No-Dig Layered (Lasagna) Gardening (Part 1)

Over the last 28 years, we have, year after year, tilled, amended and planted our 60×60 garden plot.  You can imagine what a chore it has always been to try to produce/find/buy enough organic material to keep a plot of that size arable.  We have been losing the battle for the past five years or so.  Our heavy clay soil kept getting harder and harder to work with.  It was like trying to grow plants in cement.

I knew we needed to do something differently.  Not only was the soil depleted, but WE were depleted.  We’re not youngsters anymore and the labor was getting too intensive for us.  Enter “No-Dig” gardening.  It’s one of those things that made us look at each other and say, “Why haven’t we always done it this way?”.

The theory behind no-dig gardening is pretty simple.  Start by laying down a layer of cardboard, to kill weeds.  Then, layer different organic materials on top of the cardboard to create a fluffy, moist, nutrient rich growing environment for your plants.  It’s kind of like making compost right in your garden rows instead of a pile somewhere and then planting directly into it.  Let me tell you – it works.

Last year, we experimented with a couple of no-dig garden rows and, wow.  The plants literally jumped out of the soil.  It’s the most productive, healthy garden we have grown in many, many years.  I’m hooked for life.

I want to introduce you to the no-dig method and then take you through the steps we have been taking to create our garden beds this year.  I will start with a video from a group called Stewards of the Earth that will show you, step-by-step, how to create a layered, no-dig bed.  It’s so easy and you can create your bed and plant with about one hour’s worth of work all in one day.

For more information and videos, please visit their website:  No Dig Gardening

It is just as easy and productive as it looks.  In Part 2, I will show you how we have incorporated this technique into our garden this year.  This has literally changed the way we grow food and we anticipate the most productive gardens we’ve ever been blessed to grow this year.  God is so wonderful in the way He has designed His earth!

Happy Gardening!


The Casualties of Political War


We are, once again, roiling in the midst of an election year.  I dread them every time they come around, and more so with each successive political season.  I cringe each time I open my Facebook account, preparing myself for the onslaught of snarky memes that normally amicable Facebook friends hurl at those on the opposite side of the political playing field from themselves.  And, most of it coming from professing Christians!  I understand the passion felt by my fellow believers on so many important issues, I truly do, and I have no problem posting stories or memes that are meant to be informative or thought provoking.  It’s the level of anger and vituperation exhibited by so many that I find increasingly alarming.  I fear, in the political melee, grace is being trampled underfoot and the fragrance of the Savior we should be wearing gives way to the sweaty smell of partisan combat.  I agree wholeheartedly with author Philip Yancey’s sentiments expressed in his wonderful book, What’s So Amazing About Grace?:

When I ask my airplane seatmates, “What comes to mind when I say the words, ‘evangelical Christian’?” they usually respond in political terms.  Yet, the gospel of Jesus was not primarily a political platform.  In all the talk of voting blocs and culture wars, the message of grace – the main distinctive Christians have to offer – tends to fall aside.  It is difficult, if not impossible, to communicate the message of grace from the corridors of power.  (1)

As a case in point, a story that hit the news today really brought this home for me.  A political ad put out by the Ted Cruz campaign was quickly pulled off the airwaves when it was discovered that one of the actresses in the commercial has previously appeared in pornographic movies.  Apparently, they didn’t want Mr. Cruz’ good name and reputation besmirched by any kind of association with “that kind of woman”.  How ridiculous. I don’t know anything about this woman, but I can guarantee the message that she received was loud and clear – the openly Christian candidate had to distance himself from her lest he be defiled by her sinful behavior.  This is the polar opposite of grace and the way his Savior would have behaved toward her.  As we all well know, Jesus had no problem associating with sinners of all sorts, reputation be hanged!  This woman, a precious soul for whom Jesus gave His life, was made to feel untouchable and judged in the name of political expediency.  Politics trumped grace.*

My brothers and sisters, as you navigate the daily minefield of election year rhetoric and propaganda, please remember that, no matter what political views a person might hold, they are first and foremost a soul, with a heart and feelings, whom your Lord loves very much.  What is more important – that you make sure they know what an idiot they are for their political views, or that they know there is a God in heaven who cares for them?  As a believer, you will paint a picture for a watching world about who your God is.  I pray that picture looks like Jesus.

