Behold the Lamb!

Introduction:

This blog post is different from any I have ever posted. This is a study and I decided to share it with you. It is long but it is not a difficult read. Just before Easter I was preparing a Sunday School lesson which I never got to teach because of Covid-19. I became intrigued with John the Baptist’s profound proclamation, “Behold the Lamb” and Isaac’s heartfelt question, “Where is the lamb?” I decided to follow the theme of the lamb through scripture.

This became more than just a Sunday School lesson for me. I became intrigued with the intrinsic detail, planning and structure to the work of God in and through 8,000 years of history. It is not by chance. No human could have put together a puzzle with such interlocking details. I have really appreciated the writings of Jonathan Cahn and some of puzzle pieces came from his book, ” The Book of Mysteries.”

Messiah, the Lamb of God, is the center and foundation of my faith. Jesus is the only way to God. If you are struggling to believe, I pray that this will touch your heart. There are probably aspects of the sacrificial lamb that I have missed. Feel free to share them in the comments.

Behold the Lamb

John 1

One day when Jesus was around 30, he went out into the desert to find his cousin, John the Baptist, who was preaching. Jesus knew his time had come, the time for his ministry to begin and he wanted to be baptized. John was preaching repentance from sins and that one mightier than he was coming who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. The people were wondering and discussing whether John was the Messiah. John tried to put that narrative to rest. John didn’t feel worthy to baptize Jesus, He wanted Jesus to baptize him. John did baptize Jesus and while Jesus was praying the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and rested on Jesus while a voice said, “This is my beloved Son. I am well pleased with Him.”

It is interesting that Matthew, Mark and Luke all record the baptism of Jesus, but John records another part of the story that the others omit. (John 1:19-36)

The next day, John saw Jesus coming towards him as he was preaching and he said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”.

John knew he was not the long looked for Messiah nor did he pretend to be. He was a forerunner, a revealer, of the long-awaited Messiah.  John’s exclamation was a divine revelation and deeply symbolic of the mission and purpose of Jesus coming to earth. In verse 31, John admits he did not know Jesus but knew that the Messiah was coming very soon and would be revealed by the Spirit descending in the form of a dove. Jesus was indeed revealed by the Spirit in the form of a dove, and John introduced him to the world, as the Lamb of God.

Why is this significant and what does it mean? I discovered this is a theme that runs through the complete Bible, from beginning to end. It is the foundation of our faith and the only way to have forgiveness of sins. Meet the Messiah, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sins of me and you, and all who receive him as that sacrifice.  

Abraham and Isaac

(Genesis 22)

Two thousand years prior, Abraham woke his son Isaac early one morning to go on a three- day journey to a place that God would show him. God had revealed a message to Abraham-a message that was unimaginably difficult. God had said, “Take you son, your only son Isaac whom you love, and go to a place I will show you and offer him there as a burnt sacrifice”. Abraham heard and understood what God said. He knew Isaac was the long-awaited promised son. Did he lay awake all-night fretting and worrying? Probably, Abraham was human. He knew that sacrificing children was a heathen practice. Did it take a day, a week or a month to act? Somehow, I think he responded in obedience within hours. He was up early in the morning, loaded his donkey with firewood and provisions for the journey, awoke two of his young men and Isaac, and they hit the road.

On the third day, God showed him the mountains in the distance, the mountain range that was called the Land of Moriah. As they neared the mountain, Abraham asked the two young men to wait with the donkey. As father and son were walking in silence the last distance, Isaac, who was carrying a bundle of wood on his back said to his father who was carrying the pot of hot coals for a fire, “Father, where is the lamb”?  Isaac knew the routine. He knew when an alter was built, something had to die. Abraham simply and quietly responded, “My son, God will provide for himself the lamb for the burnt offering.”  You know the story. Abraham built the alter, place the wood and fire on the alter and tied up Isaac. Abraham knew, that he knew, that he knew, he had heard from God and did not question how God would solve the problem, he just knew he would. Hebrews 11:19 reveals that Abraham knowing and understanding the promises of God, believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead. Just as he raised his knife to plunge into the heart of his son, God called out from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham.”  God said, “Do not lay a hand on your son. Now I know you fear God, seeing that you were willing to not withhold even your son from me.”

This story is a foreshadow of Jesus, the only begotten beloved son of God, coming to earth to be that lamb, to become the sacrifice for my sin and your sin. Abraham did not know that, but we understand it looking back at history and through the continued revelation of scripture. From the beginning of time and through the Old Testament prophets, God revealed more and more of “the lamb” to us. Isaac’s question echoed through the years as faithful men and women watched and waited for the Messiah. “When will the Messiah come?” “Where is the Lamb?” 

Where is Lamb? Let’s follow the scarlet thread of redemption, the meaning of the sacrifice of the lamb through scripture and exclaim with John the Baptist, “Behold, the Lamb!”

