Spring Has Come and Around the Farm

Finally, spring has come! I always love spring on the farm. It is this time of year the flowers burst into bloom. It is now, after months of rain, the sun comes to beckon us outside. All around baby animals are being born. And looking out the windows, the baby calves and goats are lying out in the sunshine, soaking in every bit of the beautiful sunshine. Spring must be my favorite season of all. Surprisingly, we had a quarter inch of snow/slush this morning. I had a wonderful chance to get some photos this week, and I finally got photos of our new baby bucklings. See this post for a little more about them.

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Henry and his mother, Henrietta
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Tate
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Henry and Brownie with our older doeling, Mirabelle on the far right.
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Tate and Henry, Twins
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Henry, Tate, Blackie, and Brownie; all playing together.

‘Tis the season for farm work! On Friday we had our 8th baby goat of the season. Baby calves are being born all over the place, so I can only guess how many we have in the field right now. On Wednesday we had our fall calving round-up, which was almost 30 cows to run through the corral. We had to pregnancy test the mamma cows, tattoo any un-tattooed females, give all of them about three shots, and do some other stuff. I’ve done round-ups where we had more cows to run through, but I have never done a round-up with so much to do on each cow, for the number of cows. I think I can say it took us around 4 hours with about 3 people.

Also we have a wonderful amount of garden starts growing right now. We have broccoli and romaine starts that are about 5 inches tall already. There are also carrots, beets, basil, celery, and pea starts, all doing well. On top of that we more recently planted tomato and onion seeds, which are just starting to come up.

I hope this morning’s snow is the last snow of the season, so that we will be able to transplant some of the starts. I’m looking forward to lush green pasture  or “May flowers” as the result of the upcoming “April showers”.

 

What do you look forward to, at spring? The sunshine? Maybe simply the lessening of the endless rain? I know I look forward to a lot of things. Spring is the season of new life. It is the time when, after the dead stalks and sprouts of winter have rotted away, and the new sprouts up. Fall always melts into Winter, but Spring is different. Spring leaps out of Winter as an altogether new season and time. Spring is the season when the seed that was sowed brings forth the beginnings and the promise of fruit. Spring calls forth hope and joy. The harvest and ripening are yet in the distance, but Spring brings the promise to life. But the new life must face storms soon. The sunshine will not last forever. Yet, if it endures, it will be even stronger, and will be better for facing a storm or two. However, many seeds will fall by the wayside, grow up among thorns, or wither away in the heat, and will never make it to their fullness. Jesus uses this example in the parable of the sower:

“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold.”

(Luke 8:5-8)

Later the disciples ask what his parable meant and he said:

Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.”

(Luke 8:11-15)

We cannot be like those on the rock, who though we sprout up with joy, simply wither away when we are tested, not having our root in Jesus Christ. Christ must be our vine and we must abide in him. Have a wonderful spring in Christ!

 

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
-John 15:4 (ESV)
All Scripture quotes are from the ESV translation.
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Unlimited vs. Limited Atonement: Which is taught in the Bible?

When Jesus died on the cross was the atonement he gave limited or unlimited? What does the Bible teach? What different views are there? I’m hoping to answer these questions in this post, or at least point readers in the right direction.

You could say that I believe in neither Unlimited Atonement nor Limited Atonement, or you could say I believe in both, depending. If you think that Unlimited Atonement means you believe that everyone will go to heaven and that Limited Atonement means Jesus only died for the “elect” (that is -according to Calvinists- those who are predestined to be saved), I would say I believe in neither. If you simply believe that Unlimited Atonement means Jesus died for all and that Limited Atonement means that not everyone will choose to follow Christ, I would say I believe in both.

You see, the bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:15: “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” It says that he (Christ) died for all. Notice it say “…that those who live might no longer live for themselves..”. It does not say that all “…those who live will no longer live for themselves”. Based on Revelation 20 and many other passages in scripture, I find that Universalism (the belief that all will go to heaven) is not an option. Many argue or ask: “If not everyone goes to heaven, then isn’t it a waste for Jesus to die on the cross?” or “If Jesus didn’t save everyone, then how could he love everyone?”. Calvinists will say that the blood Jesus shed on the cross was not ‘wasted’. They argue that before time began God pre-selected those  whom Jesus would die to save. Unfortunately, that doesn’t solve the “How then could he love everyone?”.

One big problem with both the Unlimited and Limited Atonement mentalities, is that in reality, both rely on a ‘limit’ on God’s part. To me, Limited Atonement pictures that because it was known to God the hearts of every man, and every sin that they did, do, and will do; that when Jesus died, he died for that particular amount of people that were predestined to follow him, and for that specific size and quantity of sins they had and were going to commit. Often Unlimited Atonement can be viewed this way too, though not as often. They could say that since God knew exactly how many people would live on this earth, and exactly how much and many sins would be committed, and died for all of it, exactly the right amount. Why would they think like this? Because they don’t want to think Go ‘wasted’ anything.