Elections will come and go.  Presidents will come and go.  Great civilizations rise and fall.  Only the Kingdom of God will last forever.  Let’s win others to the side of our King because, in the end, He is the only one that will really matter.

(1) What’s So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancy, Zondervan, 1997

*Please note, this is not meant to be taken as any kind of knock on Ted Cruz as a candidate or any kind of a political statement for or against any particular candidate.  The story just made for a good illustration.

The Image of Heaven

Fall homestead

What a beautiful, perfect autumn day it is today!  Looking out my front window, I wanted to share this glorious scene with everyone, so I took the picture above.  I was so disappointed in the result.  I simply could not capture the brilliance of the light shining through the last few maple leaves, the autumn blue of the sky, the soft contrast of shadow and light on the grass.  It’s not just that I have crummy resolution on my little IPhone 4, it’s that an image can never fully convey the glory of the original.

I have been reading the book Imagine Heaven by John Burke and, wow, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  In its pages, he weaves the stories of people who have had a near death experience and visited heaven (or other places) with the scriptures that paint an astonishingly similar picture of what those people saw.  The center of it all, the “highlight of heaven”, is Jesus Christ Himself, King of kings, clothed in light and communicating a love for these people beyond anything they could have ever imagined.

One passage that particularly had an impact on me said this:

The forty different writers of the Scriptures have revealed a consistent picture of Heaven’s super-reality.  God even had Israel build an earthly copy of a heavenly reality. “[Earthly priests] serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in Heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain'”(Hebrews 8:5, emphasis mine). Randy Alcorn notes, “The verses in Hebrews suggest that God created Earth in the image of Heaven, just as he created mankind in his image.” (1)

Did you catch that? God created earth in the image of heaven, just as He created man in His image.  Wow! Mind blown!  Doesn’t that just ring true to the bottom of your soul?  Of course!  Heaven isn’t some ethereal, fluffy, cloudy realm where we endlessly float with harps – it is all the beautiful, amazing, glorious things we love about this creation, times infinity!  And the people who were blessed with this glimpse of heaven and came back to tell about it all confirm this truth.  Colors beyond description, iridescent, light-filled grass, flowers and trees, indescribable skies, and all of it illuminated not by the sun, but by the light of Jesus Himself.

Solomon said that God has “…set eternity in the human heart” (Eccl. 3:11).  Those of us who have met Christ and become His adoring followers can attest to this fact.  We yearn for something beyond this world – a place, a  home, where we can see Him face to face and never be parted from Him.  This is what awaits us at the end of our journey through this world that has (temporarily) become enemy territory.  This is why, even among unbelievers, no matter what men and women may achieve, they always seem to long for more.  As Augustine so aptly put it: “Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.

This earth, as awe-inspiring and breathtaking as it is, is only an image, a taste, of the home that God has prepared for those who love Him.  And, He wants everyone to come and live there with Him!  He continues to go to incredible lengths to reach out to even the most hard-hearted.  The point of it all is LOVE – His love for us.  He wants us to love others as He has loved us, so that they too can come to live in that indescribably beautiful home He has prepared for us.  That is your purpose in life – love others with His love.  You can do that no matter who you are or where you live.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.…

