Tuesday, November 27, 2012

God is a God of Order and Order Helps Us Alot!



God created everything with order. Think about the order of planetary motion, sunrises, colors in a rainbow, plant cells, musical notes, mathematical precision in creation and more (Genesis 1).  God's word also teaches us order in family, church, and civil government (Hebrews 11:3, Ephesians 4:10, Romans 13).

We are created in the image of God, who evidently likes order, and most of us like order too. Order helps us accomplish more in less time and think clearly, which is also why we study logic.

Some people are more naturally inclined to keep order in their desks, rooms, houses and businesses, but we all have the tendency to neglect order, which can be a problem in most businesses.

The Japanese 5S system was developed to be a very simple procedure to help factories and offices operate efficiently by eliminating clutter, distractions and wasted time. This is one of many aspects of what is called lean manufacturing, which is a way of keeping order in business.

Bartlett Farm is formally implementing the 5S system towards improving the efficiency and quality of its operations.  These ideas are helpful to anyone who wants to get more done in less time. As the aquaponics business develops in Wickenburg, keeping the 5S ideas in mind will save time and make the working environment more pleasant.

You will also be a more valuable employee if you implement one or more of these ideas in your current job or business or home activities.  Just image being able to find anything withing 30 seconds and not having any clutter.

1. Here is the simple procedure for carrying our a 5 S conversion at your home or business:
http://bartlettfarm.us/south/5S%20Users%20Guide.pdf

2. Here is a small print shop video case study:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3hh6141awE

3. Here are two Boeing training videos on 5S:


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Animal Regulation in the Bible



I thought it might be helpful and interesting to follow-up the dicussion on permits for commerical fish stocking with the following list of Animal Regulation Scriptures.

QUESTIONS
Which scriptures give the state permission to regulate fish permits?

If Jesus is King of Kings, which laws should the civil government be using?

Is the law making place of the legislature Biblical?

Would it be possible to use Biblical laws in modern society with judges who determined who violated a law, like in Moses day?
I am thinking that our theological presuppositions are either:

(a)The state can do anything that the Bible doesn't say it can't do, or
(b) the state can only do what the Bible gives the state permission to do.


Which do you believe and why?

Statement (b) is exactly a restatement of the regulative principle of worship based on the Second Commandment...which shows that we are limited to worship God to the ways that He prescribes.

It is fascinating how our theology plays out so thoroughly into our political viewpoints and thereby has created the culture we have today!

A Handbook of Bible Law - Animal regulations


Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992; 3rd Edition: Dec., 1994


Animal regulations

Comments: The majority of laws in the Bible dealing with animals (other than those surrounding sacrifices which are no longer relevant or applicable to us) involve property rights, owner responsibility and restitution. In the Bible animals are made reference to by the terms "creature," "living thing," "cattle," "beast," and "creeping thing."
The Bible says that God put animals on earth for man to make use of "into your hand are they delivered" (Gen. 9:2). In biblical times animals were used for food, to do work with, as a source of clothing, as money for trading or buying, and even as pets, all of which have changed little since biblical times. So important were animals that the number owned was a measure of one's wealth and social status. 'And Abram was very rich in cattle.. . . "" (Gen. 13:2).
"The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds. But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb (2 Sam. 12:2-3).

Just as today the owner of an animal was responsible for what his animal did to other persons or their property. In fact, if an animal had previous incidents of aggressiveness towards persons, and its owner has been warned about it but fails to take precautions to confine the animal, he is to be regarded as a murdered and put to death if that animal kills someone (Exod. 21:29).


7A - Animals Used For Labor

  1. You are not to work animals on the Sabbath. Exod. 20:10; Exod. 23:12; Deut 5:14.
  2. You are not to have two different kinds of animals work together; You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together. Deut 22:10.
  3. You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that is being used for work. Deut 25:4; 1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18.



7B - Damage and Injury Done by Animals

  1. If an animal kills a person the animal is to be put to death. Exod. 21:28-29.
  2. If an animal is proven to be aggressive, and its owner has been warned, yet he does not confine it, and it kills a man or woman, then both the animal and the owner are to be put to death. If there is a ransom of money demanded of the owner, it can be paid for the redemption of his life. Exod. 21:29-31.
  3. If an animal shall gore a servant, the owner shall give the servant's master a set amount of money and the animal is to be killed. Exod. 21:32.
  4. If a man's animal eats the crop of another man's field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field. Exod. 22:5.
  5. If one man's animal kills another's animal, then the live animal shall be sold and the money (and the dead animal if it be cattle) shall be divided between them. Exod. 21:35.
  6. If an animal which is known to be aggressive kills another animal yet its owner had not confined him, then he shall pay for the animal killed but can keep the dead animal. Exod. 21:36.



7C - Animals Owned by Others

  1. Stolen animals are to be repaid to the owner 4 or 5 times. Exod. 22:1.
  2. Stray animals belonging to your brethren are be brought back to the owner. If the owner is unknown, then you are to keep the animal until the owner comes looking for it and then return it to him. Deut. 22:1-3.
  3. If you encounter an animal of your enemy going astray, you shall bring it back to him. Exod. 23:4.
  4. If a pit is opened or dug and left uncovered, and an animal falls into it, the owner of the pit shall pay the owner of the animal but he can keep the dead animal. Exod. 21:33-34.
  5. If you see an animal of one that hates you lying helpless under its load, you shall release the animal. Exod. 23:5.
  6. You shall not see your brother's ass or ox fall down by the way, and hide yourself from them: you shall surely help him to lift them up again. Deut. 22:4.
  7. Whoever kills another's animal shall make it good, animal for animal. Lev. 24:18, 21.



7D - Animals Borrowed or in Another's Care

  1. If a man gives his neighbor his animal to keep for him and it dies or runs away, then an oath before the LORD shall be made between them, that he has not laid his hands on his neighbor's animal. He is not required to pay for it. Exod. 22:10-11.
  2. If a borrowed animal is stolen, the keeper shall make restitution to the owner of the animal. Exod. 22:12.
  3. If a borrowed animal is torn in pieces, the remains shall be brought as evidence, and no restitution shall be made. Exod. 22:13.
  4. If a man borrows any animal, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution to the owner. But if the owner is with it, no restitution is to be made. Exod. 22:14-15.




    7E - General Care of Animals

    1. You are not to breed cattle with a diverse kind (no hybrid cattle, livestock or pets). Lev. 19:19.
    2. Should have regard for the life of your animals. Prov. 12:10.
    3. Do not separate a newly born ox or sheep or a goat from its mother for the first seven days. Lev. 22:27.
    4. The eggs or young can be taken from a bird's nest but not along with the mother. Deut. 22:6-7.
    5. Know well the condition of your flocks, and pay attention to your herds. Prov. 27:23.

