Sherri our daughter shared at all three weekend services at JBC this past weekend. She shared about her husband’s farming accident that happened two years ago when he broke his neck and now is paralyzed and in a wheelchair and how they have dealt with that event trusting in God and growing in character
and in their relationship with God as a result. Sherri spoke for 35 minutes and though she was telling their story she was also teaching and encouraging all who were listening on how to deal with unexpected trials in a way that would cause them to grow instead of becoming bitter at God and life in general as many do. This was the first time I have heard Sherri speak publicaly like this, and I came to the conclusion while listening to her in three services that God has given her a great gift. Like many who have been given a significant giftedness, a supernatural ability to edify others she is reluctant to admit that she has been entrusted with an ability from God to make a huge difference in the lives of others. As her Father I have a new goal of encouraging her to move out of her comfort zone and develope this gift and use it as a wise steward of God. Thomas and Sherri and their little boy Courage are living with us so I have lots of opportunities to encourage, teach, harass and nag. I think this is going to be a fun journey. I hope Sherri thinks so to 😄
I have had my aquaponics set up going for about two months now. I have 109 tilapia in a 270 gallon tank. In the tank I have a 400 gallon per hour sump pump that pumps continuously. The water loaded with fish poop goes into my grow beds that are filled with 3/4 pea gravel. My grow beds are 10 feet long, by 3 feet wide, by 1 foot deep, and I have two of them. They fill with the fish poop laden water in about 45 minutes and then it all siphons back into the fish tank in about 5 minutes, and then the filling process starts again. This process of filling and draining continues automatically. The pea gravel filters all of the fish poop out of the water and the fish tank stays nice and clear and the ammonia and nitrite levels near zero and the fish grow like crazy. It seems crazy but I just broadcasted seed into the 3/4 pea gravel and I have spinach, lettuce, beets, parsnips, and tomatos and they are growing incredibly fast. They really like the nutrient rich water that comes from the fish tank. I will harvest a bunch of spinach and lettuce tomorrow and in about 2 more months we will have tilapia cooking on the grill. I have had so much fun learning about aquaponics and building the system. I have my present system in a 10×12 greenhouse that I built. I am getting ready to expand my system using a 1000 gallon above ground swimming pool that is 12 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep and I will have 6 grow beds to go with the fish tank. With these two systems I will be able to harvest 1000 lbs of tilapia fillets and lots of vegetables of every kind each year. It is a good thing I have lots of kids and grandkids to help me eat it all. I was reading last night of an aquaponics system set up on 5 floors in an old warehouse using all grow lights that covered about 3,0000 square feet of floor space and they made a million dollars a year in profit selling fish and vegetables. Whooooeeeee, I am not going to do that but is fun to think about.
Our daughter Sherri shared tonight at JBC’s Saturday evening service. She shared about the journey she and her husband Thomas have been on since he broke his neck in a farming accident two years ago. She did amazingly well, not just in communicating their story clearly, and in a way that brought all those listening into their life, but also teaching clearly the Biblical principles that each of us can use to go through tough times. One of our parenting goals in raising our 8 children was that they would grow up to be tough. To be tough means that you know how to strengthen yourself in the Lord so that you can manage anything that comes into your life. Sherri demonstrated great toughness not in being strong but in knowing how to be strong in the Lord. I was very proud of Sherri tonight not only in dealing with this trial well but because she was able to pass on very clearly and persuasively Biblical principles to others that will help them to be tough as well.
My dog Russel is very high energy and has a lot of bad habits. He digs holes all over the yard that are so deep you can’t see him in it, he tends to bite people he doesn’t know, he jumps on the grandkids and knocks them down, he chews everything to little bitty pieces, he is especially fond of the kid’s Leggo’s, and when he wants in the house he jumps up and pushes on the door covering it with the mud that he got on his paws digging all the holes. I bought a shock collar to use as a training tool. I especially wanted to use it when people drove in the drive way so that he wouldn’t scare them. It worked quit well. It shocks him and makes a buzzing noise and vibrates all at the same time, so after the first two shocks being the softy that I am I turned the shock part off and the noise and vibration did the trick. Tonight I came into the house and there he lay with the shock collar on the floor in front of him all chewed up into a million pieces. I don’t know how he got it off over his head but he did. Boy, I thought raising 8 kids was tough. As I write this he is sleeping next to my chair glancing up occasionally to make sure I am alright.
Everyday at the end of the day I reflect a bit on the day and my behavior. I think about obvious major mess ups, and what I did and why, and what I should have done and would if I could have a “do over”. My major area of reflection is how I treated people. I want to grow everyday in being totally anger free and being very patient, incredibly gentle, and super wise in the words that I speak so everyone that I talk to is given grace as God would give it through me. It is fairly rare now for me to do or say something that is mean or purposely hurtful. My biggest relational,weakness is that I am so often mentally absorbed in my own life and projects that I totally miss opportunities to say or do something for someone else that would give grace and make their day. I really want to grow in the wisdom and love for others so that I ask good questions to others that encourages them to share their story, their journey with Christ, their needs, their interests and strengths, questions that would help me to truly understand how I can encourage and motivate and help them succeed in life. Accurate self evaluation through personal reflection on the day, that is how I want to end each day and then as I thank God for all that He has done that day to ask Him for more to do tomorrow and His strength to do it well for Him.