John 14:2-3

(1) Imagine Heaven by John Burke, Baker Books Publishing, Copyright 2015

The Gentle Mothers of Christmas

Mary & Elizabeth

Ancient Nazareth was a tiny, insignificant village perched 1300 feet high in the Galilean Hills of northern Israel. It was far removed from the trade route, which snaked through the Megiddo valley below. Archaeologists have estimated that as few as 150 to no more than 300 people lived there in the first century A.D. It is highly likely that those who did live in Nazareth were mostly extended family from the tribe of Judah, David’s clan, who had settled there after returning from the exile in Babylon.
Life in this rural town was a quiet, pastoral existence. Small, squarish, stone dwellings nestled into the hills on the southeastern slope of the Nazareth ridge. The hillsides were terraced for the growing of crops, which would sustain the entire community. There is evidence that grapes, olives and wheat were grown there. At harvest time, the whole town was expected to turn out to do their part in gathering and processing the produce.
Animals were highly valued and either kept in a community stall, or a special room built right into the family dwelling. Donkeys, sheep and goats were counted among the herds to provide labor, milk and wool. Milk mostly came from the sheep and goats. Much of it was fermented for a yogurt like food, or made into cheese.
Most homes had a cistern for collecting rainwater, which was abundant in Nazareth by Middle Eastern standards. However, there was also a well located on the northern end of town (now aptly named Mary’s Well) from which most of the town’s occupants collected their daily water. I’m sure Mary made the trip to this well countless times.
A young woman’s day would have been occupied with the labors that were essential for a family’s welfare. The daily bread was baked. This involved grinding flour or barley in the stone mill, and then mixing it with water and a lump of leaven saved from the previous day’s baking. It was then shaped into the familiar round “bible” loaves, taken out to the courtyard oven and thrown against the wall to bake. When done, it would fall off the wall into the ashes below.
There was the spinning and weaving which had to be done. This was extremely time consuming work. The wool was cleaned and carded (combed out) and then spun into yarn using a drop spindle, or simply rolled on the thigh. The weaving was done on a wooden two-beam loom, many times kept on the roof in good weather.
Most people never ventured far from their village. We know from the biblical record that Mary and Joseph made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem every year for Passover. That (and that trip to Bethlehem, of course!) was probably the extent of Mary’s travels during her entire lifetime. Day by day, week by week, year by year – life rarely strayed from this subsistent routine.
And then there was Elizabeth. She was from the daughters of Aaron, of the priestly line, as was her husband Zacharias. We know that they lived in the hill country, in a “city of Judah”. The Judean Hills were tree covered and full of wildflowers in the spring. In the summer the stony ground is barren and sun browned.
Having no children and being of an advanced age, Elizabeth would have nonetheless lived with the same daily routine of cooking, baking and working with her hands that Mary did. Perhaps, being closer to the city of Jerusalem, she might have had access to the street markets and shops, especially when her husband was performing his course of service in the Temple.
It was into these two women’s seemingly unremarkable lives that the angel Gabriel blazed. The message to Mary from Almighty God was that she was “highly favored”. Elizabeth we are told was “… righteous in the sight of God… ” How amazing that these lives spent performing the humblest of domestic tasks could result in such high praise from God.
We all know their stories so well. The day these two blessed women met – the prophet leaping in the womb of his mother at Mary’s greeting. Mary’s psalm of praise as the Spirit filled her with His transcendent joy:
“My soul doth magnify the Lord
and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He hath regarded the low estate of his
For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall
call me blessed.
For He that is mighty hath done to me great things;
and holy is His name.”
Luke 1:46-49
T he Spirit of God revealed to her that her name would be known for all generations to come. And, so it is.
However, there was a life before these mighty things, and a life to be lived afterward as well. Mary herself said she was of “low estate”. Not rich, nor of high standing – just a young woman from a small village living an ordinary life. Elizabeth, too, had no claim to fame, nothing to set her apart, except for the heartbreaking reality of her barrenness. In those times, a woman in such condition felt considerably set apart, as I am sure many do in our day as well.
But, the Lord was watching. He observed them as they went about their work and coped with the realities of day-to-day existence. They may not have been known to the world, but they were known to their God and precious in His sight. He saw the attitude of their hearts.
It occurs to me that these women were chosen to receive such miracles not only for how they would handle the supernatural events, but also how they would deal with the return to the mundane. For, in between the angelic visitation and the wedding at Cana, there were a whole lot of ordinary days in which ordinary things had to be done. And, the Lord had confidence in these ladies that they would not be carried away by it all. In fact, we are told that Mary “treasured all these things in her heart”, keeping them to herself.
We all can look back over the course of our Christian lives and pinpoint certain events that stand out – moments when heaven and earth seemed to meet as the Lord performed some mighty deed on our behalf. But, mostly, our lives are filled with the daily obligations and duties inherent to the life of a home-centered woman. Unnoticed, many times unrecognized even by those closest to us. Yet, we know our God is watching.
Along with that, I wonder… .I wonder if our story is being “read” even as we live it. After recording the feats of the great heroes of faith in Hebrews 11, the writer makes this intriguing statement in chapter 12:1:
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of
witnesses surrounding us…let us run with endurance
the race set before us.”
This brings to mind the great Roman arenas wherein the “witnesses” would sit and watch the races being run by those on the field. Just as we are so familiar with these stories from the Word of God, are those who have gone before us also watching our stories unfold?
You may be a mother, like Mary, or waiting on motherhood, like Elizabeth. Maybe you are a young woman, just starting the journey of wifehood and motherhood, or in a later season of life. Your days probably run one into the other, with cooking, cleaning and caring for your loved ones. How can we make a difference for the Lord in this world with such a life?
Remember, it is what is in our hearts that our God is observing. Do we praise Him amidst all the simple things? Are we thankful in the humblest of circumstances? For this is the kind of heart the Lord seeks, and with a heart like that, the Mighty One can do great things through you, too.