But God doesn’t work like that. His love, his grace, and the atonement and salvation he offers is limitless. God did not predestine you to sin a certain amount and save from that certain amount of sin. He saves from every sin you will and ever could commit. His grace is a fountain, never-ending. He cries out to you:

Come, everyone who thirsts,
    come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without price.

(Isaiah 55:1)

He loves all, and died for all, and would that all would come to him for salvation. He goes on:

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
    and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
    and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
    hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
    my steadfast, sure love for David.”

(Isaiah 55:2-3)

If the Calvinistic doctrine of Limited Atonement were true, why should we ‘come’ to him? Has he not, according to Limited Atonement, predestined us to be saved? Nay, he cries out to our hearts that we would “Incline [our] ear, and come to [him]“ of our own free will. He continues:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

If you “seek the Lord” he will “have compassion”  and “he will abundantly pardon”. Does not Christ say in the famous memory verse, John 3:16, that “Whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Christ gave his life on the cross to save us all, yet he loved us so much that he gave us free will to chose him or not. If we refuse to follow him he will ‘give us over’ and let us have our own way.

One of the greatest pictures of how Christ satisfies and atones those who follow him is actually in the ‘Feeding of the Five Thousand’ as it is called.

And taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing over them. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd. And they all ate and were satisfied. And what was left over was picked up, twelve baskets of broken pieces.”

(Luke 9:16-17)

Some could ask: “Why was Jesus so wasteful? Couldn’t he have made just enough for all the crowd, without having twelve whole baskets of broken pieces left over?” To me, this pictures how Christ’s grace covers our sin ‘running up and overflowing’. It wasn’t enough for David to write in Psalm 23 “you anoint my head with oil; my cup is filled. Instead, he says “you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. This is a such a beautiful picture!

I love this verse:

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

(Ephesians 3:17-19)

Thank you for reading this blog post! I hope it was helpful. A really good website on this website is Soteriology 101. You can also read ‘Free Grace’ by John Wesley (find it here also).

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting!
Amen and Amen.”

-Psalm 41:13
*All bible quotes are from the ESV translation.

 

Staying Focused and Baby Goats

The snow from my last post never actually melted. Instead, it refroze and we got more snow adding up to almost a foot of snow. But that is past and I doubt any more snow will come this year.

Exciting news is that our first kids (baby goats) are here! We now have four bucklings. Two of them are out of our doe Henrietta, and two out another one of our does, Strawberry girl. All four are out of Dublin, the buck. They are really cute!

Here is a picture of one of our previous baby goats, since I do not have pictures of the new kids.

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I have a great deal of trouble staying focused. I struggle with staying on top of my schoolwork. Getting on top of my schoolwork is no problem, but staying there is the hardest part. I’d like to share a couple of ways I help myself stay focused.

One big part of helping myself focus is planning. Really it is motivation; and for me, planning is part of motivation. It motivates me to get my schoolwork done if I schedule my school day. For some reason, I cannot get my school done if I don’t have a schedule or plan. Also simply the planning part gets me motivated. While planning I get excited and thus motivated to go on and when school starts I am able to work at it with a will. Another part is that I have to plan it myself or the plan does not motivate me. If it is a case where I need to be following somebody else’s plan I have to make the plan/schedule mine.

Another thing is just working to break through in your focus. Part of focusing is just hard work. For instance when I was younger, I would sit at my desk with a math book in front me and I was said to be doing math. Math was hard for me and the curriculum hard for me to concentrate on. However, instead of working at it until I completed the math page for that day, I would usually just imagine stories in my head or think about what I was doing tomorrow. My math was probably harder for me than for my sister, but once I saw that it was hard I gave up and thus failed to finish my page of math. Once we break through and conquer even with great painstaking efforts, we will improve next time instead of worsening or putting off the battle of concentration.

Sometimes even though I’m working hard and trying to be motivated, my brain feels cluttered and it feels like no matter what I do I cannot pull my thoughts and concentration together. Here are some things that can help in this situation:

  • Music: For some people, it works; for other people, it makes it worse. However, I often find that when all else fails, some calm, relaxing classical music or hymns, clear my brain.
  • Cluttered surroundings, cluttered brain: Often a cluttered brain is the result of cluttered surroundings. If this is the case, the most efficient thing to do is to get up and clean.
  • Switch Subjects/Tasks: Sometimes your brain just needs something else for a little while and needs you to change your subject/task and come back later.
  • Take a Break with God: My favorite thing to do when my brain is cluttered and frustrated and I need a break is to go outside. A room alone works as well, but I love going outside because it is usually a change in environment and you are so close to God’s creation. Then for 5-10 minutes I just pray and worship God alone. After the refreshment of God’s presence and love, I am much more fit to go about my work than before.

When all is said and done, we must remember that we are not perfect on this side of heaven, and we just ask God to use us as we are.

I hope this post was encouraging and/or helpful to any readers. I want to encourage you that God love and uses even the unfocused, clutter-brained, and clumsy, just as much as all his beloved children.

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
    May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!”

-Psalms 20:1 (ESV)