Sacrifice and The Shedding of Blood

Genesis 3:20

After Adam and Eve sinned, they hid from God. They were suddenly acutely aware of their nakedness and were ashamed. God came looking and calling for them as they feared. God made tunics of skin and clothed them before he chased them out of the garden. The covenant love of God required that innocent animals be sacrificed to provide garments of skin to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. The first blood was shed to cover the first sin. The flimsy covering of fig leaves that Adam and Eve attempted to make were not adequate or sufficient. Man’s own works could not cover his sin. An animal had to die; its blood had to be shed to provide a covering for their sin. Was it a lamb? We do not know, but an animal was sacrificed.

Cain and Abel

Genesis 4.

One day the two sons of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, had a worship service out in the field. Abel was a keeper of sheep and Cain was a tiller of the soil. Each brought an offering or sacrifice to God. Abel’s was accepted but Cain’s was rejected.  Why? Because Cain had disobeyed God. God had already revealed to man the need for an animal sacrifice in the garden. Cain became so angry at God’s rejection of his sacrifice that he kills his brother. Blood sacrifice was essential for right standing with God. Cain’s self-righteous, deliberate disobedience separated him from the presence of God. Right standing before God, obedience, was shown to be a matter of life and death, not merely a matter of one’s good efforts. The theme of the lamb begins in this chapter and go all the way through scripture to the grand climax in Revelations.

Why is the blood of special value to God?  When God asked Cain where Abel was, Cain retorted, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” And God said, “The voice of Abel’s blood cries out to me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10).

In Leviticus 17: 11, God gives us the significance of the blood, saying; “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life”.

Genesis 8. When Noah left the ark after the flood, he offered a sacrifice of burnt offering from the “clean” animals that God had commanded he take into the ark for this purpose. Noah’s sacrifice was pleasing to God and God made a covenant with Noah-the first mention of a covenant- and it was established with blood.

The Institution of the OT Passover

(Exodus 12)

We know the story of Israel’s bondage (slavery) in Egypt and how after 400 years, God visited his people and sent Moses and Aaron to set them free. There were ten plaques, the last of which was the slaying of all the firstborn males of the Egyptians, man and animal. It was at this point that God instituted the sacrifice of lambs and the shedding of blood as a covering for sin. It also started a new calendar for the Israelites. It was Nisan, what we call March-April, and this would now be the new first day of their calendar year to signify a new beginning of Israel’s life as a people.

  • Exodus 12
    • On the tenth day every man shall take a lamb from their herd of sheep. A young Tamin lamb is chosen and taken for the household. Tamin means without spot, unblemished, undefiled, innocent, and perfect, a male of the first year.
    • Four days later, on the fourteenth day, they were to kill the lamb at twilight and the blood put on the two doorposts and the lintel of the house.
    • They were to eat the lamb in haste, all of it and not one of its bones was to be broken. (verse 46). They were to have their clothes on, shoes on their feet and a staff in their hand so that they were really to flee.
    • Only unleavened bread was to be eaten.
    • Blood will be a sign signifying where you live.  God said, “When I see the blood on the door post, I will pass over you.” (verse 13)
    • Obedience to the instructions of the Lord regarding the sacrificial blood of the Passover lamb brought deliverance from the wages of sin and death for those within the house (Exodus 12). The lamb died in their place that they might be saved.
    • Verse 26-27 “And it shall be, when your children ask, what does this mean that you should say, “it is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord.” It is to remember, to remember what God did for them and how the blood saved them.

The Lambs of Bethlehem

Jesus grew up in Nazareth but he was born in Bethlehem. Did you ever wonder or consider the significance of Bethlehem? 

“In the writings of ancient rabbis it is recorded that in the days of the second temple, the only place where one could shepherd a flock was in the wilderness. But there was one exception, the flocks or lambs that were specifically appointed and destined for the Temple sacrifices, the sacrificial lambs. They needed to kept in close proximity to the Holy City (Jerusalem).”  Bethlehem is undoubtedly the place were the temple lambs were raised.” (Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 125).

Sheep by nature are helpless, defenseless animals and need the constant watch of a shepherd. It was shepherds who attend to the birthing and care of lambs. The natural birthing season for lambs is in the spring and it was often still cold. Crudely made shelters and caves were used to help protect the sheep. When a lamb needed extra warmth or care, the shepherds would wrap the lambs in strips of cloth called swaddling cloths and lay them in the manger of hay for protection from the other sheep. Is this beginning to sound familiar?

Luke records the story of Jesus birth. Joseph and Mary needed to travel to Joseph’s ancestral home, Bethlehem, to register for the census. There was only one way to travel, by foot or donkey. It was a 90-mile grueling and dangerous trip south along the flatlands of the Jordan River, then west over the hills surrounding Jerusalem, and on into Bethlehem. For Mary who was nine months pregnant and heavy with child it must have been almost unbearable. No where in scripture does it say that Mary rode a donkey. We like to think she did, but in reality, she very possibly walked every step of the way.

