Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hello everyone. I have so much to say, I don't know where to start!

Lambing season is well under way. I have had 22 lambs born, and only lost 2 lambs, so I have a total of 20. All but two ewes have had their lambs, so I am almost done. The Lord has certainly blessed me with a wonderful abundant crop of lambs this year.

I have had some nice opportunities to play music recently. On the 30th of March, I played at a church in Powhatan for a Relay for Life fundraiser. I also accompanied Mary singing a song. The lady who was in charge of the program does a lot of things in Powhatan, and my Grandpa has performed at many of her events. I guess he bragged on us, and so she invited us to perform along with my grandfather and several others. The night before, I had the great honor of being able to play a couple of songs with a wonderful band by the name of Willow Branch. They have played at a lot of different places, and have even opened for bands like Tony Rice. The banjo player grew up going to the church my dad pastors, and his dad still attends, so we have met then. They do a show at their church every year, and they invited me to get up and play a couple of songs with them. I went to their house before hand and we went over the songs a time or two. They are such a great band, that we did a song I wrote, that they had never heard, and played breaks to it and all, just like they had played it many times before. I did two with them. The first was "Hallelujah I'm Ready to Go", a rather popular bluegrass gospel tune. However, I messed up the lyrics and sang the second/last verse first, and the first verse second. I don't think anybody noticed though. I have found that the key to putting on a good performance is not not making any mistakes, but not letting anyone no that you made a mistake. Even if you do make one, people will laugh it off with you. You can see/hear a whole set by  Willow branch here. They did some of these songs the night I played with them, but they have a different guitar player now. Over all it was a great privilege to be able to do that, and it will certainly be one of the highlights of my life.

I came across these sermons by Voddie Baucham and another pastor on the subject of government in the Bible, looking at Romans 13. I have been pondering what all he said, and I agreed with most of it. Papa listened to them too, and we had some discussion on it, and here is the conclusion we came to. First off, one thing I agree with whole heartily, and think was well pointed out, is that we should not, in any situation, have a rebellious, riotous, or disrespectful attitude. Also, when we are called to do something (such as pay taxes), that the government commands, we should do so without grumbling and complaining. This can be hard (as I have learned this year when paying my taxes), but the Bible says to do all things without grumbling and complaining, so this does apply to things like taxes as well. The biggest thing I had trouble with was the subject of when it is right to rebel against authority. He mentioned that just as a child should submit to his parents authority, or a wife to her husband's, or a man to the church's, we should submit to the authority of the government, as we are submitting to God, who put the authority there, by proxy. Just as a wife should submit to her husband despite how much of a jerk he may be (to a certain extent of course), we should submit to the government despite how bad they may be. This made a lot of sense, but the biggest challenge is finding where the line is, on when we should resist the government's authority, and when we should not. This is the conclusion we came to. As Mr. Baucham stated in the sermons, there are various different ways we can respond to government authority. There is submission, appealing, defying, confronting, and fleeing. The challenge comes in trying to find out which one we do in which situation. Many people say that we should do what the government says, unless they are calling us to do or not do something that God forbids or commands. I am not exactly sure where Mr. Baucham stands on this, but I believe it is more complicated than just this. Different situations and different people, calls for different responses. I think there are other things out there worth fighting for other than just those thing which God has commanded. For example, have you been following the Cliven Bundy story? It is all over the Internet. He is a Rancher in Nevada who has refused to take his cattle of of public land that his family has been grazing since the 1870s. The laws have changed to where he is not supposed to graze them there anymore, so since the group of people he was paying to lease the land are regulating him out of business, he decided to stop paying them altogether. Federal agents have been staked out all over the ranch, preparing to round up his cattle and sell them. There has been  riots and all kinds of uproar from the population saying that the federal government coming into Nevada and seizing public land is unconstitutional, and unjust. It looks as though it has worked as the government has backed off and are going to let him continue to use the land. Mr. Bundy does not seem to be a riotous trouble maker, he is just a rancher (father of 14 with 48 grandchildren too by the way), who wants to let the public know about what is happening and wants to stand up for the constitution, and the liberty that our fore fathers died for. The Bible doesn't say that we are supposed to graze our cattle on public land, so many Christians, if they are consistent, would say that he should just submit to government authority, and take his cows off the land. This man is the last rancher in his county, and if he can not graze the public lands, he would be out of business. If he were to just submit to the authorities, then no one would know about this, and people would be just as blind to the government's abuse of power as before. I must confess I knew nothing of these things happening out west. Did you? I think that different situations call for different things. We live in a country where we have the opportunity to appeal to government. We can try to change laws that are in place, though it is very hard to do with the complex and corrupt system that we have. Sometimes doing this is the best option. Sometimes we are best to just obey the laws and submit. Just because we don't like the government, doesn't give us a good reason to drive over the speed limit on a road just to make a point. Sometimes we need to confront authority and tell them what they are doing wrong. At times, in order to make an impression, or simply to do what is right, we must defy the authority like Cliven Bundy. And sometimes, if there is somewhere better, the best thing to do is flee. I read a very good article comparing the story of the Bundy Ranch, with Naboth's vineyard. It is not real long, so I recommend reading it here.