    Tuesday, October 23, 2012

    Fish Stocking Permits: Biblical or Not?

    In North Dakota, the civil government requires a transport and stocking permit for a person to raise fish, even in a 150 gallon aquaponics system.

    Is this a proper role for civil government according to the Bible?  Which Scriptures support your claim.

    Below is a summary of the role of civil government that may be helpful in your analysis. This is the Civil Magistrate Chapter of the original Westminster Confession of Faith written in about 1646. This is what the founding father of America believed about the role of civil government.

    What should Christians do if Arizona requires a transport and stocking permit for the aquaponics system at Legacy High School. Permitting typically involve state inspection, costs, time, paperwork, and the ability of the state to make your aquaponics system illegal for any reason they desire.

    In this situation is the state asking Christians to disobey God? Are they asking something that is  against God's Word or not?   Is asking something against God's Word asking Christians to disobey God?

    How would it be obeying or disobeying God to take the permit? What is your Scripture reference? What would your teachers, parents and or pastors say about this issue?

     
    Chapter XXIII Of the Civil Magistrate
     
    I. God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, has ordained civil magistrates, to be, under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good: and, to this end, has armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers.
     
    II. It is lawful for Christians to accept and execute the office of a magistrate, when called thereunto: in the managing whereof, as they ought especially to maintain piety, justice, and peace, according to the wholesome laws of each commonwealth; so, for that end, they may lawfully, now under the New Testament, wage war, upon just and necessary occasion.
     
    III. The civil magistrate may not assume to himself the administration of the Word and sacraments, or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven: yet he has authority, and it is his duty, to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the Church, that the truth of God be kept pure and entire, that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed, all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline prevented or reformed, and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administrated, and observed. For the better effecting whereof, he has power to call synods, to be present at them and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God
     
    IV. It is the duty of people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute or other dues, to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority, for conscience' sake. Infidelity, or difference in religion, does not make void the magistrates' just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to them: from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted, much less has the Pope any power and jurisdiction over them in their dominions, or over any of their people; and, least of all, to deprive them of their dominions, or lives, if he shall judge them to be heretics, or upon any other pretence whatsoever.
     
    Scripture References Supporting the Above Summary
     
    ROM 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 1PE 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
    PRO 8:15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. 16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. ROM 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
    PSA 2:10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. 1TI 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. PSA 82:3 Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy. 4 Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked. 2SA 23:3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. 1PE 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme.
    LUK 3:14 And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. ROM 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. MAT 8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. 10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. ACT 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. REV 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. 16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
    2CH 26:18 And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God. MAT 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. MAT 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 1CO 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? EPH 4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. 1CO 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. ROM 10:15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! HEB 5:4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
    ISA 49:23 And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me. PSA 122:9 Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek thy good. EZR 7:23 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? 25 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that is in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that are beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know them not. 26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment. 27 Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers, which hath put such a thing as this in the king's heart, to beautify the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem: 28 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellers, and before all the king's mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the Lord my God was upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me. LEV 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. DEU 13:5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the Lord thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee. 6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers. 12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the Lord thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, etc. 2KI 18:4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan. (1CH 13:1-8; 2KI 24:1-25) 2CH 34:33 And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the Lord their God. And all his days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers. 2CH 15:12 And they entered into a covenant to seek the Lord God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; 13 That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.
    2CH 19:8 Moreover in Jerusalem did Jehoshaphat set of the Levites, and of the priests, and of the chief of the fathers of Israel, for the judgment of the Lord, and for controversies, when they returned to Jerusalem. 9 And he charged them, saying, Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully, and with a perfect heart. 10 And what cause soever shall come to you of your brethren that dwell in their cities, between blood and blood, between law and commandment, statutes and judgments, ye shall even warn them that they trespass not against the Lord, and so wrath come upon you, and upon your brethren: this do, and ye shall not trespass. 11 And, behold, Amariah the chief priest is over you in all matters of the Lord; and Zebadiah the son of Ishmael, the ruler of the house of Judah, for all the king's matters: also the Levites shall be officers before you. Deal courageously, and the Lord shall be with the good. (2CH 29-30) MAT 2:4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet.
    1TI 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
    1PE 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.
    ROM 13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
    ROM 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. TIT 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.
    1PE 2:13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.
    ROM 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 1KI 2:35 And the king put Benaiah the son of Jehoiada in his room over the host: and Zadok the priest did the king put in the room of Abiathar. ACT 25:9 But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? 10 Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar's judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. 11 For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. 2PE 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. 11 Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. JUD 8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. JUD 9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. 10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
    2TH 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. REV 13:15 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. 16 And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: 17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Aquaponic Food Production for Long Term Survival



    This article does a nice job sumarizing several basic points worth knowing about aquaponics.  It is also helpful to us as we start-up a small scale system, since it is designed for survival situations. We are focused on commerical aquaponics and so need to do many things different, but see if you can gleen a few helpful ideas like I did..

    Here is the link, please read the whole article, I am thinking that a future quiz will cover some of its points: http://www.survivalblog.com/2011/07/aquaponic_food_production_for.html

    Here is a quote:

    "A working "biofilter" is the key ingredient to a good aquaponics system, as the bacteria in the biofilter keeps the fish water clean, and changes ammonia into nitrogen for the plants. The bacteria need to reside in a wet environment that has plenty of oxygen, and little or no light. A gravel bed that is alternately flooded and drained, is perfect for this type of bacteria to thrive in. Other aquaponic solutions, such as Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) and Deep Water Raft Technique, use a large amount of netting submerged in the water to give a place for the bacteria to reside. We chose a grow-bed filled with 1 foot of gravel as our biofilter, as it is simpler to build.