God’s timing was perfect. Jesus would not be born until they reached Bethlehem. He had to be born where the sacrificial Tamin lambs were born. Joseph and Mary arrived to discover a city full of other travelers coming for the same purpose. There was no place to stay, all the inns and homes were full. A compassionate innkeeper allowed them to sleep in his stable. That night, in the stillness and quiet of a humble, smelly stable, the Lamb of God was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.

Who were the first visitors?  During the wee hours of the night, shepherds who were caring for their sheep in the fields outside of Bethlehem had a divine appointment with angels telling them of the birth of the Messiah and where to find him. Their clue; “You will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.” These were the shepherds appointed to care for the Tumin lambs of Bethlehem and they knew exactly where to look. They hurried to see the new born baby. Was this coincidental? I hardly think so.

The NT Passover: The Death and Crucifixion of Jesus

Jesus was heading to Jerusalem to celebrate the annual Passover celebration. On the 10th day of Nisan (our March-April) Jesus entered Jerusalem. We know it as the Triumphal Entry or Palm Sunday. On Friday he was crucified, buried, and on Sunday he rose from the dead.

Jesus, the Tamin lamb, enters the city-where the house of God was, and would be killed.

Jesus was the first born, a male, without spot or blemish. He knew no sin. He had to be unblemished so that the blemishes of our past could be removed. He had to be spotless so that the stains of our past could be undone. He had to be innocent and undefiled to take away all the defilements in our lives. And so it is from the Passover Lamb, Messiah, that we are given the power of Tamin, the miracle of Tamin, by which the guilty can become innocent again, the defiled can live an unblemished life, with an unblemished record, and an unblemished conscience and with unstained memories. The blood of the Passover Lamb must also be applied to the doorposts of my life.

Jesus would observe the Passover with his disciples on the fourteen day, a Thursday. He broke the bread with his disciples. This had deep meaning for Jesus. He was born in Bethlehem, known as the House of Bread.

Just as Isaac carried the wood for the sacrifice, so Jesus was forced to carry his cross for his sacrifice.

And to fulfill the requirements of the Passover Lamb, none of his bones would be broken.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

The is the first mention of the word “love” in scripture.

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 79, 85, 95, 227)

Day of Atonement

(Leviticus 16)

The Holiest day of the Jewish year was called the “Day of Atonement” or Yon Kippur when an incredibly unique ceremony took place.  Yon Kippur means “covering over”.

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would stand before the people with two goats before him. The priest would reach into an urn and pull out two lots. One was placed on the head of the goat on the right and the other on the head of the goat on the left. The one was chosen by lot to be the sin offering for the people and the other as a scapegoat.  The one chosen as a sin offering will be a burnt offering. The one chosen as a sin offering or scapegoat will be present alive before the Lord to make atonement and then let go into the wilderness.

What took place before Jesus’ sacrifice? Two men were presented before the High Priest. Jesus and Barabbas for the determining of two destinies. One would be chosen for the sacrifice and the other let go. Only one could be the sacrifice.

According to the requirements for the ancient sacrifice, the two goats had to be identical.

  • Messiah was the Son of God, the Son of the Father.
  • Barabbas comes from two Hebrew words; bar which means son and abba which means father. Barabbas means the son of the father.

Here we have two men, each bearing the name “The Son of the Father”. The one sacrificed and the one set free must in some way be identical. If God were to die in my place, he had to become like me, flesh and blood, in the likeness of man. He would be my identical and take my place.

The lot was cast. The people shouted set Barabbas free. Jesus was the one sentenced to judgement so that I could be set free.

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 29.)

Jesus Became Sin

II Corinthians 5:21

“For God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin, to be sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Jesus)”

The Scriptures concerning the sin offering were written in Hebrew. In Hebrew, sin offering is called the Khataah. The Messiah became the Khataah. Khataah has a double meaning.  On one hand it means the sin offering or sacrifice, and on the other hand, it means the sin. The sacrifice and sin both bear the same name, Khataah. Since the sacrifice is the very thing that takes away sin, Jesus had to become sin itself, even though he never sinned. In Hebrew that is basically saying …”every one of your sins bears the name of the sacrifice, Every one of your sins is written (covered) with His Name, His blood. They all belong to Him. We no longer possess them. To keep them is keeping stolen property, an act of theft as they were given to Him.”

 We need to let go of our sin and live in the righteousness of God.

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 233.)

The Suffering Savior Led as a Lamb to Slaughter

(Isaiah 52:13-53:12)

The Suffering Savior was led as a lamb lead to slaughter. Jesus understood his mission and work as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.