I got the maps for the bicycle route across the USA going from San Diago, California to St Augustine, Florida, in the mail today, about 3,500 miles. A small group of us are planning on leaving on this trip in one year, about the first of March and taking two months. We are going earlier to escape the heat of the Southern part of the US. All the memory of the pain of the last trip on the “Northern Tier” has about been forgotten so thinking about anther trip is getting easier. I can’t wait until one of my grandkids is old enough to go with me, and actually wants to go and their Mom and Dad will trust me to take care of them. It won’t be that long before they would actually be taking care of me. Before I get to old to do it and when Mike is preaching so good that nobody will miss me, probably not that far away, I want to leave my house and head South to San Diago, go East to St Augustine, Florida, North to Washington DC, and then West back to home. That would be about 9,000 miles and take 4 months. Now that would be an adventure for as old as I will be then. I even entertained the idea of doing the trip I did on my motorcycle 5 years ago where I hit all lower 48 States. That would be 13,000 miles and take 6 months,whooooooeeeeee, now that would be something to write about. I bet I would get a lot of sermon illustrations if I were still preaching. It probably won’t happen but it sure is fun to think about it and dream.
Reading the news and then thinking back to when I was about 20 years old and farming it seems that the world has steadily gotten worse and worse. It may just be that news is so available on internet that I am more aware of it now, but I don’t think so. The amount of international conflict now seems to dwarf the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the USA when I was a kid, and though the Vietnam war was bad it seems like we could be in two or three of those just about any day now. In reading the Bible God tells us that things will indeed get worse and worse though man tries in vain to fix things. As bad as things are today they will get worse, but I am not worried because the Bible also says that when things can’t get much worse Jesus will come back to the earth and will rule and be the King and there will be no more war, or disease, or politics. I am confidently looking forward to that day. Those who serve Him now will rule with Him then. That will be cool.
Our airplane home last night from our trip to Missouri was a couple hours late taking off so we didn’t land in Portland until 1 am this morning. When we landed I asked Patty if she was awake enough to drive and she said that if she drove we would die, which was what I was thinking about me, so we stayed in a Motel in Portland and slept in until 9 am this morning! I don’t know what it is about getting older but it is so nice to get home now. It just feels so good to drive up the driveway, and see the house and the place, the world may be falling apart, but I am not to concerned because I am at home. My good feeling about being home reminded me of what Paul said in Phillipians 3:20, “our citizenship is in heaven”, this home is really not my home, my citizenship is in heaven. I am eager to go there and see all that there is to see, to get my glorified body, to see things as they really are, to see and talk to the Lord, incomprhensible is what it is.
I am sitting in the airport at Kansas City waiting to board our plane that was just announced to be 90 minutes late. Yikes, that will get us into Portland at Midnight. I hope there is still a shuttle running to the motel where our car is. Oh well, delays are part of life and my goal is to respond to all unexpected problems with a smile and good humor. It is fun sitting in an airport watching people. Lots of different people with lots of obvious different personalities. I wonder as I watch them how many love Jesus. Not many probably. People are generally very nice. They all have pressures and problems that they are quick to talk about if right questions are asked. I wish I had the power to fix them all. I wish I had the power to quickly convince them of God’s love for them. Oh well, I will do the best I can with the opportunities that are given to me by God and trust Him with the rest.
A New Testament statement that has controlled most of my life is in Ephesians 5:25, where it says Jesus loves the Church and gave His life for the Church. The Church is the “Body of Christ”, the Church is “The Bride of Christ”. We as people look at the church and see the sin, the flaws, the foibles, the disunity, but the church is still the Eternal Companion of Jesus, and He purchased her with His blood and is in the process of making her beautiful, without spot, wrinkle or blemish. I have devoted my life to serve the Lord by devoting my life to serve His Church. My love for my church is my love for Jesus, no more, no less, my devotion to my church is my devotion to Jesus, no more, no less, when I stand before Jesus at the end of my life at “The Judgment Seat of Christ” I will be rewarded with eternal rewards for what I have done with my life to make His Church healthy, and His Bride beautiful. Lord willing I have a few more years left to devote to Jefferson Baptist Church. Patty and I are in Missouri, and I have been speaking at another church. I texted 6 people tonight and asked how the service went tonight at JBC. The response was, “super good”. The feelings that I have in my heart sitting in a room at midnight reading those texts is like a proud father watching his son graduate from college. Thank You Lord for the priviledge of serving You by building Your Bride, and for the great sense of joy and fullfillment that I have at this moment in my life.