Land of Uprightness

I am grateful for Your Spirit of all Truth whom you sent to guide us into all truth. (John 16:13) 

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Psalm 143:10 (King James Version) 

Me: Good evening Jesus! 

Jesus: Good evening Jon! 

Me: Tell me about the land of uprightness.  Is it a place? 

Jesus: If you abide in Me and give heed to the Spirit’s guidance, it is intended to be wherever you are. Did I not come to destroy the works of the devil? (1 John 3:8) Did I not tell you to do the works that I do? I Am supporting you in this with My power. (John 14:12) 

Me: I was telling a friend on Sunday, who is already doing some journalling, that although there is much one can and should do to make oneself more receptive, there is no closed-form formula for hearing from or following You. I told him that what we truly hear from You internally, will always be in concert with what is revealed in the Bible. It seems that having memory of scripture is a big part for me, that the Spirit calls passages to mind when I am seeking to hear from You.

Jesus: If I made it a formula, it would be static and men would see no need of relationship with Me. There would be no humility or bond of loving conversation. My ways are not your ways, nor are my thoughts your thoughts, except you  yield your mind to My Spirit. Have your heard the phrase “thinking God’s thoughts after Him”? It is paraphrased from words written by Johannes Kepler in humility of his research and the revelation in My word that man is made in My image. He believed man was  therefore capable of understanding the nature of My creation because I desire it to be understood and made it plainly visible. (Genesis 1:27, Romans 1:20) I am telling you that John 14:12 is calling you to do My works after Me.

Me: How can I live up to this charge? 

Jesus: If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you will bear much fruit, glorifying My Father, proving to be My disciple and friend. (John 15:7-8) Let My words abide in you; make their home in you, have their effect on you through obedience, fill the environment around you because they have crossed your lips from their place of abundance in your heart (Matthew 12:34). Neither let any faithless or unbelieving word take that same path. Speak love, and joy, truth and peace, hope, and trust in Me. Let not words of fear, or doubt, anger or ungratefulness dilute and pollute the power of faith. Remember the power of My word by which all creation came into being. Remember that if I had coerced man to respond to me by a formula, rather than making our relationship the way, he would not reflect My image (John 10:30). As for the land of uprightness, I Am leading you.

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You! 

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Harvest Today

Lord, I am grateful for a good potato harvest and the satisfaction of manual labor.

For the past couple of years, I have been raising some redskin potatoes in our garden. My approach has been to till in a fair amount of composted manure to prepare the plot. Potatoes are heavy feeders, so the manure really helps. I rake a shallow trench for a row in the newly tilled soil and place the seed potatoes, eye up. Then I rake the soil back over to just cover.

My approach is much easier than the common approach of placing them in a 6″-8″ deep trench; easier to plant and easier to harvest. The deep-trench method is designed to keep the potatoes covered as they grow. I followed the traditional approach three years ago and found it backbreaking work. When it came time to harvest, I damaged many trying to dig them up in the tight Iowa soil.

Potatoes exposed to the sun will turn green and be toxic. (Potatoes belong to the Nightshade family.) I avoid exposure of the tubers to the sun by deeply mulching them with clean straw or even grass clippings. When it comes time to harvest, they can be carefully exposed with a rake and digging will be minimal. The fork may still be necessary to free tubers that end up a little deeper (on their own). It is best to dig further away from the vine and pry up the soil to loosen.

I wash off any dirt that clings to the potatoes. This year, I filled the wheelbarrow with water and allowed them to soak for a couple of hours. Most didn’t require any extra cleaning.

After allowing them to dry in the driveway, I pack them in open tubs in layers of straw for storage in the basement.The straw prevents the potatoes from packing too closely together and improves storage. I usually have usable potatoes right up to planting time and can provide seed potatoes from last year’s harvest.

Freedom’s Source

I am grateful that my freedom comes from You.

If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Luke 11:13

Me: Good evening, Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good evening, Jon!

Me: We met with the Tea Party group today and talked about how readily people laid down their freedom to assemble together and to to pursue their pursuits. Really, to pursue Your pursuits.

Holy Spirit: There was a bit of imprecision in that gaze backwards.

Me: In what way, Holy Spirit?

Holy Spirit: You were told that by giving those things up temporarily you could help save the lives of the vulnerable. No one wanted to put others at undue risk. As good citizens, you complied with the instructions you were given (with great emphasis on how critical they were). I told you in the scriptures to obey those who rule over you. (Romans 13) In that same chapter, you find this verse:

Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:10

It is only as the situation with Covid-19 unfolded, that you realized that much of the information that was given at first was mere guesswork, followed by fearful speculation, followed by manipulation by those with agendas aimed at control which was itself aimed at grasping power. Power at terrible expense to many, I would add.