The ProphecyThe Fulfillment
52:13 He will be exaltedPhilippians 2:9
52:14 & 53:2  His visage was marred more than any other manMark 15: 17, 19
52:15 He will make a blood atonementI Peter 1:2
53:3 Widely rejected and despisedJohn 12: 37-38
53:4-5 Will bear our sins and sorrowsRomans 4:25; I Peter 2:24-25
53: 6,8 Will be our substituteII Corinthians 5: 21
53:7-8 Will voluntarily accept our guilt and punishmentJohn 10: 11, 19:30
53:9 Buried in a rich man’s tombJohn 19: 38-42
53:10-11 Will save those who believe in HimJohn 3:16. Acts 16:31
53:12 Will die on behalf of transgressorsMark 15:27-28 & Luke 22:37

What scripture was the eunuch from Ethiopia reading when Philip was led to his chariot?  Isaiah 53. Philip explained the verses, and the eunuch understood and was convicted. He asked for baptism. Philip said, “you may if you believe with all your heart.” The eunuch answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Acts 8:26-40

The Second Coming

Matthew, Mark, and John refer to the site of crucifixion as Golgotha and Luke calls it Calvary. There is some difference of opinion as to the location of the exact spot but most scholars believe that Golgotha was actually on the Mount of Olives in the area known as the Upper Land of Moriah, which was just east of the city of Jerusalem. Remember where Abraham went with Isaac. Could it have been the same spot? The Garden of Gethsemane is at the foot of the Mt. of Olives.

The prophet Zechariah adds another interesting tidbit to the narrative:

“Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east” (Zechariah 14:3-4)

The Mount of Olives was also the location from which Jesus ascended to heaven after being resurrected from the grave and appearing to His disciples (Acts 1:9-12). Jesus will return to the same location from which He previously left the earth and where he offered His life as the ultimate sacrifice.

The Revelation Lamb

A number of years after Jesus returned to heaven, severe persecution attacked the believers. Many were killed and even some of the disciples. John, the beloved disciple, was exiled to the island of Patmos for his unrelenting faith and open witness of Jesus.  God revealed to him in a vision what is going to happen at the end of time and in heaven and told him to write it down so that it could be given to the churches.

Someday Jesus, the sacrificial lamb, will be revealed to all whose sins have been covered by his blood. We will see and know and understand the full impact of the sacrifice he made, in love.

 Rev. 5:6:  “And I looked and behold in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders stood a Lamb as though it had been slain…” and verse 12 is a scene beyond our comprehension. “And I looked and heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousand of thousands (literally gazillions) on their faces saying “worthy is the Lamb who was slain….”

What a scene!  In this scene the lamb, the most defenseless of all creatures, so weak it must be protected by shepherds is on the throne. The lamb is king and reigns over all. The Lamb, the symbol of the Messiah.

  • Revelations 5:9
  • Revelations 6: 15-17
  • Revelations 7: 9-17
  • Revelations 17:14
  • Revelations 21:7-9, 22-27

Forgiveness of Sin

Hebrews 9:22 “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”

At the time of God’s choosing, Jesus, who was without spot or blemish (1 Peter 1:19), became the perfect Passover lamb sacrifice; meeting all the requirements set forth by God for a Passover lamb to fulfill the blood sacrifice requirement for the remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). His blood sacrifice was made so that when we believe and obey; accept the substitute shedding of blood for our sins, we will be saved from the wages of sin and death. God made a way for mankind to enjoy Him forever, establishing a new covenant with man for the remission of sin, by giving us His son (Luke 22:19-20), the perfect Passover lamb sacrifice.

I Peter 1:18-20 “We are not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

The entire purpose of Jesus life, from the moment of his birth to his death was to give Himself, to give His life as a sacrifice. What a gift of love!

These facts were revealed, not hidden, to John the Baptist. When he said, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world” it was loaded with significant and meaning.  John knew Jesus was “the Lamb of God.”

John was born into a priestly family.  The priest were the ones who ministered in the temple and were in charge of the offerings and presenting the sacrifices. A priest had to be thirty years old to perform the duties of a priest. If you remember, John was born about six months before Jesus. (Luke 1) making him eligible to perform priestly duties. John the Baptist, a pure-blooded priest of the lineage of Aaron presented and identified Jesus as the Lamb of God, the Messiah, the acceptable final sacrifice to Israel. God made sure to have a priest of Aaron certify the Lamb according to the Old Testament requirements to fulfill the New Testament covenant. That means your sins are completely and certifiable taken away forever by the Lamb who came with priestly certification. There would now be no more lamb sacrifices to take away sin. It is done, once and forever for all who repent and let the blood of Jesus take away their sin. In the Old Testament the blood covered everyone. In the New Testament it is by choice. Your choice. What will you choose?

(Resource: “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Day 66, 130.)

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God took what was not his-our sins

so that we could have what was not ours-love.

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Resources:

  • The Bible (Word of God)
  • “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn, Days 16, 29, 37, 61, 66, 79,85, 95, 125, 130, 223, 227, and 233.
  • Picture came from pixabay.com a website for free pictures.

By Pat Hertzler, September 12, 2020

Apple Pie Filling to Can

This recipe came from “Mennonite Country Style Recipes” cookbook by Esther Shank, my aunt. It is on page 615 and was submitted by Barbara Bowman. Jill has been using this recipe and really likes it.