The colored sunsets & starry heavens, the beautiful
mountains and the shining seas, the fragrant woods
and painted flowers are not half so beautiful as a
soul that is serving Jesus out of love in the wear and
tear of common, unpoetic life ~ Faber

From the November/December 2006 issue of New Harvest Homestead. For more, order the New Harvest Homestead anthology!

Intentional Silence


When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.

Proverbs 10:19

Obviously, I haven’t posted here in a while.  I just haven’t felt like saying anything, you know?  There are so many blogs out there, along with the various social media outlets.  Everyone is talking all the time!  Everyone has something deeply significant and important to say about everything.  And, sometimes, I feel like – why add my two cents?  It will get lost in the sea of words.  How much can our brains hold, anyway?

I don’t mean to sound negative.  I hope I am saying out loud what many of you are thinking and feeling inwardly.  Whenever something good, bad or ugly happens, we are all supposed to start sharing our hearts out about it.  We are all supposed to have super wise words and very meaningful thoughts about everything.  The shooting in Oregon, Russia getting into the war in Syria, the abortion videos from CMP, the presidential race and on and on.  Don’t get me wrong, I care about all of this, deeply.  But, I hesitate to jump in and immediately speak my mind on issues right away.  Or ever, sometimes.  A lot of times, I don’t know what to say.

Oh, I used to.  Back in my 30’s and early 40’s, I had incredible wisdom to impart on a wide variety of topics.  You couldn’t shut me up.   When I think back on a lot of the things I wrote and said, I want to cringe.  Words blathered out of my mouth or through my keyboard before my brain even had a chance to engage.  I didn’t have the discipline or maturity to “treasure up all these things and ponder them” in my heart, like Mary. (Luke 2:19)  You can’t take that stuff back once it’s out there.  Words are powerful.

What we may come to find when we have quickly spouted out an opinion is that we didn’t quite think it all the way through.  Someone makes a good point that we hadn’t thought of, and we have to back track.  Or worse, we know we were wrong or uninformed, but can’t admit it, so we dig in.  This causes untold strife between believers and non-believers alike.  Unnecessary strife.

Years ago, after sticking my foot in my mouth one too many times, the Lord lead me into a season of intentional silence. I stuck Ephesians 4:29 on my wall and endeavored to strictly limit my speech for one week.  This wasn’t just about refraining from negative or sinful words, it included words that were simply unnecessary and/or unhelpful.  So, not only did I refrain from complaining, arguing, gossiping, etc., but I also realized there was no good reason on this earth to comment on the Fox News lady’s hairdo.  If my words are of no benefit to anyone, they need not be spoken.

