Monday, November 24, 2014

Livestock Guardian Dogs

As more people have headed toward country living and more regulations are in place regarding firearms and predator protection laws, shooting varmints is not always practical.  Word at the local cafe is: there have been wolves and bears micro-chipped and released into the area.  The reasons given for this range everywhere from, "no, that's not true" to "restoring original wildlife population and species."  Since I don't know the real answer, and truly just desire to protect my herd and place, guardian dogs have been a wonderful solution to the problem of predators.  Whether or not there are micro-chipped bears and wolves, there are, in fact, coyotes, foxes, and wild dogs that will feast on chicken dinner and even young kid when available.  Guardian dogs definitely keep potential predators at bay.
Hank as a young pup
This past week, I witnessed something I'd never seen before.  I had no idea how truly protective of the place Hank is, until this past Friday.  Livestock guardian dog breeds are primarily Great Pyrenees and Anatolian Shepherds in this area, and the Land of Goshen is blessed with both a male and a female of the same percentages.  Hank and Babe are both 3/4 Great Pyrenees and 1/4 Anatolian Shepherd and so far . . . have maintained their platonic relationship.  I was hoping for puppies by now, but for whatever reason, none have arrived.  It could be, Hank is just too busy guarding this place.

Guardian dogs are not the same temperament as guard dogs.  Hank and Babe are both very calm and laid back when it comes to people, right down friendly, in fact.  The UPS man actually told me Hank talks with him.  Hank is quite the communicator, yet I digress.   A Brief Chat with Hank

Hank apparently views large diesel trucks in the same way he sees predators.  To see a guardian dog square off with a predator is really quite a site.  It's obvious that dog will fight unto death!  His haunches are set, his front legs spread slightly and firmly locked with his shoulders squared.  It's amazing what Abba has just put in those dogs.  No training is required, they simply know by instinct and their parent's training how to protect without being aggressive, unless . . . So far, the coyotes and foxes have not pushed Hank to the showdown, they retreat.  Hank has even caused hawks to retreat.  As to the rumors of bears and wild boars in the area . . . no sign of any on this place.

When it comes to great big diesel trucks, it's a different matter.  Obviously, due to the location of the homestead, traffic is not a regular occurrence.  I've had a couple of construction projects going which have required two different big trucks on the place recently.  I had to literally, go out and tell Hank, I had invited them and it was okay for them to be here.  He looked at me, offered a bit of an argument, then at least moved out of the path.  It was an amazing to see that huge diesel truck with a boom rig stopped in the lane because Hank was standing in his protective stance squarely head on, toward that truck.

By the time I convinced Hank to let the truck come on in, he looked at me like I was crazy, and continued make the rounds, guarding every other pasture gate.  Once the truck came to a stop where the work was to be done, Hank circled the truck while the driver, still in the cab, asked if he'd bite.  My response was, "he never has, but he does not like your truck."  The gentleman stepped on out and reached out to shake my hand.  Hank looked at him, looked at me, and walked off.  These dogs truly read the circumstances in a way that cannot be explained, but definitely appreciated.

As life continues to unfold on this preservation, I continue to be amazed at the details of creation!

And Elohim made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and Elohim saw that it was good.  Genesis 1:25   

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Peace in Paradise

Sometimes I wonder what life in paradise will be like without conflict.  As believers, we seem to be easily drawn into discussions that become debates, then division, moving on to doctrines, and ultimately denominations.  If paradise consists of no more than the absence of conflict, that alone would be heavenly and quite foreign to humanity.  As I sit here imagining shalom, I think of everyplace it is missing.  Just how many concepts are defined by their absence?  Who can define normal?  Yet everyone has their view of what is abnormal!  I think peace is the same thing.  It seems many describe peace based upon the external atmosphere, rather than emanating from within.

To many, peace is associated with nature.  A walk in the woods means peace to some, and for others peace is envisioned at the water's edge.  Nature is not exactly synonymous with peace, but nature is the work of our Creator, and true peace also comes from our Creator.