Print Recipe
Apple Pie Filling to Can
Use any good cooking apple for canning. Bowman likes the Stayman or Grimes Golden. We like the Ginger Gold.
Servings
Quarts
Ingredients
Sauce: Combine in large saucepan. Cooked until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Add:
Apples
Servings
Quarts
Ingredients
Sauce: Combine in large saucepan. Cooked until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Add:
Apples
Instructions
  1. Fill jars with raw apples, adding layers of syrup as you fill, otherwise there will be too many air pockets. Leave 1 inch headspace. If jars are too full, syrup will spew out during processing! Tighten lids and process.
  2. The recipes says hot water bath the jars for 25 mins. We pressure canned at 5# pressure for 8 mins.

When We All Work Together

Jill and the grandkids came on Saturday with 3 bushels of Ginger Gold apples in tow. We were planning to make applesauce and apple pie filling that afternoon and I was a little concerned that it was going to be a late night. Was I ever wrong!

The grandkids (Jill’s two and the two oldest of Keith) are basically adults now and everyone of them knows how to work. We jumped right in on a major canning project and in less than two hours had completed the process and had an apple blast!

I was reminded of the song we sang as kids, “When we all work together, together, together, when we all work together how happy we’ll be.”

Pictures of our afternoon.

Karla washing the apples.
Emily and I cut the apples into quarters and removed the blossom end.
Lauren ran the apple peeler.

I had never used an apple peeler. I had one upstairs that I had gotten several years ago to give as a gift and never gave it. Jill forgot hers so I decided now was the time to claim this as mine. I was totally impressed. That thing peeled, cored and sliced the apples so neat. I had no idea what a gem I had tucked away and was not being used. The kids had a lot of fun with it.

There is more than one way to eat a peel!
The neatest little rings that you ever did see! I would cut the sliced apple into quarters and they slide into the jar so neatly. We won’t tell you how many Ryan ate! But, he is a growing boy!!!!
I stuffed the jars with apples for the pie filling.
Jill kept two kettles cooking for the applesauce.
Jill made the sauce to pour over the apples and processed them.
Ryan was the Victoria Strainer cranker! I never in all my canning had one of these and now I want one!
Karla filled the freezer containers with the finished product.
Lauren somehow ended up on the floor after missing her mouth eating an apple. I never did understand what totally happened or how she missed her mouth but it sure was funny!
We laughed and chatted and had a good time as we worked together.

“When your work is my work and our work is God’s work, when we all work together how happy we’ll be.”

Good memories!

Link: Recipe for Apple Pie Filling to Can

Rain and More Rain-August 2020

The inches are adding up. After a hot, humid, July (we did get 2.2 inch of rain in July which is unusual) it is raining and raining and raining some more, and calling for more days of rain. As I write this we have had 12.2 inches of rain in August with 6.2″ of those in the last twenty-four hours.

This afternoon I braved the rain and went to Food Lion. Coming home on our road, there was a fair-size tree laying 3/4 the way across the road. Facebook is “flooded” with pictures and reports of flooded roads and downed trees in our area. Our driveway is one large water puddle!

During the night it apparently rained really hard. The picture below shows some gravel from our driveway in the middle of the road heading almost all the way down to Route 60.

It is a dreary, quiet, peaceful afternoon with nothing to do except for what I want to do-in the house. I was planning to process my second patch of sweet corn this afternoon, pick tomatoes and okra and finish mowing the lawn. Instead I have read the mail, checked email and facebook a dozen times, and pitter-pattered around the house, restless. Church is cancelled for tomorrow so it will be another long day. I don’t have any new puzzles to put together and I can’t convince Gene to play a board game.

The conversation went like this…

Me: Let’s play a game of Settlers.

Him: It’s almost supper time.

Me: It would be fun.

HIm: Supper?

After supper I announced I had fun eating supper and that the Blackberry Crunch in the oven was for those who played a game. I have a feeling he will still get his share of crunch, without the game! Where are my grandkids when I need them. Guess I’ll have to get motivated and make a batch of truffles.

One sad thing for us is the new creek-crossing and bridge we put in late February for cattle crossing and stream exclusion has been badly damaged-twice this month. I’ll show you some before and after pictures.

February 2020
You can see how far up the hill the water was. That steam is normally a trickle.
The bridge, early November 2018
The support posts on the sides of the bridge held.

Gaggles of Canadian geese have been feeding in the fields the past few days and the cows are grazing. The rain is not bothering them one bit.

Neither has it fazed Mr. Squirrel who has been savaging the seeds from the ground under the bird feeder.

At least we have not had wind or fire as some areas of our country are experiencing. Our damage is very minimal, the water table is being replenished and there should be a good hay crop this fall.

We are blessed.

Homegrown Tomatoes

One of the highlights of my garden season is picking fresh, homegrown, tomatoes. Nothing quite beats a flavorful, juicy, garden fresh, red, Better Boy tomato. You know, the kind that squirts juice and drips down your hands when you bite into a thick slice on a mayonnaise laden bread. It makes my mouth water to just think about it.