    The bacteria in the gravel biofilter changes the ammonia into nitrogen in two steps. The first step is performed by the Nitrosomonas bacteria, which changes the total fish ammonia (NH3 and NH4+) into nitrite (NO2). The next process is accomplished by the Nitrobacter bacteria that changes the nitrite (NO2) into nitrate (NO3), which the plants use as fertilizer. The ammonia and nitrites are very toxic to fish, while the nitrates are fairly harmless, so it is important to monitor the bacteria by testing the water quality using the inexpensive aquarium test strips sold at any pet store. As long as you have a large amount of gravel or other media for the bacteria to colonize, your water quality won't be an issue. If you are using sterile media, you won't have any bacteria to start with, and you will need to purchase the bacteria from an aquarium shop or from Fritz-Zyme. We used gravel from a creek, as the Nitrosomonas and Nitrobacter bacteria is always abundant in river gravel. Since these two types of bacteria work in tandem and do not reproduce quickly, it may take anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to ramp up the bacteria to full production. So, it may important not to add a large number of fish at the same time unless you already have a good supply of bacteria at work in your system.   Our first step in construction of our Aquaponic system was to lay an 8' x 8' "carpet" of around 40 concrete blocks for the foundation of the fish tank. It took a long time to get the blocks level using a spirit level and a long 2x4, but this is probably the most crucial part of the construction. The next step was to build the fish tank out of wood, that would ultimately be fitted with a rubber liner. I created a square box out of 2x12 lumber standing on their edges, that was a little less than 8' x 8' and held together by wood screws. I designed it so that the 2x12's had an extra 3.5" overlap or "flap" on each of the corners, so I could drill holes and put carriage bolts through the 4x4 posts and 2x12 sides from two different directions on each of the outside corners. This holds the wood seams together. It is very important to "overbuild" the tank seams on a wooden fish tank with carriage bolts, wood screws, etc. as the water pressure is very great. Once I had my square box built, I made sure it was perfectly "square" by measuring the distances diagonally across from each corner. When these two distances were the same, I knew it was square. Then I covered what was to be the bottom of the tank with 8' long 2x4s, nailed into the 2x12s with a 2" gap between each 2x4. When I turned the 8'x8' box over and placed it on the concrete block foundation, the gaps between the 2x4s allowed me to put shims between the blocks and the 2x4s, so that each concrete block was helping to evenly support the 2x4s that held up the fish tank. "

    Saturday, September 22, 2012

    The Reason Bees are Dying

     
    As a beekeeper, I have been watching for scientific evidence of colony collapse disorder over the past several years.  The article linked below is the first one that seems to report science that has gotten to the bottom of the problem.  This is considered the single greatest threat to the world food supply, since bees pollinate many crops, which would not produce well or at all without them.  Long story short...

    " But three new studies point an accusing finger at a culprit that many have suspected all along, a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.  In the U.S. alone, these pesticides, produced primarily by the German chemical giant Bayer and known as “neonics” for short, coat a massive 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy and cotton seeds. They are also a common ingredient in home gardening products."

    Due to copyright restrictions, I can't repost this article, so here is the original link to read:

    http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2012/04/09/mystery-of-the-disappearing-bees-solved/

    What should Christians do about this?  What does the Bible say about this?

    Monday, September 17, 2012

    What Does a Project Manager Do?

    Since you are all learning how to either be a project manager or work with the project manager team, here is a helpful orientation to what a project manager can be expected to do. (ref. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-a-project-manager-do.htm)


    
    ___________________________________
    A project manager manages a team of people in order to get a project completed. Project managers work in every industry and are held accountable for the outcome of projects. The main duties of a project manager are planning, organizing, managing, controlling and following through on all parts of a project.

    Project managers start with the objective or purpose to be achieved in a particular project. Then, determined on available resources such people, equipment and budget, they plan how the project will be achieved step-by-step. Project managers usually ask for ideas and suggestions from the employees who report to them.

    A project manager must organize the project by deciding who will complete each step and by when. In larger organizations, the project manager may appoint team leaders to handle different project areas. These team leaders supervise a group of workers and report directly to the project manager.
    The ability to delegate tasks and accomplish objectives through other people is a necessary project management skill. A project manager has to be able to successfully control how the project is executed so that the end result is successful. Schedules and tracking must flow. Project managers have to be prepared to step in and make needed changes if a problem or delay occurs. They have to have trouble-shooting or problem-solving abilities because it's their responsibility to keep the project on track or to get it back on track when things go wrong...

    Following through in all project areas, whether there are team leaders or not, is absolutely crucial for the project manager's success. If he or she neglects to follow up in even one part of the project, it may mean that the objective isn't reached and the project didn't go as planned. The success or the failure of a project is ultimately the responsibility of the project manager.

    Machines and Families

    What are the positive and negative aspects of advancing technology's impact on  your family? What does God, in general, what men and women to do with their time? Since some individuals are interested and gifted in working with technology, how can the advancement of technology best fit with other Biblical truths? What is "standard of living" in a Biblical definition?

    Here is an artilce to bring some historical and biblical analysis to this issue, this is part one of two parts. I read the book referenced and it is very interesting in how family based economy has been replaced with corporation based economies with negative affects on family and church etc.  Feel free to ask questions, since this article may bring up some that are not herein answered.
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    Machines and Families
    By Howard King

    Christians today are deeply divided on many issues that are vital to the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Some believe that the world has no future and that it is therefore a waste of time to debate what the future ought to look like. Others imagine a future that looks a lot like the present technological society, only "cleaned up" by the influence of a dominant Christian majority. A small minority of us see a radically different design for the establishment of God's Kingdom in the world. We believe in a kind of Christian Agrarianism.

    The technological model focuses on tools, while the agrarian model focuses on the task itself which God gave to man at his creation — to make the whole earth into a beautiful and fruitful garden. The Technologist believes that the key to a better future is better and better tools. Efficiency at all costs! If the institutions and conventions of society have to "evolve" to accommodate the quest for greater productivity and a higher standard of living — so be it! Of course Christians who are Technologists must draw the line at some changes (usually to retreat and re-draw the line somewhere farther back later on). The status quo dictated by the technological establishment generally prevails. Even Scripture must bend to accommodate it.

    The Christian Agrarian, on the other hand, asserts that industrialism as it has existed historically is not an acceptable way for man to exercise dominion over the earth. He maintains that as a system:
    1. It is based on defective and unbiblical principles [money and corporations v. serving God and others].
    2. It tends to the destruction of nature, rather than its cultivation [GMO, floride, chemtrails..].
    3. It is hostile to the institutions requisite to a godly social order [family, church, school, hospitals, corporations..].

    To date, no work has appeared (to this author's knowledge) which provides an adequate defense of Christian Agrarianism. Until this occurs, I know of no better critique of industrialism available than This Ugly Civilization, by Ralph Borsodi. Published in 1929, just before the Great Depression, this book clearly pointed to some of the problems which created the greatest economic downturn in our history. It is a wide-ranging, thorough-going and utterly damning critique of the causes, nature and ultimate results of industrialism. But it goes further, showing also how it is possible to resist and proposing alternatives for the living of life as it was intended to be lived.

    Though the world Borsodi bravely takes on is the world of the 1920s, I believe that his work is still relevant. High technology is, after all, just the advanced stage of industrialism. It is accelerated and intensified industrialism — the factory on steroids. As such. both the quantitative gains and the qualitative losses produced by the modern factory system are accentuated. And the already-stressful pace of change has been vastly accelerated.

    It will be plain to the reader of Borsodi that he was not a Christian. I wish he had been, but he was in fact a militant atheist and a nihilist. His concern was only with the things of this life. Taking this into account, I would not favor the unedited re-printing of this book. However, its value remains, and I suggest we make use of it in a spirit of gratefulness to the One who is the source of all truth, wherever found, and who lays up the wealth of the wicked for the just.

