, we, who are blood bought, are known as the Bride of Christ- a bunch of wretched, con-artist sinners, washed clean and invited to be wild in the John the Baptist sort of way, which is the way we were intended to live… trusting and loving the One.

We are clothed in the rich robes of grace and truth becoming unified as the Bride. I can think of no other word more appropriately fitting for this Bride that awaits seeing her Bridegroom face to face than… PURITY. Purely, following Him, not seeing Him yet believing that “the pure in heart shall see God”…joined forever with her Beloved.

Join me? I would count it an honor. My fears and failures stir gently nudging me not to write, but I’m choosing John the Baptist boldness and fixing my eyes on Jesus, writing because He first loved me.

Lord, when you come we shall be like You for we shall see You as You are. We have this hope and choose to allow You to purify us. We cooperate with You, the One who is our Purity. 1John 3:2,3

In Christ Alone,

Diana

Something That’s of Worth

A song by Matt Redman:

When the music fades
All is stripped away
And I simply come
Longing just to bring
Something that’s of worth
That will bless your heart

I’ll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You’re looking into my heart

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
And it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
When it’s all about You
It’s all about You, Jesus

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much you deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is yours
Every single breath

An unkempt man in the wilderness, who ate locusts and honey, who cried out his message, was named John by a man and woman, who had long since buried the dream of having a baby.

Most of Israel had also buried a dream under heavy burdens.

Buried under self, pride, ritual, Rome- the burden of Never Doing Enough, of Never Being Enough,  Never Clean Enough, of being lower class citizens while knowing a seemingly contrary history that told them they were chosen by God. And the politics- steep. Religious elites made backroom deals with Romans and kept the people performing with heavy weighted law upon religious law- or else living as outcasts because they wouldn’t conform. The people grew cynical and tired and defeated. The burden of appearances and pushed down tears of a deadening of the spirit that longs to reach out in dependance and find God faithful.

This- buried deep, unstirred, barely breathing.

So instead of longing for a Savior-

One who would say hard, beautiful, true words,

One who would show them their hearts and confirm that they were not enough,

One who would be enough,

One who would Give Them All Of Himself and awaken their spirits to all He envisioned and crafted in each one of them one- by -one,

One who would use the nation Israel, though weak, historically unfaithful, and small- to speak loudly to the nations- stronger and larger about the One true God,

The only One who could say, “You, made in My image, but bound by sin. I come to free you, but you must agree with me first. From the ancient of days, I have said your heart is desperately wicked. And you must agree with me. No matter how painful.”

So, instead of longing for that One who could make beauty from ashes, their waning spirits withered and they longed for Rome overthrown-

For confirmation that they were good and God was on their side. And what better way than God showing their oppressors Himself with a mighty earthly king, that would deal with their circumstances instead of their hearts.

So instead of longing  for the One who could say,” You are Treasured and although you are dust; I, who am not, will die for you. And here, again, is another tough truth to swallow and admit: You are dust. You must lay your lofty, fantasies about yourselves down and agree with me about your weakness.”

They settled for less- a temporary dream instead of an eternal one.

But this John, was prophesied over before his birth. This baby would grow to be a man and fulfill the prophet Isaiah’s reference to, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make Ready the Way of the Lord, Make His Paths Straight!” (Matthew 3:3) (Isaiah 40:3)

And he, John, would grow, and to the wilderness he would go. And, he, would spend time alone. Because to tell a hard message is to lose a popularity contest, so as to get the servant alone with only one set of eyes on him: the ones that matter most. And the music would fade out in the desert, alone, with a meal of locusts and honey and a coat of camel hair.

And him. And Him. There. And he would bend his knee and he would know that apart from God he could do no good thing.

And then, he would turn to tell the people. To stir them. And stir he did. With the only thing that could stir buried spirits. The Word planted in his heart by the King above all Kings spoken at the appointed time.

This, Dear Readers, is what John did. And he baptized the stirred -those who accepted the hard, precious, holy Word. And when the religious came, he called them a brood of vipers and gave them the same message.

Repent!

Produce Fruit Worthy Of Repentance!

Prepare the Way of the Lord!

And Then He, the Messiah,

Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordon coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?”

But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.

And after being baptized Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him, and behold a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)

Ponder that. Prophecy fulfilled. Again. And John touching and baptizing the One he said he was unworthy to even untie His sandals. Oh, but the King had spoken. John- content to fulfill the crying out, the preaching, the life of wilderness living… but this… he had not expected. At the end of looong obedience is Jesus in unexpected, holy ways.

And you. Born at this time. For a purpose: To Repent! To produce fruit worthy of repentance! To prepare the way of the Lord!

You have purpose, Dear Reader. I bless you with your spirit being stirred by your Maker and His Word for such times as these. I bless You with agreeing with Him and depending on Him in new ways and on new adventures.

Bless you, Reader, in the special way God crafted you, to prepare the way for His second coming. May you walk in all the fullness of Him and at the end of looong obedience, I pray He knock your socks, sandals, boots, or heels off with Himself in unexpected ways.

King of endless worth
No one could express
How much you deserve
Though I’m weak and poor
All I have is yours
Every single breath