Well, I think that is all I will say today.

Thanks for reading!

- Graham

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stewardship

I have been thinking recently about the idea of stewardship, and the ramifications of it on my life. As a farmer, stewardship hits pretty close to home, as caring for the land is a large part of what I do. Sometimes I look at what I am doing on the farm, and feel like I am not doing enough, or that I am not successful, but as I have thought about it more, I have realized that I am not focusing on the right thing. I don't think God calls us to do more than what we can with what he has given us. Certainly, as we can see in the parable of the talents, God wants us to work hard and try to develop a greater abundance with what He has entrusted to us (knowing while we do so, that it is Him who gives the increase), but He doesn't ask us to do more than what He has provided for us. Notice in the parable that both the man given the 5 talents, and the man given the 2 talents, were rewarded even though they did not gain the same amount, since they both had the same increase. Often I look at how little money I am making on the farm, or how I have a long way to go to be able to make a living at it, and I feel like I am not successful. However, though it is wise to plan ahead and think about the future, I don't need to worry and fret over it, but instead need to focus on being a good steward of what I do have. There are plenty of things that I can improve on with the little bit of farm I do have, and if I am faithful with this, I can count on God to provide for my needs. He says not to worry about tomorrow, so I should trust Him to provide for me. But we need to realize that God is ultimately in control and may have other plans for our life, but whatever may happen to us, our job is to be a faithful servant to Him. God will do His part, so let us not worry about that, but instead, focus on giving our all to do what God has planned for us.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Some Thoughts

Hello everyone. I thought I would mention a few things I have been reading/thinking about recently. For my birthday last year I received an "Evidence Bible", which is a study Bible, with the commentaries by Ray Comfort. It has a lot of nice quotes, witnessing tips, apologetics, etc., along with Scripture it's self. When reading it the other day, I came across some interesting quotes about humanism. Here they are: 

"I think that the most important factor moving us toward a secular society has been the educational factor. Our schools may not teach Johnny how to read properly, but the fact that Johnny is in school until he is sixteen tends toward the elimination of religious superstition. The average American child now acquires a high school education, and this militates against Adam and Eve and all other myths of alleged history." [P. Blanchard, "Three Cheers for Our Secular State," The Humanist]

"Education is thus a most powerful ally of humanism. What can a theistic Sunday school's meeting for an hour once a week and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of the five day program of humanistic teaching?" [Humanism: A New Religion, 1930]

"Fundamental parents have no right to indoctrinate their children in their beliefs. We are preparing their children for the year 2000 and life in a global one-world society, and those children will not fit in." [Senator Paul Hoagland, 1984]

"Give me your four year olds, and in a generation I will build a socialist state." [Valdimir Lenin]