Me: Hardly any of us want to be responsible for the sickness or death of another. We hear of ones who have died. Most imagine them innocent victims of random illness. There is little recognition that we are all appointed to die on account of the wages of sin is death and therefore our own doing. The only question, really, is the precise time of death. The ones aiming at control certainly never mentioned the name of Jehovah Rapha, lest hope derail their plans.

Holy Spirit: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 6:23

If one knows Me, then he knows that not even death will separate from Me. It is My perfect love that cast out fear.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:37-39

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

1 John 4:18

Your freedoms are from Me. They are not granted by any government. You need not fear those who can only kill the body. (Matthew 10:28)

Me: I wouldn’t consider myself brave enough to face the power of the government the way Jesus did.

Holy Spirit: He was looking ahead to His death when He spoke the words of Matthew 10:28. You are not trapped by the empty naturalistic dogma that has enslaved many, for you believe what I say to you.

It is only the most evil who would use the love you hold for others as a weakness to be manipulated. He does this because he does not understand the very power of the love he would use to control is Me, and I will be his undoing. Blinded by his rage, your enemy does not even recognize he is attempting to lay hands on Me. Imagine his surprise when his scheme goes wrong.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Alert?

I am grateful for safe travels!

But keep on the alert at all times (seasons), praying that you may have strength (prevail) to escape (flee) all the things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:36

Me: Good evening Jesus!

Jesus: Good evening Jon!

Me: The verse does not seem to say to pray for strength, but rather that praying will result in strength (prevail). What do we need to prevail over?

Jesus: There are many things: fear, doubt, opposition, treachery, ignorance, bondage, encumbrances, deception, weakness, confusion, lies, all the works of evil.

Eph 6: Finally be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God… against the schemes of the devil… take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

All, All, All

I am grateful for the guidance You give us! I am grateful for Your love and example!

Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people. – Proverbs 14:34

Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. – Matthew 22:35-40

Me: Good afternoon, Jesus!

Jesus: Good afternoon, Jon!

Me: Why did you say, “And the second is like unto it”?

Jesus: Both have their basis in love. Both require an unequivocal attitude; all, all, all. “All your heart” will result in your desiring the most intimate relationship you can have. Not the most you can muster in yourself, but the most you can have in the power of My Spirit as you purpose to submit your heart to Him. “[A]ll your soul” involves your hands and feet and the practical outworking of what you can do. Again, with My empowerment (John 15:5). “[W]ith all your mind”, of course, is talking about what you think of Me (and your neighbor). Is is the truth? Do you see your neighbor as made in My image?

Me: Thank You Jesus! I love You!

Jesus: You are welcome! I love you!

Walk with Our Healer

I am grateful for health!

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. – Exodus 15:26 KJV

Me: Good morning Father!

Jehovah Rapha: Good morning Jon!

Me: This part of your nature, stated in Exodus 15, certainly seems little understood in our day.

Jehovah Rapha: Many have been inoculated with naturalism, now believing that-which-is came in to being by chance through eons of random processes. Plus, the prophets of fear are peddling hopelessness and fear over the very air that I made to sustain you.

I created you with a marvelous “immune” system make you able to withstand and fight invaders too small for you to see. It works without you having to think about it. But what you think – what you believe – certainly does affect its effectiveness. If you are filled with hope because of confidence (faith) in Me, it works best. If you are stressed because of fear and doubt and worry and negativity, it will be suppressed. The channel of fear into your life generally has an off switch. I recommend that you use it. If it comes person to person, consider that interaction an opportunity to counter fear with the truth. In so doing you will help the other one as well as yourself. What keeps coming out of your mouth is very important (Mark 11:23 KJV).

One of the points of fear that is coming out is that the virus making its rounds now is “novel” and you therefore do not have immunity. However, I made your immune system to learn and remember. Otherwise, vaccinations would be useless. Those who are already compromised in some way are said to be at greater risk. This should be common sense. They are already weakened by some issue and have not been walking fully in My promises, usually for a long time. The medical profession would call their condition “chronic”. Notice the root of the word is from khronos – time.

Me: None of us have been successful at walking in all that You have said, at least not on our own. We did not fulfill the requirements of Exodus 15:26.

Jehovah Rapha: I Am the One who knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Nothing surprises me. I Am Jehovah Jireh – your provider. As I provided the sacrifice for Abraham (Genesis 22:14), so I have provided My Son Jesus as sacrifice for your sin. He Himself has said that there is none righteous except God (Mark 10:18). As you are in Him, consistently walking in the Spirit that I have given to empower you, you become righteous in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21). He has fulfilled the requirements of Exodus 15:26 on your behalf, if you accept that He has and choose to abide in Him (John 15:4). Is this the hallmark of your life? I know that it is. Many, though, only call on me in times when they are already in trouble. Trouble in mind, trouble in body, or trouble in circumstance. It is harder to exit the mire than to avoid it. They want something from from Me when they call rather than to be in My presence. I desire fellowship with you. That is why I Am redeeming you and you are to walk in that promise. What do you think? If you draw near to Me, will evil like the surroundings?