This was both difficult and incredibly humbling.  It brought into stark relief the continual river of prattle that had been issuing forth from my lips.  My unusual quietness alarmed (and secretly delighted?) my husband. It was a huge wake-up call.  It was very hard and deeply rewarding.

What I unexpectedly discovered was, as I remained literally quiet, my soul grew more and more spiritually quiet.  That elusive “gentle and quiet spirit” Peter spoke of began to actually take shape in me.  Who knew?  Without the constant dredging up of words from the storm within, the storm grew calm.

I want to challenge all of you (you knew this was coming, right?).  Pick out a definite starting date, mark it on your calendar and embark on a “quiet week”.  Do not let one word pass your lips unless it is necessary, encouraging, wholesome and beneficial.  No matter WHAT happens, whatever crisis may occur either in your personal life or in the world, remain quiet unless it is absolutely necessary that you speak.  Ponder things in your heart, like Mary.  Talk things over inwardly with the Lord.  Just don’t talk out loud (or through your keyboard).

I would love to hear the results from those of you brave enough to try this.  I promise, it will be an eye-opening (and mouth-closing) spiritual experience.

For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

James 3:2

Love, Lisa

Of Tarnished Harvest Sheaves

Wheat harvest

Uncle Bud, Aunt Sue, and their children regularly attended services at the Baptist church in the small Missouri community in which they lived.  At special functions men and women of the congregation were invited to “share of themselves,” which meant singing an old-time hymn, reading a bit of inspiring poetry, or speaking.

One late fall Sunday in 1936, much to Auntie’s surprise, Uncle Bud stood up and told the preacher and the congregation that he had something he wanted to say.  Without preamble, he spoke of the helpless, the widows and orphans, old folk, the sick, the tragedy of men out of work, and about God’s love for them all.  He talked on and on, his deep voice resonant and compassionate, breaking when he described the cold winter coming on and the agony it would bring with it.

Standing six foot three inches tall with his graying hair lit by the sun that streamed through the stained-glass window, he chided businessmen for not dropping their prices a little for those in terrible distress.  He named farmers, Christian men in the congregation, who let their produce rot and poured their milk out on the ground before they would give it to neighbors and strangers new to the area.  He called for renewal of ancient gleaning practices.  And he firmly asked his assembled church brethren, “Are we, or are we not, our brother’s keepers?”

He turned to the women, softly reminding them that there were children not two miles away who were hungry and cold, who needed loaves of bread, pots of soup, comfort, and kindness.  When he saw that he had made them cry, he turned and walked out of the church, saddened by their distress. (1)

This is one of my favorite essays from one of my most-favorite cookbooks, The Many Blessings Cookbook by Jane Watson Hopping.  I love to pull this treasure out around this time every year and lose myself in the comfort food recipes and old-time wisdom.  I don’t think it is in print anymore, but it would be worth it to look for a used copy.

What strikes me every time about this essay is the heart of God in it.  Why do we pursue the homestead life?  Is it merely for our own sense of security and self-sufficiency?  I hope not.  I hope it is because we not only want to live a life close to our Father’s creation, but to also be a blessing to others in sharing the fruits of our labors.  Have you ever witnessed the joyful reaction from someone when you share with them a dozen fresh eggs, a loaf of hot bread, fruits and veggies straight out of your garden?  Doesn’t it just fill your heart to overflowing?  This way of life is becoming more and more rare in our culture – so rare that when we share of it in some way with our friends and neighbors, it is usually met with astonished delight.

Whatever the future may bring, pray that God will bless your efforts so that you can be a blessing to others if distress should come upon this nation.


(1) The Many Blessings Cookbook, Jane Watson Hopping, Copyright 1993, Villard Books

Enjoy more homestead wisdom from the New Harvest Homestead anthology!

The Burden of Love

 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful.  Love is not proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, and is always hopeful.  Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NLT & NIV)

We’ve all read these verses countless times, heard them recited at weddings and maybe even posted them on our fridge or wall.  Such beautiful, inspiring words.  I know I’m not the only one who has memorized these verses, trying to etch them on my heart and mind.  Trying to make this truth be true in me.