Interesting quotes huh? It just goes to show that the public school system is not an objective, educational system, that only exists to teach children the fundamentals of learning and of knowledge, separate from religion, but instead is pushing out their own set of subjective ideals. Humanism is a religion. The Merriam-Webster's Dictionary gives the definition of humanism as: "a system of values and beliefs that is based on the idea that people are basically good and that problems can be solved using reason instead of religion". Though the definition claims that they try to solve problems with reason instead of religion, I would say that a "system of values and beliefs" suggests that it is indeed a religion itself. Christianity says that man is not basically good, but in actuality, definitely bad, and therefore, it would make sense that a philosophy that is the opposite of this concept, would also be a religion. We can tell by these quotes, that humanists have no desire for people to be free thinkers, but want them to be submissive to the humanistic systems that are in place. We can also see that the current norm in Christian churches isn't going to help. As the second quote says, an hour in church every Sunday will not make a difference, when there are hours and hours of teaching in the schools, of humanistic principals. We must also be careful of folks like the senator mentioned, who believe parents have no right to teach their children certain beliefs. That is the only way the world will change. We must raise up faithful servants to Christ, who can go out and fight against sin, so that the gates of Hell cannot prevail. Andrew Pudewa, in a talk he gave at the HEAV convention last year, stated that the Biblical idea of the gates of Hell not prevailing, implies that there must be a battle. Otherwise, how can they have the chance to not prevail, if there is no fight? Therefore we must always be raising up a generation of soldiers to fight for the cause of Christ. I have been really blessed to be raised in a family with a father who is willing to teach us biblical truths, and parents that have chosen to homeschool me. I believe that these two things are the only way we can raise up an army that can go out into the world and make a change. Of course, we can also add to the kingdom by preaching the gospel, but this takes warriors as well. Ultimately, we need to remember that we are to do our part to plant the seed, and let God give the increase. 

I have been reading some American documents, and was reading Lincolns first inaugural address. I found it quite interesting that he did not condemn slavery, or say that he had any desire to do anything to free slaves in states that had them. He said: "Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that—
I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." 
So we have two options here. We can assume that he was just trying to appease the southerners, and lied to them, all the while meaning to free the slaves, or he really did not have any intention of freeing them. If the first is true, than he is no different from the politicians today, and is simply a glorified liar, and the name "Honest Abe"is not consistent with his person, and in the latter, he is not the loving, slavery hating, ethical leader he is typically portrayed as. You simply cannot argue with this, as it is his own words, not an opinion of another. Before I go on let me say that I hate slavery. I hate it as a Christian, and as a libertarian, and am very glad that slavery no long exists (other then slavery to other things such as the government, entertainment, debt, sin, etc.) in this country. However, even if the war was about slavery (which I doubt is totally accurate), the ends don't justify the means. Even though someone may have become a  Christian after almost dying by being hit by a car, that does not mean that we should go around running people over with our vehicles and tossing the victims a gospel tract. Anyway, what this passage teaches us is that we must look straight to the source if we want to find the truth. People may talk about all of the "mistakes" in the Bible for instance, but chances are they do not know what mistakes they are talking about, because they have not read the Bible. All they know is what they have been told by others. This is why we can believe the Bible to be true, because it was written (for the most part) by eyewitnesses. We should always look straight to the source for the information we believe. Another example of this would be food. Many people, including myself, are big fans of pastured, all-natural, type food. This is wonderful, and I believe the food is much healthier, but I do think there are some misunderstandings about the industrial food system as well. If I were to ask most people who buy local, pasture raised pork, why they do so, one reason, among other things, would probably be because they want pigs that haven't been given lots of antibiotics. I have a friend in who lives close by, and on his farm he raises hogs for a Smithfield subsidiary called Murphy Brown. He has three hog houses on his farm, each housing 1000 hogs at a time. This is obviously an industrial system, but as my friend tells me, the pigs are not fed, or given routine antibiotics, unless certain animals get sick, or a problem occurs. He says that he has probably not fed medicated feed to his hogs for 2 years. Obviously animals will get sick from time to time, and when you have 3000 of any animal, the chances are quite high that you will have some losses. He is perfectly open to showing people inside of his houses, and would probably let any one of you inside, assuming you were not going to make him look bad. Murphy Brown seems to be open about what they do as well, and I am pleased to see this. You can watch videos about how they do things on their website here. Obviously there are things missing in hogs that come out of a systems like this. The pigs have not had much sunlight, and are on concrete, which I am sure makes them less healthy then if they had been raised outside in the fresh air where they could root around, and they are not fed GMO-free or Organic feed, but we must remember that they are catering to a market that demands cheap food, and if is true that you indeed get what you pay for, you will, more than likely, get a lower quality product. I am sure that not everyone treats their hogs as well as my friend, and since you do not know who's pork you are getting when you go to the store, this can be a major flaw in the system. I say all of this to show that the closer to the source we can get, the more of the truth we can find, whether it be truth in the scriptures, in politics, food, or wherever else, we must try to look at the source not someone else's interpretation.