    The style is vigorous and passionate and exceedingly clear. As compared with the abstractedness of Jacques Ellul's The Technological Society, it is concrete and specific — both in its critique and in its proposal of alternatives to the status quo. (I was never quite sure what Ellul wanted us to do.)

    Neither Borsodi nor Christian Agrarians are against the use or the improvement of tools. Rather, we insist that machines are to serve man — not man the machine. By destroying the village and the productive homestead, the Industrial Revolution has wreaked a calamity upon mankind of incalculable dimensions. Though enriched in the number and variety of possessions, we have been impoverished in terms of human values like community, family life, self-expression and fulfilling work.

    Borsodi boldly asks the question, "Where would we be today, if the genius of the Industrial Revolution had been applied for the benefit of domestic production [home businesses], rather than to centralized mass production?" I suspect we would see a very different world — one in which massive waste of resources, pollution, urbanization, social upheaval, displacement of small-scale farmers and craftsmen, degradation of work, socialization of national life, class warfare, reduction of product quality, weakening of the family, and the virtual extinction of the homemaker had never occurred.

    Instead, if machines had been developed and refined for the improvement of the homestead, the quality of our lives would have been made better — not worse. And here is the bright spot in Borsodi's assessment of our predicament. It is not too late for an "industrial counter-revolution." Residential electric rates are low today. Power is cheap. Technology is being developed for homestead applications as never before. All we need is the vision and courage to step out and challenge the system that we are sick and tired of anyway!

    Borsodi goes into detail to show us that it is economically feasible to build productive, more self-sufficient homesteads that will provide the satisfaction of living more meaningful, natural, comfortable lives. For Christian Agrarians, this is more than an option — it is mandated conformity to the Divine plan. It is the shape of things to come. "But every man shall sit under his own vine and his own fig tree, and none shall make him afraid."(Micah 4:4)

    This Ugly Civilization is available online at:
    http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0303critic/030302borsodi.ugly/030302borsodi.toc.html

    (This article originally appeared in "Patriarch Magazine" edited and copyrighted by Phil Lancaster. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

    Monday, September 10, 2012

    What is Christian Agrarianism?


    Below is one of the articles that was influential in the Bartlett family transition from city life to country life in 2004.  Howard King, a pastor, wrote a series of articles and book reviews along these lines originally published in Patriarch Magazine. Howard King challenged us to rethink the impact of technology on family life and Spiritual life.

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    The Biblical Basis of Christian AgrarianismBy: Howard Douglas King

    What in the World is Christian Agrarianism?
    Agrarianism is a philosophy that is based on the belief in the primary importance of agriculture. Agrarians attempt to understand and articulate the ideal relationship of agriculture to the various social institutions. We believe that the physical, spiritual and social well-being of mankind depends on a common understanding of, and commitment to, man's most ancient, and only necessary, occupation. Accordingly, we seek to articulate social theory that gives agriculture its due honor; and to urge reforms that will tend to encourage homesteading and subsistence farming as a way of life. Unfortunately, most of the agrarian literature does not represent a biblical worldview. I am trying, therefore, to propound a form of agrarianism that is both distinctively Christian and consistently scriptural, by gathering the truths scattered throughout the agrarian writings into a coherent system that rests firmly on the foundation of Holy Scripture. That is what I mean when I use the term, "Christian Agrarianism".

    What then is my purpose? Ultimately, I want to show that some of the most massive, intractable problems that we face as a society are the result of a fundamental error -- the failure to define the proper corporate calling of humankind by the Word of God. That's right! One of the main reasons that we are in the mess we are in today is because we have neglected the simple Scriptural fact that God appointed man to be a tiller of the ground. And we will never see the establishment of a truly godly social order until we return to our agrarian roots. Please take note that for some of us this point is not merely academic. As a Postmillennialist, I cherish the hope that the world will yet see a flourishing Christian social order before the bodily return of Jesus Christ to this world at the end of history. But whether or not you share that expectation, the question of man's corporate calling is still relevant to our critique of the dominant culture.

    But before I can hope to demonstrate the connection between our modern world's repudiation of agrarian social order and the prevalent evils of modern society, I must first show a biblical basis for my agrarian belief. That is my aim in this series.

    A Proper Historical Perspective
    I have been accused of teaching a new and extreme doctrine. And I admit that it may appear to be novel or extreme if it is misunderstood. So please note: I am not saying that we must all immediately sell our homes and set up farming homesteads. What I am saying is that, according to Scripture, mankind was created to till the ground. I am saying that this truth of man's corporate duty must begin first to register, and then to resonate in our consciences. I am saying that society as a whole must somehow, sooner or later, return to a social order directed to the end for which man was made -- the subduing of the uncultivated earth, the re-creation of Eden on a worldwide scale, the conversion of the wilderness into a garden that will bring forth the wholesome and the beautiful, for the praise and glory of the Creator.

    This is not a new idea, but it was held almost unconsciously, as a pre-supposition, until the modern age, because there was no practical alternative to an agrarian order. Food production simply demanded the labor of the larger part of mankind. Man ate bread by the sweat of his brow. The rich and powerful were those who owned the most of the productive land and livestock, and the shape of society reflected this reality. Only recently have other forms of wealth superseded in importance the ownership of real property.

    There never has been a church council or synod that declared the Bible to be an agrarian book. But that was never necessary, because before the industrial revolution, society was founded on agrarian principles. Since the beginning of time, most people were engaged in some way in the cultivation of the soil. No one doubted that this was proper and natural, so there was little reason to discuss it. But now we have only two percent of the population engaged in agriculture, an all-time low. The family farm is disappearing.

    The shift has been drastic, but few foresaw it, for it came suddenly and unannounced. Theologians didn't debate the probable impact of the abandonment of the agrarian order beforehand -- the few that raised the issue were not heeded. It is a little known fact that the great American Puritan, Jonathan Edwards deplored the change from a village-based agrarian lifestyle to an urban and commercial society.