For the ultimate tomato sandwich choose a big, fully ripe tomato fresh from the garden; one that more than covers your slice of bread. Cut a thick slice an inch thick-yes, an inch thick-because for a tomato sandwich you just need a thick slice! Slather your bread with Real Kraft Mayo and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. Lean over the kitchen sink and sink your teeth into that baby. It just doesn’t get much better! You still might have to change your shirt!

Johnny Denver sang a song about homegrown tomatoes that I really like. Crank up the volume and sing along.

“Homegrown Tomatoes” by Guy Clark.

When Your World Is In Turmoil

I was watering my plants this evening and my mind was thinking about the crazy, upside down world and the violence, tragedy, and turmoil that has seeped into every aspect of our existence. I was thinking about the recent sudden death of Gene’s first cousin from a massive stroke and the cancer diagnoses of someone very close to me. Some of my friends and friends of friends are going through difficult stuff. My world is in turmoil.

All of a sudden I became aware of the stillness and beauty of the evening. The sun had dropped over the western horizon and in its wake left a soft pink and yellow sky. I glanced to the east and it was aglow with a huge fluffy cloud that reflected the after glow of the sun’s rays. It was a stunning, brilliant pink and yellow. I was standing and working in the midst of it all and almost missed it. I was so focused inward with my mind churning with the weight of many problems and failed to see God’s hand painting the the massive sky canvas in front and behind me with the glory of His presence.

Today the message at church spoke to this very need in my soul. In the midst of a very trying time, the Psalmist cried out to God four times, “How long?” How long will you feel so far away? Forever? How long will my prayers be unanswered? How long will I be overwhelmed with sorrow? How long will I feel like the enemy is winning this battle?” (Psalms 13).

The circumstances did not change between verses 4 and 5 but something changed inwardly for the Psalmist. He stilled himself and remembered God’s work in the past. He remembered God’s mercy. He determined to be joyful in his salvation. He declared that he would sing as he remembered God’s bountiful work in his life.

In the midst of his turmoil, he almost missed seeing the canvas of life God was painting.

Following the sermon we sang the words to an old familiar hymn written by Katharina von Schlegal in 1752…. the words may reflect an old English way of speaking, but the words are still true and powerfully speak to the deep need in our heart.

Be Still, My Soul

1. Be still my soul: the Lord is on thy side; Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide. In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul! thy best, thy heavenly Friend. Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

2. Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake, to guide the future as He has the past. Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake; All now mysterious shall be bright at last. Be still, my soul; the waves and wind still know, his voice who ruled them, while He dwelt below.

3. Be still, my soul. The hour is hastening on when we shall be forever with the Lord. When disappointment, grief are gone; sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored. Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past. All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Amen.

Double-Knee Replacement-1 Year Anniversary

Last week I had my one year checkup, to the day from my surgery. What a difference one year makes! As I pulled up to the medical complex at St. Francis Hospital where my doctor’s office and physical therapy is located, lots of memories flooded back. I remember struggling to get in and out of the car, being let out at the front door so I didn’t have so far to walk and shuffling in with my walker and wondering if life would ever be normal again. Today there was no chauffeur driving me to my appointment, no handicap sticker dangling from the mirror and no looking for the closest possible handicap parking spot. Instead of riding the elevator to the second floor, I smiled as I walked over to the two flights of stairs, and confidently without stopping or holding onto the hand rail walked up to my appointment-simply because I could! I came down the same way-because I could.

This was a tough year for me but each week, each month, there was improvement and I am now living a normal, pain-free life. My knees are doing well, the tell-tell knee scar is very faint and I walk without limping. I still know that I have knees, but think about them less and less.

My biggest challenge is the bend of my left knee. I don’t have the bend I have in the right. That knee has been my challenge from day one. I actually lost a little of the bend I had at the end of therapy. I can’t get down on my knees and I have a little fear of sometime falling and not being able to get back up.

Dr. Kerr did x-rays and both knees look like they are suppose to look. He doesn’t know why I struggle so much with bend in that knee. I have mostly learned to adapt and sometimes I remind myself that I am much better than I was before surgery. I need to work again on some therapy exercises because at two years, what I have, is what I have. There is no more changing the situation.

Would I recommend doing the surgery? Absolutely.

Would I want to do both knees at the same time? Absolutely.

I will tell you, it was tough. Tougher than I anticipated or was prepared for. But, it is done, over, and all behind me. The end result is a huge improvement for me. I can walk so much better and am pain-free.

Before surgery
Now
Before surgery
Now

A Beautiful Evening

After supper I mowed the lawn, and then I took an evening ride on my golf cart and enjoyed the beauty of the evening. I saw and enjoyed the glory of God’s creation.