Well I guess that is all for today. Papa is at the airport and heading over to Ireland with his dad and brother. Since the Donahues are of Irish ancestry, and my grandpa has an interest on genealogy, for his 70th birthday, he is going on a trip with his two sons. I think they will be having a great time. It is only a week long trip (including air travel) so they should be pretty busy, but I am sure they will have a great time none-the-less. I'm sure they would appreciate your prayers while they travel.

Thanks for reading!

-Graham

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hello everyone. I haven't posted much recently, so I thought I would do a quick update about all that I have been doing recently. I got my official drivers' license on the 7th! Or, should I say, my parents got it. The court system stressed the point that it is not legally "mine" until I turn 18. That way parents can take the license away if they see it fit to do so. That doesn't bother me though. It is not like my parents are concerned about me going out too late at night and partying or something! But, getting my license is a great milestone in my life, and will serve to be quite handy.

The farm is starting to pick up the pace. The hens are starting to lay more eggs now, which is good. This is probably due to the longer daylight hours. Our first batch of broilers is due to arrive next week, so it will be time to gear up for that. I was able to sell all of my lambs from this year whole, so that was a great blessing. A lady who organizes a Weston A. Price chapter, contacted me and said she had quite a few people interested in lamb. It worked out that with her and her group, along with a couple of other folks we know, I was able to sell all 9 of the lambs. It was a real blessing. Most of the time I have to take lambs to a USDA processing plant in Harrisonburg. They do a very nice job, and have great pricing, but it is a long drive there, and it is a pain to have to go there. When I sell the lambs whole and in halves, I can take them to the local butcher and therefore save time, money, and support local business. So this was a great blessing!

We had quite a pile of snow last week! We got about 8 inches. The snow is pretty to look at, and is good for the soil, but otherwise, I don't like it. The chickens stayed crowded to tight in their coop, the sheep stayed up in the corner of their paddock, and doing chores, was tricky. But I guess that is what is to be expected in the winter time. Most of the snow is gone now, and it has been warm the last few days, so that has been nice. The younger kids had a lot of fun sledding, so I guess the snow is good for that as well.

As far as music goes, I have been working on various things. I read a book about the Carter Family called "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone," named after one of their songs by the same title. While reading the book I really got interested in Maybelle Carter's guitar style. She created a style of playing melodies on the bass strings of the guitar with her thumb, while playing a "scratch" like motion on the higher strings, creating a sound that worked quite well all by itself, without accompaniment. She says she created the style because she didn't usually have anyone to play with, so she needed a way to fill out her style. This style, usually referred to as the "Carter Scratch," has become quite popular among bluegrass, folk, old-time, and country musicians. I had been doing this previous to reading the book, but used a flatpick, instead of my thumb and finger. Most people try to teach her style of playing using a flatpick, but you simply cannot get the same sound that she got, without using  your thumb and index finger. So I started to try and play it her way, and found it to be quite efficient, but I did not get the same rhythm sound I like to get with a flatpick so I searched around and found this. It is a SharkTooth Crossover pick. It slips over your thumb and holds a flatpick, turning your favorite flatpick (or the one that comes with the device) into a thumb pick. You can switch between flatpick style or thumb pick style within a song, without having to change picks. It works quite well, and I have been very pleased. If you are a guitar player who plays both finger style and flatpicking style, I highly recommend these. Or if you play with a flatpick and have a problem of it dropping. I ordered mine from this place. They come in a pack of 2. Here is a video of Maybelle Carter playing her signature style, on a song made famous by the Carter family, that is still one of the most popular tunes learned by guitar players in the bluegrass, folk, country, and old-time music genres. It is called "Wildwood Flower". She is being backed by the band "Flatt and Scruggs" in the video, but shows a good close up of her playing style. You can also hear what her style sounded like by itself here.

Well, I don't have much more to say today. Once the farm starts picking up more, I suppose there will be more to talk about though.

Thanks for reading!

-Graham

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Happy Birthday Samuel!

Samuel turned 13 today! I cannot believe I have a teenage brother now. Anyway, be sure to wish him a happy birthday.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Mary!

This sweet little girl turned 6 today! Be sure to wish her a happy birthday!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Love the Sin Hate the Sinner?

   

This is a funny but true video. I thought I would share it!



Enjoy!



Graham