The past couple of years have shown me that making peace, keeping the peace, and being at peace are very different.  I first began this discovery a couple of years ago when I had to make peace with the fact some folks don't want peace.  That was such an eye-opener!  There really are people who would rather argue and even tear down relationships than to enjoy others.  Some people truly do enjoy high tension and conflict.  They will literally invade an atmosphere of calm, with upheaval.  It's almost as if they carry a bag of chaos like a suitcase.  They carry it with them fully packed and ready to open, at all times!  Ah, the memories . . . I'm so sorry I didn't learn this truth sooner.  The reality is, it's actually in their heart.  

I like peace, I'm willing to go to great lengths to enjoy peace.  I used to try to make peace, but that doesn't work.  I've dug my heels in trying to keep peace, but ultimately that's a showdown with those who prefer chaos and tension, so I sought Abba on the matter.  He gave me peace in knowing I don't have to make peace with everyone, His favor will cause even my enemies to be at peace with me.  I don't have to keep the peace, for He has said the battle is not mine.  He has called me to be at peace in Him.  His peace is shalom.  Shalom is not defined the way we define peace, politically.  Not at all.  Shalom is a calm when all around is chaos and shalom is acceptance when those we love choose chaos.

A friend shared this from Passion for Truth ministries

God's people are called to make peace (Matthew 5:9). Interestingly, our English word 'peace' is translated from the Hebrew, 'Shalom,' which is spelled: Shin (ש), Lamed (ל), Vav (ו), Mem (ם). If you take the meanings of the individual letters in 'Shalom' and put them together, you have "destroy (Shin) the authority (Lamed) that brings (Vav) chaos (Mem)." The letters of the word 'Shalom' tell us that in order to have true peace, the authority that brings chaos must be destroyed! Furthermore, Satan is truly THE authority that brings chaos. How then do we destroy his authority and make peace? According to James, we destroy his authority by responding to chaos with Godly wisdom (James 3:13-18). We must not add to the chaos by engaging in fighting and quarreling (James 4:1-6); rather, we resist the devil so that he must flee (James 4:7). Let your pride die. Be a peacemaker. Destroy the authority that brings chaos to your life.

This definition has confirmed a great deal of what I've come to understand in the last few years.  Attempting to make peace in some relationships was truly pride on my part.  Attempting to make peace in destructive relationships is not the same thing as being a peacemaker.  Being a peacemaker is not a call to compromise.  We do have to see reality.  

So, how will the body fare through eternity with nothing to debate?  Confusion and chaos will not be present in paradise.  Once those two are completely gone, the body will be amazed at how much we have in common.  
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of YHWH.  Matthew 5:9

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Direction or Distraction

The difference between The Direction or a Distraction can be subtle.  The difference can sometimes be described as discerning between G-d leading and just a good idea.  So often in our Covenant walk of following Messiah, we are faced with a fork in the road, not between good and evil, but rather between a good idea and G-d's perfect will.  I came to one of those forks this week.  The gentleman who presented the opportunity was not trying to tempt me, but rather extended an invitation for ministry.

I had to stop and give serious consideration to this wonderful offer, because to be honest, I've been waiting a long time for the project I'm working on, to fully come to fruition.  Just last week, I shared thoughts about struggling against "throwing in the towel,"  having waited long enough, to entertain a few doubts along the way.  Those are not doubts in our Heavenly Father, but rather in my hearing and execution of the plan.  There have been enough "almost connections" that have ended badly that I have questioned myself, my hearing, and my stand.   I've lost a number of relationships through the years over the uncompromising stand I've been called to take.  It seems so many folks in this country seem to envision themselves as offended victims or persecuted servants, and sometimes I just get weary of that.  I want to make sure, though; that I'm not being stiffnecked, while telling  myself I'm being steadfast.

This year, through the High Holy Days, I took serious inventory and asked myself some questions.  We have to be careful when we do that, as we don't become so self focused we miss Abba's perspective.  So, I asked Him to show me if I've taken a detour or become distracted.  Basically, although still not perfect, I'm where I am supposed to be at this time.  That means, even if I can't see the next step, I'm to stand where I am and continue looking up.  He showed me how some things just weren't meant to be, regardless of how good of an idea they seemed at the time.  As I listened to my Shepherd's voice, I knew the answer was still stand and wait.  So, here it is three weeks following Sukkot and a week after writing about the temptation to throw in the towel, when the invitation arrives.