The evening was perfect with a slight gentle breeze. The birds were tweeting their bedtime lullabies, a bull bellowed in the distance, a calf baa’ed for it’s mama, a horse snorted, and the tree frogs were starting to chirp. The bees were all gathering into the safety of the hive for the evening. A squirrel was stuffing his face with seeds from the bird feeder before scurrying to his nest in the treetop.

I saw the sun dip behind the clouds as it sank on the horizon and glory rays lined the clouds. It seemed a perfect time to see Jesus step forward and say, “Saints, come home!”

Storm clouds were gathering in the east.

The cows and horses were quietly grazing in the pasture, filling their bellies before they laid down to chew their cud and rest for the night.

I saw a rabbit resting in the lawn with his legs stretched out behind him. He let me ease up fairly close before he hopped off.

The fragrant yellow blossoms of the evening primrose are starting to bloom and at 8:30 p.m. numerous blossoms popped open as I watched.

When the store closes, everyone goes home, work ceases and all the equipment is parked for the night, the farm is a oasis of absolute peace, quiet and beauty. I love sitting outside, breathing in the fragrances of the farm and listening to the different animal noises. I see God’s handiwork in the flowers, wildlife and sky. I feel His presence in the stillness and love using the opportunity to thank and worship Him. For those moments, the busyness, worries, and stresses of the day and world fade and it is just me and God.

When Unexpected Things Happen

I was jolted awake at 3:15 Sunday morning by a crash in the bathroom. Normally I am a sound sleeper and miss such things as thunder storms, phone ringing and all sorts of night-time doings. Gene had fallen. He didn’t think it was his heart. He wasn’t nauseated or light-headed, just extreme pain in his ribs. His skin was cold and clammy and he was sweating profusely. I helped him up but he immediately “crumbled” to the floor, three times. The last time I couldn’t get him up and had to call 911.

It is a terrible feeling watching your loved one leave in the squad and you can’t go along. They did an EKG and ruled out his heart. We figured the root of the problem was the big bruise on his back. They told me to stay at home, if I went to the hospital, I would be turned away at the door because of covid 19 pandemic restrictions.

Earlier in the week we had a bull get out and as Gene was putting him back into the pen, he slipped and fell as he jumped a ditch and fell on his back on a piece of angle iron. He heard a crack and figured he had either cracked or broken a rib.

He didn’t feel it was necessary to go to the doctor because he knew they would say there is nothing they can do, just be careful. (Just like a broken nose or toe). He developed a big bruise on his back and had to be careful how he turned, but after a few days felt really good. On Saturday, he put forty acres of hay on the ground. He knew he had a narrow window with the weather but because he wraps his bales, he planned to rake and bale on Monday (Memorial Day) and Tuesday. At supper Saturday evening, he commented on how good he felt.

Little did we know the unseen danger that was lurking. It didn’t take long at the hospital to discover that he had blood in his chest cavity. He was bleeding internally. They inserted a drainage tube and drained off over a liter of blood. They ended up moving him to a different hospital that could handle a trauma injury.

I had to take some things to Gene before they moved him and I was allowed to speak to him as they loaded him onto the ambulance.

The next two days were excruciatingly painful but on Tuesday evening he was able to come home. He is resting and on the road to recovery. Today I took him on a “field trip” to check on his cows and see the hay fields that had been baled, without him.

Gene basically makes the hay by himself. He has a friend (Wray) who helps some with the raking when needed. Suddenly we had a big problem. We had 40 acres of really nice hay that needed to be raked, baled and wrapped before the tropical storm comes in Wednesday night. Not just anyone can do it.

It is really neat to watch God work. God specializes in the miraculous, the big stuff, the tough and overwhelming, the seemly impossible. Gene was stressing big time, trying to solve his problem while dealing with unbearable pain. I made a few calls and soon the phone was ringing. Within a few hours I had Wray lined up to rake the hay, Steve to bale, Keith to wrap and Sam to go for more plastic wrap. Luke had volunteered to bale but he had never run our equipment or a computer controlled baler. I called Steve, a good farmer friend and past employee who knew our equipment, and asked him if he could come for an hour or so and help Luke get started. Luke is a farm guy and no stranger to baling hay, just not using our equipment. Steve had his own hands full as he had sixty acres of hay on the ground. He said, “if Luke tedded his hay, he would bale ours”. Steve’s hay wasn’t ready to bale until Tuesday. Suddenly everything felt right and good. The heavy bag of worry I was carrying just rolled away.

Sunday evening Keith got all the tractors filled with fuel and attached to the proper equipment so that everything was ready to roll. Some of the equipment was moved to the field. Monday I just watched the day unfolded. I took pictures and kept saying, “thank you, Jesus”. At 9:05 p.m. the last of the 200 bales rolled from the baler and the tractor parked. About fifty bales had to be wrapped on Tuesday morning. The job was done, thanks to family and friends.

After hearing the many phone calls and texts from concerned people and hearing the offers to help, our grandson who had watched an amazing thing unfold said, “I can’t BELIEVE how many people have offered to help.” He had witnessed what seemed impossible as a community of friends, family and church friends rallied to help. When the unexpected happened, the unexpected happened. Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. God is good.