    The chief calamity, for Edwards, was the temptation to market behavior: "exceeding extravagant" consumption, "continual" indebtedness, "common people" pursuing status through wealth, and "county towns" affecting "to be like the metropolis."(Law and Providence in Joseph Bellamy's New England, Mark Valeri, p.81)


    Joseph Bellamy, a crucial figure in New England during the years leading up to the War of Independence, and a disciple of Edwards, spent the latter part of his life defending Calvinism, while warning against the consequences of offending God by a mad rush towards commercialism and away from traditional agrarian community life. Valeri comments on the connection between the theological and the economic:

    Contrasting theories of human nature revealed profound disagreements about the growth of commerce and its chief premise: the autonomous pursuit of wealth in an open market. Bellamy wrote of self-denial and the subjugation of self-interest when the proponents of the market lauded self-interest as the proper means to prosperity. The debate about original sin was furious because it referred to that most mundane of matters—the economy. (Valeri, p.77)


    For Bellamy, not only the agrarian way of life, but Christian society itself was at stake:

    In 1762, he warned Connecticut's magistrates at the annual election that the spread of market behavior portended the total collapse of society. In the fluctuating values and prices of the market, merchants filled "their traffic full of deceit and fraud." Commerce lured people to forego their stewardship over and cultivation of the land, only to deal in the chimerical and fabricated world of money, where "luxury, idleness, debauchery" and "dishonesty" reigned. (Valeri, p.89)


    Seeing The Trees, But Missing The Forest
    We tend to accept without question the things that were already established when we came into the world. A native citizen of Rome under the Caesars would never have seriously considered that the great Empire to which he owed his status and privileges might rest on a false foundation -- that it was in fact an unrighteous nation, committed to the idolatrous worship of false gods and wicked men, that could only survive by preying upon the weaker surrounding nations. He would not be very open to the suggestion that his wicked nation was doomed from the start, and that, however long it survived, it carried within it the seeds of its own destruction.

    In the same way, modern man takes for granted the legitimacy of the modern world, and is not easily persuaded to entertain the thought that it might be built on a false foundation. Even Christians, when they begin to see that the technological society has certain elements built into it that are harming the church and the family in obvious ways, find it hard to believe that the technological society itself might be the problem. The initial response is to look for some adjustment that can be made -- ideally an easy and quick adjustment -- in order to render at least that part of the technological society upon which his own welfare depends more bearable.

    As an example: the godly man who learns that "public education" is just a euphemism for the systematic enslavement of his child to the state religion through the corruption of his child's mind and soul is apt to see that he must do something immediately to protect his child -- but he will rarely look further than is required to solve the immediate crisis. He may lack the categories of thought to deal with the deeper crisis of creeping statism. The same man may be frustrated that he can't support his family on one salary, and may reluctantly ask his wife to work outside the home as a solution to the urgent necessity of his present need for money. Ask him why the system is putting such financial pressure on his family, and he may answer. "Life is complicated and exhausting enough! It takes all my time and energy just to keep up. I don't have time to worry about things I can do nothing about!"

    And so it happens that the question is rarely asked -- are the evils of our modern world inherent in its system of organization and in its foundational principles? My aim is to show that technological society could never have existed if the rulers of this world had not decided that it was in their best interests to set at naught some of the most basic teachings of God's word -- that the system would be impossible to sustain if mankind ever began to operate on the principle of obedience to the whole word of God.

    The Idea Of A Corporate Vocation
    The assumption of modern man is that any occupation is as good as any other, as long as it's not outright sinful and pays well. But this view is seriously flawed. Let me illustrate it this way: a fire company has a basic mission -- to put out fires. While everyone in the company has a specialty, and a defined role, yet each one is there to fight fires. The driver does not sit in the cab while the others risk their lives. Furthermore, there is no entertainer in the company, no banker, no merchant, and no attorney. In terms of the mission of the fire company, such skills are not needed, and would constitute a waste of resources.

    In the same way, mankind has a mission which every human being ought to be somehow involved in furthering. For God has given the human family a clearly-defined mission. That mission is the sacred stewardship of the soil from whence it came, and by which all life is nourished. It is the cultivation of the soil for the production of nutritious food and beautiful living things, to the glory of the Creator. That is the distinctive message of Christian Agrarianism -- that whatever our individual gifts and callings may be, our corporate task is -- and has always been -- to make the world a garden.

    This is not to deny the Great commission. It is to understand it. For the goal of redemption is not only to save us from wrath, but to save us to the fulfillment of God's original purposes for mankind. God was not mistaken in creating man as he is, and the ultimate happiness of the creature called man is naturally to be found in the work that God gave to him in the beginning. Next, we shall look at what Scripture has to say about the proper corporate vocation of mankind.

    The Proper Corporate Vocation Of Mankind
    Let us begin at the beginning -- the Book of Beginnings. Here the Christian finds the only authoritative account of the origin of man, his true nature and Divine calling. Here we learn that after the whole creation had been completed and furnished more gloriously than any palace, populated with magnificent creatures and decorated with an abundance of fruitful vegetation, provided with rivers of pure water and abundant minerals, ceiled over with a sky that never threatened -- God planted a garden. It was not enough that God had created a whole beautiful world for His children -- His care was so great and so personal, that He set aside a special spot in the midst of its natural (but uncultivated) beauty for them. Here, He Himself planted a garden! The first gardener was God Himself!

    The garden has been planted. All is in readiness. What remains to be done? What is lacking? "There was no man to till the ground."(Gen. 2:5) Just as the narrative in Chapter one stops to tell us that "the earth was without form and void"(Gen.1:2) before it tells us that God imposed order on the confused mass (vss.6-9); just as it informs us that "darkness was upon the face of the deep"(vs.2) before the Divine command," Let there be light!"; just as we are shown that the man could find no suitable helpmeet in the creation (vs. 20) before we are told of the creation of woman -- so we are shown a "defect" (of incompleteness) in the perfect world before the second account of man's creation. The thoughtful listener will in each of these cases find an indication of purpose. Just as the woman, for example was made for the purpose of being a helpmeet to man, so the man was made for the purpose of tilling the ground.

    Not that it was the only purpose for which God made mankind. Man was created for the purpose of manifesting the glory of the Creator in many ways. But the specific way in which the creation of the first man is presented in this crucial narrative is that the man was made to meet the need for the cultivation of the garden. (Even in a perfect world, it seems, a garden will become a jungle if it is not tended.) But not only here (2:5) -- but in verse 15 we find the same truth -- "God... put him in the garden to tend and keep it."

    From this I conclude that the proper, basic calling of mankind is the cultivation of the soil. First, Adam and his family were to maintain ("dress and keep") the Garden of Eden in which they had been placed. But in time they were to address the task of bringing out the beauty and utility of plant and animal life throughout the whole world for God's glory and the benefit of mankind. In the original benediction of the first pair, the words "fill the earth and subdue it" show that the uncultivated lands outside the garden were gradually to be brought under cultivation as the human family expanded. The garden was a God-given model or prototype for the rest of the earth.

    The Adamic Benediction and Man's Original Dominion
    This understanding of things is based on the benediction found in Genesis 1:28. The well-known passage in Genesis 1 which relates the creation of man on the sixth day reads as follows:

    26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.


    Now, it is not hard to see that in verse 28, God is not telling Adam, or anyone else, to take over an ungodly society for Christ (as some teach) -- but rather making explicit man's relationship to the lower creation in the time before that terrible event which we call "the fall of man". In this all-too-brief period of innocence, Adam is serving the purpose for which he has been created -- to be God's gardener, a tiller of the ground. God has provided for him and His wife a wedding present -- a home of surpassing beauty, comfort and convenience, made by His own hands with special attention to the needs of the first pair. But the rest of the earth is left in an uncultivated condition.