Me: Thank You Father! How much better to run into the shelter you provide and avoid all kinds of trouble. How much better to enjoy health and peace and all of your mighty promises to those that truly love you! I do love You!

Jehovah Rapha: You are welcome! Thank you for spending this time with Me! I love you!

The Face of Abandonment

I was on the way home from town when my wife told me on the phone. I had that sinking feeling. “We’ve got a new cat.”, she said.

I don’t mind cats that much. But, they are a lot of work. Though we were down to four due to the oldest two passing. (Did I mention I’m the one who does cat-box duty?) The youngest is a calico who was “rescued” by my stepdaughter, who couldn’t keep it, of course. She found it as a kitten. It was crying in the park in the rain over one-hundred miles from where we live. Jill brought it straight to us. Where else? After the initial three-hundred dollar visit to the vet, I named her Pricey. What can I say? I am easily amused. Pricey is probably four years old now.

All the cats came that way, more or less. Neither my wife or I actually tried to get a cat. At least, I don’t think so.

Two days before that phone call, one of my wife’s friends called her with a litter of newborn kittens which the mother had abandoned. That happens sometimes. My wife has had some significant experience fostering and placing kittens. So, she agreed to take them. That is pretty much a full-time job at first. Everything else kind of comes to a stop. She is a little over a week and a half in now and they all have their eyes open.

That is the backdrop against which the news that, “We’ve got a new cat” came to me.

That is his picture that heads this post. Someone had apparently dumped him near our farmhouse. It must have been quite a while before he found my wife outside on the porch. My wife was waiting for Lady the permanently-fostered Pit Bull to finish her outside business. The cat came running when he saw her. He had been down near the road, which is about one-hundred yards from the house. There is a creek down there across the gravel road where a cat could get water to drink.

He was severely underweight. Clearly very friendly. Obviously didn’t know how to hunt for himself. His first trip to the vet was only a little over $100. Males are cheaper to neuter. Besides, “Pricey” was taken. It seems like he has eaten non-stop for the first week. He is starting to look better. And, as the picture shows, now he will now opt for a neck-scratch before diving into the cat food.

I named him “Covid”.

The name is part of the story I tell myself to lessen my tendency to condemn callous cat-dumpers. Here is how it goes:

Constrained to “shelter in place” and out of a restaurant job due to shutdown orders, the father struggled with the choice to feed the kids adequately for the next few days or buy another bag of food for the cat. He decides the cat could get lost near a farm in the country and the kid’s wouldn’t have to know how it disappeared. He didn’t like the choice, but he felt he had to make it.

That’s my story. No other hard choice would explain it, really. Surely not just convenience. I can’t make my mind be OK with that.

I don’t know how long Covid managed to evade the coyotes that often howl hereabouts at night. Long enough to begin to border on starvation. It was probably the ability to drink from the creek that saved him long enough to catch someone outside.

I suppose it remains to be seen how much trouble it will be when we try to introduce him into the rest of our little cat population. At least I am working and Covid will get to eat on a regular basis.

Mortal Fear Antidote

In times like these, or any other.

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24 King James Version

(The featured image taken outside Larry Pearson’s metal shop in Radcliffe IA.)

Law and Unfailing Love

I am grateful for Your grace.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1f

Me: Good evening, Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good evening, Jon!

Me: Holy Spirit, I kind of get the “law of sin and death”; that under the law no flesh is justified. But I am puzzled that this passage in Romans 8 talks of “the law of the Spirit and of Life in Christ Jesus”, as compared to “the law of sin and death”.

Holy Spirit: What puzzles you?

Me: I suppose I generally think of the law as prohibitive. Speed limits, prohibitions against theft, assault, murder, and mayhem. How does the law of the Spirit fit with that?

Holy Spirit: What about the law of physics, biology, chemistry? What do they do?

Me: They describe how something works. If we can observe that something always works the same way, given the conditions, we classify it as a law.

Holy Spirit: My Word never fails. It always works the same way. The laws spoken of in Romans 8 are spiritual laws. They are more sure than they laws of physics, biology, and chemistry, as understood by men.

Me: In that sense, then, “the law of sin and death” is not prohibitive, but instead describes how sin works?

Holy Spirit: You are made in the image of God; you have free will. I have simply told you how sin works (what it pays and the predictable outcome), as I have told you how life in Christ Jesus by My Spirit works.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!