Raking

A beautiful sight.
Baling
A beautiful field.
Wrapping
Just checking on things!

Pandemic Observations

Here are some of my random thoughts and observations during this corvid-19 epidemic and shutdown.

Who would have thought the gears of this country and the world could grind to a halt so dramatically and so fast. What will be the long-term affect? How fast will the sleeping dragon be able to awake and stir back into action. Time will tell.

We have worried about terrorist attacks, electrical grid outages, computer sabotage, contamination of major water supplies, and nuclear missiles, but it was a microscopic, unseen virus that got us.

We have been living as if our “wants” are necessities. Shortages and empty shelves are turning us into panicky, selfish hoarders. Our system of supply and demand is very fragile. We expect grocery shelves to always be full and all our “wants” to be satisfied. So many people live on the edge and don’t know how to preserve food or cook. We depend on weekly (or maybe daily) runs to the grocery store. It is shocking how many people depend on restaurants and fast-food for the majority of their meals, including breakfast.

Almost all businesses, retail giants and small, operate on the edge. To close down, even for a week, is devastating. This is really scary. Families live pay check to pay check. There is no reserve. How many business will survive a month or more shutdown?

This worldwide shutdown has affected every country, every nation and every aspect of our life; food, medicine, medical care, recreation, education, worship, banking, transportation, social activities, shopping, interstate commerce and transportation of goods, and even online shopping. We depend on the world for our energy, food, medicine and manufacturing. Every business and job has suffered the consequences-even the essential.

It is amazing how quickly your schedule can go from hectic full to nothing. No meetings, no sports, no appointments, no church, no school or school events, and no family get togethers. Nothing. No places to go, no things to do. Families are starting to reconnect, parents are cooking, cleaning, doing home projects, and helping kids with homework. Suddenly there is the urge to homestead with a few chickens and a garden plot.

Isn’t it amazing how the earth is healing itself? I read and hear reports of smog free air in major cities and countries for the first time in many, many years. All it has taken is a few short weeks of staying at home! I even read one seismology report that says there has been a sudden and dramatic decrease in the earth’s quivering. Who would have thought that all our running hither and yon has made the earth quiver!

It has been difficult for some people to take the virus restrictions seriously. Why do parents take their most precious, irreplaceable possession (children) to stores and with no protection? Why do they flock in droves to Walmart and Lowes for nonessentials and ignore the order to stay home? Why are they still having parties, going to the beach and visiting grandpa and grandma as if it doesn’t apply to them?

How quickly our lives have changed…for the short-term. We wash, scrub, sanitize, disinfect, cover, schedule curb-side pickup, wait in drive through lines, worry about getting within the magical six feet of another human, and won’t leave the house without mask and gloves. We no longer hug, fist bump or shake hands, and Lord help us if we cough or sneeze in public.

Church and worship is a very important part of my life. In fact, I have discovered going to church is the anchor for my week. I find it difficult to keep track of which day of the week it is! It is harder to keep Sunday a day of rest when we don’t go to church. I miss my church family and friends. Worshiping Jesus and following Him does not depend on church but it sure does help. In fact, I think long-term, it depends on it. Listening to youtube sermons is helpful and suffices for the short-term, but it still leaves a void in my life. Giving my church sisters a hug is not the same as a phone call or text message. I know, missing a few Sundays will not be the end of church, but it has helped me to appreciate the freedom to worship in our country and to not take it for granted.

We have had persons at our church going through some difficult things; surgery, death, illness, and hospice. We so desperately want to visit, hug, help and be with our loved ones when they grieve and suffer alone. When we gather around hurting loved ones to pray we feel the loving arms of God through our brothers and sisters in Christ. It gives us strength, peace and care. Leaving a pot of soup or a loaf of bread on someone’s porch is nice, but it leaves a huge gaping hole in our emotional care for them and us.

The natural tendency of people is to complain and criticize. Instead of being grateful the virus has been slowed down due to restrictions, they whine that they have been misled. Instead of praying for our country, President, leaders and health care workers, they mock, belittle, criticize, destroy, and place blame. Instead of giving thanks to God that lives have been spared, they politicize and fear that government is trying to take over their lives. Instead of turning to God in our time of great need, we harden our hearts.

I leave us all with a challenge to seek God with all our hearts and not take for granted the freedom we have to worship freely. Pray daily for our President and leaders as they carry the weight of our nation and the world on their shoulders. Respect and obey our leaders as they give guidance through this difficult time. Confess our sins as a nation that times of refreshing and healing can come. Humble yourself before God. Be grateful and give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. Show kindness and care for one another. Reach out in appropriate ways to a neighbor or friend. We have all received a wound from this battle, some more than others. the wound will heal and maybe a scar will remain. Will you let it make you stronger, wiser and more caring and appreciative of your many blessings? Remember, this is for the short-term. God be with you dear friends.

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