    Clearly, it has been left for Adam's progeny to make its own place in the un-cursed earth after the pattern of the Garden of God, progressively expanding the actual dominion of man until the whole earth is occupied, and under cultivation. In the historical and literary context, the words, "and subdue it" could have reference to nothing else but to the cultivation of the virgin soil, and the conquest of its wildness for man's ends. The earth was not yet under a curse, and so would offer no resistance to man's efforts, and there was no human opposition to subdue. In any event, this is not a command to subdue the earth, so much as a blessing on man's efforts to do so. (Of which, we will have more to say in a moment.)

    The animals played an important part in the ecology of the garden, and were by these words explicitly declared to be under the authority of Adam. If the birds wanted to eat the berries before man could pick them, presumably Adam had the moral justification to exclude them by whatever means was necessary. Likewise, the cattle could be denied the delicacies of Eve's flower plots. If Adam wanted some muscle to plow his cornfield, he was entitled to yoke oxen, and use their labor as he pleased. He could ride the horses. He was free to use the milk, the honey, and so forth made by other creatures.

    Moreover, this affirmation of man's dominion takes place in connection with a blessing of fertility upon his kind. The words are "And God blessed them, saying…" What he said was then a blessing or benediction-- not a mandate, command, covenant or commission. (Though it has been called all of these things.) The triplet, or double-parallelism "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" is used for rhetorical effect. God is going to bless Adam with an exceedingly great number of descendants. This is more in keeping with the language of a promise than of a command. The verb used, furthermore, is not "take dominion", but "have dominion". It was not something to be attained, but something freely granted as God spoke the words.

    This is not to say that the words are not a revelation of the will and law of God for mankind. They do reveal the natural order that God established for man and the lower creatures. To affirm that they are a benediction rather than a command has to do rather with the form in which God has revealed his will here. It also sheds light on how the words are to be interpreted, and on what that will is -- specifically that man's chief and central occupation is to be farming.

    A further proof that these words contain a benediction rather than a mandate is found in the fact that nearly identical words are used in the immediately-preceding context with respect to creatures that could not have understood them at all -- much less have been obligated to obedience by them. They make sense only if understood as a benediction in this case:

    21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. (Genesis 1:22)


    This benediction is repeated at the inauguration of the "new creation" after the great flood:

    And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

    And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. (Genesis 9:1,2)


    The scope of the benediction (And God blessed Noah … and said…") is otherwise the same, giving Noah and his many descendants dominion over the animals, but with this notable difference: the animals will now have to fear for their lives, for they will be food for man in accommodation to the scarcity of vegetarian food caused by the ruin of the earth's surface and the destruction of its precious topsoil.

    When the original economy of the world is alluded to in the eighth Psalm, it is once again quite clear what it is that God conferred on Adam, and what the proper scope of his authority is:

    6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:6-8)


    Again, the Adamic Benediction would have been understood by Adam as a blessing on him and on his progeny as they engage in the culture of the soil outside the garden. He did not need to be told to multiply, or to lay the earth under cultivation; he would have known to do this out of godly self-interest. Every species of living thing naturally pursues its own interests.

    Neither does this benediction have in its purview our ungodly Technological Society, although the development and use of tools of all kinds is implied (God needs no tools to plant a garden, but man does). These words of Divine blessing would have been understood as having reference to Adam's place and role in the world as a tiller of the ground. The development of machines as a means of enslavement and conquest would never have occurred to him. The false ideal of technological "progress" for its own sake had not yet arisen.

    The original dominion of mankind was a peaceful dominion. Even the lives of the animals were safe, for Adam and his wife were explicitly given a vegetarian diet, as were the wild "beasts of the field". There is no reason to assume that Adam's dominion included the right to kill, anymore than man's headship over his family contemplates that possibility. No doubt it included the right to breed them for desirable traits, to restrain them (fencing), to train and work some of them and to use their products (milk, honey, wool, horn).

    We have seen what was the original calling of man, in the period of innocence. Now let us consider what Scipture teaches about man's calling in the period subsequent to the fall.

    After the Fall
    Man served God for a brief time in a state of innocence. But this idyllic state was not to endure. Sin entered in, and death by sin. The first indication that man's relationship with the world had been sadly altered was the curse on the ground. No more was the ground to "bring forth abundantly" the food of man. Whereas man had had a daily feast of rich fruits, he was to be reduced to eating the food designed for animals:"...and you shall eat the herb of the field."(3:18b) The ground was henceforth only to yield its increase reluctantly.

    The second indication of a dreadful change in the fabric of the world was the covering that God made for them -- "tunics of skins"(3:21). Animals had been killed, sacrificed for man's sake. But not yet by man -- God was the first shedder of blood. Permission to eat flesh was not granted until after the deluge had wrecked the earth's productive capacity, and that vegetable diet that the world had always known in abundance before had become scarce.

    The third indication that man's relation to the world had changed was the ejection from paradise. Man was not worthy to remain in the beautiful house God had built for him. The cherubim and the flaming sword were to remind him that there was to be no way back. Paradise was to be left to decay, rather than house a miscreant. "...therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken." (Genesis 3:23) Once again, the vocation of the man is explicitly stated. His status had altered, his location also -- but not his basic calling.

    What does Scripture say, then, about man's calling in the restored Paradise?

    The great disruption had occurred. The life of the man was no longer easy. His very survival would often be in question. His life, though greatly prolonged, would never reach to a thousand years. More importantly, Adam now had to concern himself with the terms of his new relationship with God. That he had such a relationship is clear. He had a specific promise that his seed would finally destroy the serpent. That this was a promise of redemption in Christ is beyond doubt. It implies all that the Bible teaches regarding the restoration of paradise for the new redeemed humanity through the second Adam.

    Christ our Redeemer is the great theme of Scripture and of human history. Redemption restores creation to its original purposes. In the prophecies of Scripture, God is depicted as reversing the curse, restoring the fruitfulness of the ground. Man is to enjoy the fruits of his labor, and rest in them without molestation. This shows that the vocation of mankind abides unaltered. In the restored paradise, he is a gardener still. God's plan for man has not changed.

    Individual versus Corporate Calling
    Now, let me state an important caveat. To say that man's corporate calling is agriculture is not to say that every individual is called to be a farmer. For God has not limited all men to the identical task, nor given all men the same gifts or aspirations. Godly Abel was a shepherd, and his murderer was a tiller of the ground. The Scripture allows for many vocations, and the division of labor is a sound principle. But the fact remains that the task set for mankind as a whole is to make the earth a fruitful garden. If we specialize in -- for example -- tool-making, it should be to make tools which will help in some way to accomplish the overall task. They may be tools to make clothing, or tools to build houses, or tools to plow the ground or harvest crops. They may be simple hand tools, or the more complex tools that we call "machines". But what gives the specialty legitimacy is that it improves the way that the whole community works together to support the common agricultural enterprise, realizing the God-created potential of the land.