For a full twenty-four hours I tried to tell myself, this invitation is what I was waiting for, but I wasn't very convincing.  The gentleman had made a very good point, in that he needed someone to come and share that the Commandments were not done away with, that Sabbath was still important for believers in Messiah.  I tried praying about it, but Heaven's silence was deafening.  So, I spent another day repenting for wanting my will over Abba's.  It has been a long time since I tried to persuade Abba to come over to my way of thinking.  That 24 hours of silence was frightening.  It was in the day of repentance Abba reminded me that if I'd gone out of His will and participated in ministry of my own flesh, I would have not only compromised my service, but the ministry that had invited me, as well.  He also informed me that self-serving ministry method is rampant in the country and we've taken it around the world!

On the third day, I wrote my response, asking Abba to please give me the words that would not come across as rejection.  It wasn't easy to decline such a gracious and exciting offer, but it was the right thing to do, and the peace that flooded my spirit certainly washed away the difficulty.  The response was exciting.  We are already working on ways to work together half way around the world!  If I'd fed the doubts or gone on in my own fleshly desire to travel, I'd have missed out on the blessing "with Adonai, all things are possible."   The homestead will be "manned" and via internet and mail, the message can be shared.  Most importantly, two ministries have formed a fellowship and are praying in agreement on opposite sides of this globe!  The distraction was not the invitation, at all, but rather the doubts of the "almost connections" that simply were not part of Abba's plan.  There was no need to doubt the direction at all!

But now is made manifest, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting Elohim, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:   Romans 16:26

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Prepared . . . Unprepared

Early Thursday morning I received a message from our very own weather man, Gerry Davis.  He said a freeze was forecasted for the Ozarks on Sabbath.  Immediately, last week's article came to mind about the 72 hour warning.  I didn't have quite that much time, but two days was still a blessing.  I was so thankful for the warning, so very thankful.  The temperature had hit 80° earlier in the week.  Here I've been writing article after article about winter coming, signs of heavy snow, preparation, yet in my own life I was letting some details slip by unnoticed.

The wind had really kicked up Wednesday afternoon, and there was a definite chill in the air through evening chores.  Although garden production had all but ceased, it was still lush and green, with a few cucumbers, peppers, and good sized green tomatoes.  I knew the day was coming soon that would officially end this garden season with a frost, but it was still just at the "knowledge stage."  The windows, after all, were still open throughout the house!  The note from Gerry told me, the time was at hand.  Knowledge would not save my plants or bring in the last of the harvest.  It was time to implement an actual plan of action!

The passage in Proverbs that mentions a "little folding of the hands . . ." came to mind, but I haven't been idle at all.  Everything else was winter ready and with the plants, I was literally just choosing to wait until the last minute.  Now, on one hand I had a good reason, as every day the produce remained on the plant, it further matured, and I knew there was a day coming in late October or early November, when all the plants in pots on the deck and in the orchard should be brought in.  Dragging those big pots in without making a mess on the hall carpet does take a bit of planning.  It can't be done the day after it rains and must be immediately followed by vacuuming.

These plants from the deck that are now sitting in front of the picture window of the guest room really brought home the way we are preparing as we speak of calamity.  I know winter comes every year, I know a freeze, one night will wipe out the entire garden and could indeed kill my potted plants, yet I wait as long as possible to make the winter provision.  I'd cracked the persimmon seeds, the hay is all in place, the winter supply is on the homestead, and some of the firewood is cut; so when it came down to the last minute, all I needed to do was move the plants.  What I had overlooked, however; was watching the immediate signs to recognize the day before the last minute.

Fortunately, Gerry took the time to get the message to me, and that day, I heeded the warning and practically applied my knowledge, in short order!"   So many of us seem to be in that place spiritually, as we watch our societal structure continue to erode.  Many are sounding the warning, some are making preparation, but are any of us actually ready?  Are we ready to be a true beacon of light in a very dark world?  Are we basically ready, with just a couple of things to do at the last minute?  Have we truly acted on the knowledge we have?  As I look at the pepper plant loaded with jalapenos, the tomato vine that is encircling the guest room floor, and enjoy the fragrance of basil wafting up the hall, I am reminded of the Apostle Paul's words to Timothy, in yet another 21st century, agrarian parable.

 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;  I Timothy 6:18