    It ought to be clear that modern man is in rebellion against his God-ordained corporate vocation.

    If as a society we have a different goal than "subduing the earth" in this Biblical sense, then we are in outright corporate rebellion against our Maker. If we are employed in work that undermines this Divine plan, or we are in a legitimate field, but using methods which work against the purpose of God, we are also in rebellion against God. We cannot excuse ourselves by saying "I have to make a living!" God knows how to provide for those who put His purposes ahead of their own earthly interests.

    A Dangerous Course
    In most of human history and over most of the world, man has had no alternative to agriculture. Only in recent times did it occur to us to abandon the ancient norm and leave our food production in the hands of a few specialists. The final cost of this risky experiment has not been measured. But it is clear that we are using and destroying more resources than any generation in history. And it is becoming more obvious that the food produced by mass industrialized cultivation is inferior, unwholesome and sometimes dangerous.

    We have taken a detour from the biblical plan in favor of hedonistic lifestyles and the values of materialism. We have abandoned our calling to exercise godly dominion over the earth, and instead are exercising an ungodly and destructive dominion. Modern man no longer sees himself as God's image, but as God himself! He claims autonomy and sovereignty over the universe. He is making up his own rules as he goes along -- he sees no need for a knowledge of the past. But as a result of our rebellion, we are nearing a crisis, as productive agricultural land becomes scarce.

    If we valued the earth's resources according to their utility in sustaining and enriching our lives, then air and water would be joined in the same class by topsoil. If we honored men according to the value of their contribution to the well-being of society, the farmer would be among the upper classes. This alone shows how upside-down the values of the popular culture are.

    We Americans who have been born since the Second World War have never known hunger, but that is no guarantee that we will not. If God is still the moral governor of the world, then it is all but certain that we shall experience hunger before long -- in spite of our present domination of the world, and in spite of the apparent security which our wealth and influence provide. And it is likely that we will be ourselves the cause of it. For we are on a suicidal course of destroying the productive capacity of the earth.

    G. T. Wrench, in his book, The Restoration of the Peasantry documents the history of Roman agriculture, and shows that mighty Rome could not sustain its agricultural output because the productive lands passed out of the hands of the farmers into the hands of urban moneylenders and thence to the effete aristocracy. Thus, the lands were only an additional source of income to the owners, and not their very lives. They were neglected or else exploited, and soon lost their fertility. Rome relied in the end on North Africa to feed its millions. This is not the only cause of the decline of Rome, but it is one that few are aware of today. We are on a similar course, with multinational corporations and bankers owning most of the productive soil in America, rather than freehold farmers.

    Our Utter Failure as God's Stewards

    Man was made from the ground, and his natural environment is the fertile land and the open air. Nothing can change this -- it is how we are made. Moreover, the Creator gave mankind in the beginning a stewardship over the soil. Coordinate with dominion is responsibility -- a steward is accountable for what he does with his Master's resources. Modern man has failed miserably in this regard, and when he is called to account, he is likely to lose all that he has or ever hopes to have. For history shows nothing even approaching the rate of destruction of productive land that we achieved in the last century, and are continuing apace in this new millennium.

    We have sown the land with death, rather than life. Millions of unexploded bombs and shells and land mines defile the land in the war zones of modernity. In southeast Asia, making prosthetics for people who have stepped on mines is a major industry. How shall we answer to God for this new abomination of desolation?

    We are “making progress“ in other areas, as well. The EPA notwithstanding, pollution continues but slightly abated. The Chesapeake Bay is cursed with an over-abundance of a tiny but deadly creature called physteria, which attacks fish and man. The cause seems to be the runoff from chicken "factories". The chickens live in a cruel captivity out of the fresh air, and their droppings are piled up to compost outside, and then be mixed with cattle feed for extra protein. (Remember that next time you want a hamburger.) The cattle eat it -- they have no choice. But large quantities of the droppings wash into the water and nourish physteria, which are threatening the fishing industry around the bay.

    And what of the productive farmland taken out of use by developers to be paved over to make roads, parking lots, or airports? Or, if not, turned into golf courses, parks or suburban estates, where food will never be produced? What of the so-called "public lands" where private ownership and agriculture are outlawed? And the landfills that leak toxins, farming practices that deplete the soil and kill beneficial microbes, massive erosion, mega-mining, nuclear testing and accidents, large-scale clear-cutting of forests, oil spills -- the list is endless! These things are often condemned, but they go on because of the money behind them. Some people don't care if they kill us all, as long as they can have more -- and ever more -- to waste on their own useless selves.

    Rates of erosion were already high enough in the twenties that our national government took action and formed a bureaucracy to deal with it. Now it is much worse. Whence these unprecedented floods of the great rivers all over the world? It's very simple. Precious soil eroded from the lands cleared but not protected by vegetation fills up the riverbeds, leaving little room for the water that fills them during the rainy seasons. These floods will continue to devastate the lives of millions of the world's peasant farmers, and increase, for each flood carries more soil away -- unless there is drought. Drought is equally destructive -- the soil dries up and blows away.

    What is it going to take for us to abandon this suicidal course? Judgments of God may depopulate the earth and end our capability to destroy. Or a true revival of biblical faith and subsequent reformation may come in the mercy of God, and change man into a preserver and life-giver instead of the most destructive beast on the planet. But something must end it. It is God's earth, after all -- and He will act -- we can be sure of that. Are we going to be on His side then? Or will we be the ones opposing His purpose?

    HDK

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    What do you think about Christian Agrarianism?

    Monday, September 3, 2012

    John Knox would like Legacy High School

    
    I read some of the First Book of Discipline this past weekend which covers the necessity of Christian education to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.  This First Book of Discipline was written in about 1560 by Scottish church reformers which included the influential reformer John Knox. 

    The Book was designed as a blueprint to transform the Scottish church and nation into a society which would be reformed in manners, as well as doctrine,  in other words to guide the development of a Christian nation. These Christian leaders had a positive vision for the future, which was influential in the American colonial times also. Regarding education, the First Book contains a visionary program for Christian education. The authors proposed an extensive system of schools as an essential component of national reformation.

    Below are a few paragraphs to give you a sense of how important Christian education is to the spread of Christianity in a nation, hence, why I think John  Knox would like Legacy High School and classical education."


    From the First Book of Discipline (ref. http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/bod_ch00.htm)

    For the Schools


    Seeing that the office and duty of the godly magistrate is not only to purge the church of God from all superstition, and to set it at liberty from bondage of tyrants; but also to provide, to the uttermost of his power, how it may abide in the same purity to the posterity following; we cannot but freely communicate our judgments with your honours in this behalf.

    The Necessity of Schools


    Seeing that God has determined that his church here in earth shall be taught not by angels but by men; and seeing that men are born ignorant of all godliness; and seeing, also, God now ceases to illuminate men miraculously, suddenly changing them, as that he did his apostles and others in the primitive church: of necessity it is that your honours be most careful for the virtuous education and godly upbringing of the youth of this realm, if either ye now thirst unfeignedly [for] the advancement of Christ's glory, or yet desire the continuance of his benefits to the generation following. For as the youth must succeed to us, so we ought to be careful that they have the knowledge and erudition to profit and comfort that which ought to be most dear to us-to wit, the church and spouse of the Lord Jesus.

    Of necessity therefore we judge it, that every several church have a schoolmaster appointed, such a one as is able, at least, to teach grammar and the Latin tongue, if the town is of any reputation. If it is upland, where the people convene to doctrine but once in the week, then must either the reader or the minister there appointed, take care over the children and youth of the parish, to instruct them in their first rudiments, and especially in the catechism,[10] as we have it now translated in the book of our common order, called the Order of Geneva. And further, we think it expedient that in every notable town, and especially in the town of the superintendent, [there] be erected a college, in which the arts, at least logic and rhetoric, together with the tongues, be read by sufficient masters, for whom honest stipends must be appointed; as also provision for those that are poor, and are not able by themselves, nor by their friends, to be sustained at letters, especially such as come from landward.

    The fruit and commodity hereof shall suddenly appear. For, first, the youth and tender children shall be nourished and brought up in virtue, in presence of their friends; by whose good attendance many inconveniences may be avoided, in the which the youth commonly fall, either by too much liberty, which they have in strange and unknown places, while they cannot rule themselves; or else for lack of good attendance, and of such necessities as their tender age requires. Secondly, the exercise of the children in every church shall be great instruction to the aged.

    Last, the great schools, called universities, shall be replenished with those that are apt to learning; for this must be carefully provided, that no father, of what estate or condition that ever he be, use his children at his own fantasy, especially in their youth; but all must be compelled to bring up their children in learning and virtue.

    The rich and potent may not be permitted to suffer their children to spend their youth in vain idleness, as heretofore they have done. But they must be exhorted, and by the censure of the church compelled, to dedicate their sons, by good exercise, to the profit of the church and to the commonwealth; and that they must do of their own expenses, because they are able. The children of the poor must be supported and sustained on the charge of the church, till trial is taken whether the spirit of docility is found in them or not. If they are found apt to letters and learning, then may they (we mean neither the sons of the rich, nor yet the sons of the poor) not be permitted to reject learning; but must be charged to continue their study, so that the commonwealth may have some comfort by them. And for this purpose must discreet, learned, and grave men be appointed to visit all schools for the trial of their exercise, profit, and continuance: to wit, the ministers and elders, with the best learned in every town, shall every quarter take examination how the youth have profited.

    A certain time must be appointed to reading, and to learning of the catechism; a certain time to the grammar, and to the Latin tongue; a certain time to the arts, philosophy, and to the tongues; and a certain [time] to that study in which they intend chiefly to travail for the profit of the commonwealth. Which time being expired, we mean in every course, the children must either proceed to further knowledge, or else they must be sent to some handicraft, or to some other profitable exercise; provided always, that first they have the form of knowledge of Christian religion: to wit, the knowledge of God's law and commandments; the use and office of the same; the chief articles of our belief; the right form to pray unto God, the number use, and effect of the sacraments; the true knowledge of Christ Jesus, of his office and natures, and such other [points] as without the knowledge whereof, neither deserves [any] man to be named Christian, neither ought any to be admitted to the participation of the Lord's Table. And therefore, these principles ought and must be learned in the youth.

    The Times Appointed to Every Course


    Two years we think more than sufficient to learn to read perfectly, to answer to the catechism, and to have some entry in the first rudiments of grammar; to the full accomplishment whereof (we mean of the grammar) we think another three or four years, at most, sufficient. To the arts-to wit, logic and rhetoric-and to the Greek tongue, four years; and the rest, till the age of twenty-four years, to be spent in that study wherein the learner would profit the church or commonwealth, be it in the laws, or physics or divinity. Which time to twenty-four years being spent in the schools, the learner must be removed to serve the church or commonwealth, unless he is found a necessary reader in the same college or university. If God shall move your hearts to establish and execute this order, and put these things in practice, your whole realm (we doubt not), within few years, shall serve itself of true preachers, and of other officers necessary for your commonwealth.


    ______________

    What do you think as you compare modern public school or Christian schools to this document?

    Monday, August 27, 2012

    Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain


    Our family has recently been discussing the issue of whether or not saying such things as "Oh God," or "Oh my God," or "Jees" and other such phrases is taking the Lord's name in vain, or not. On the same day we heard some discussion among neighbors about this and we were providentially scheduled to read the Heidelberg Catechism about the Third Commandment during our morning devotions.  What do you think about this? Should Christians stay silent when someone is taking the name of the Lord in vain?  We thought the following catechism questions cleared up the matter very quickly.

    LORD'S DAY 36 (Heidelberg Catechism 1563)

    Question 99. What is required in the third commandment?

    Answer: That we, not only by cursing (a) or perjury, (b) but also by rash swearing, (c) must not profane or abuse the name of God; nor by silence or connivance be partakers of these horrible sins in others; (d) and, briefly, that we use the holy name of God no otherwise than with fear and reverence; (e) so that he may be rightly confessed (f) and worshipped by us, (g) and be glorified in all our words and works. (h)

    (a) Lev.24:11 And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the tribe of Dan:) Lev.24:12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be shewed them. Lev.24:13 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Lev.24:14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the congregation stone him. Lev.24:15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. Lev.24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death. (b) Lev.19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD. (c) Matt.5:37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. (d) Lev.5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity. Prov.29:24 Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not. (e) Jer.4:2 And thou shalt swear, The LORD liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory. Isa.45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (f) Rom.10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Rom.10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Matt.10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. (g) Ps.50:15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. 1 Tim.2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. (h) Rom.2:24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. 1 Tim.6:1 Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. Col.3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. Col.3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

    Question 100. Is then the profaning of God's name, by swearing and cursing, so heinous a sin, that his wrath is kindled against those who do not endeavour, as much as in them lies, to prevent and forbid such cursing and swearing?

    Answer: It undoubtedly is, (a) for there is no sin greater or more provoking to God, than the profaning of his name; and therefore he has commanded this sin to be punished with death. (b)

    (a) Prov.29:24 Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not. Lev.5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity. (b) Lev.24:15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. Lev.24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.