But, I fail.

I printed these words out once and taped them to the ceiling above my bed, so they would be the first words I saw every morning.  And, for a while, I did read them upon waking, but within 10 minutes of rising transgressed one portion or another.  After a while, I didn’t even see them there anymore.  I finally took the paper down, feeling pretty defeated by my astonishing inability to live up to its challenge.

One day, as I was working through my bible-in-a-year plan, these verses came around again.  But, this time, as I pondered them, the Spirit of God revealed something glorious to me.  These words aren’t about me, they are about Him.  God is love.  We love because He first loved us.  The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. (1 John 4:16, 1 John 4:19, Romans 5:5).

That changes everything.

God is patient and kind. God is not jealous or boastful.  God is not proud  or rude. He does not demand His own way. He is not irritable, and He keeps no record of being wronged. He does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  God never gives up, never loses faith, and is always hopeful.  God never fails.

The burden to love like that is not on me, it’s on Him.  And, when we realize that this is who He is and how He loves us, I mean, doesn’t that just set you free?

A few more verses after this passage, Paul says we should pursue love. That does not mean try your hardest to live up to what he just wrote.  It means pursue God, with all of your heart.  And, in that pursuit, as you come to know Him and trust Him more and more, you will find yourself living out the truth of 1 Corinthians 13, without even realizing it.  This is the way of sanctification.  Not in striving to become a certain way, but in resting in the One who will work His life and love into us, day by day.



What Really Happened on the Cross? Part III

In my last post, I indicated that there might be at least two reasons why Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” while on the cross, other than the traditional explanation that the Father had truly abandoned His Son.  The first reason, as I explained, might be that He was seeking to call to the minds of the religious leaders around Him the words of Psalm 22 so that they might realize this messianic prophecy was being fulfilled before their eyes and repent.

Another possibility is that Jesus truly did experience a feeling of abandonment while in the process of “becoming sin” on our behalf.  Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus, “…endured the cross, despising the shame“.  Though Jesus never committed any sin (2 Cor. 5:21, 1 Pet. 2:22), He suffered its effects when He became sin for us.  And, what is one of the greatest consequences of sin?  Shame, and the sense of condemnation that goes along with it.

In the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned, they hid themselves from God.  Why?  Shame.  They were ashamed to be naked and ashamed to face God.  Shame made Adam and Eve feel as if they couldn’t face God.  It wasn’t true.  Notice, the Lord came looking for them.  He didn’t stay far off, unwilling to look upon them in His holiness.  What a beautiful lesson for us.  In our sin and shame, He comes looking for us, like the Good Shepherd that He is.

Is it possible that Jesus, when overwhelmed with the sense of shame that we sinners know all too well, felt what we felt in those moments – abandoned by God?  How often it is that I have allowed a cloud of shame and condemnation to come between me and my Father in heaven.  The turning away is never on His part, but on mine.  I feel unworthy to approach Him with my guilty conscience.  I feel as if He wants nothing to do with me…I feel forsaken.  This is only a deception, based on feelings and the lies of the enemy, not truth or faith. We all know how powerfully oppressive condemnation can be.  It is smothering.  What if Jesus, in taking on our sin, felt that same dark sense of separation from God?  No wonder it is the one thing the scriptures tell us He despised about the suffering of the cross.  I think the Lord really does hate shame – it keeps His children from running into His arms when they need Him the most.

And, it was from the depths of despair and shame that Jesus showed us the way out.  Though everything within Him screamed that God had abandoned Him, He used His last breath to exercise the greatest act of faith and trust in all eternity:

Father, into your hands I commit My Spirit.

Luke 23:46

He refused to succumb to the shrieking lies of the enemy or confusing feelings, but relied on what He knew was true of His Father – that His Father loved Him and would never leave Him or forsake Him.  Though engulfed in the deepest darkness any man has ever known, He put His trust in God to deliver Him.  In fact, toward the end of the messianic psalm He quoted, it says this:

For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy, He has not turned his back on them,
    but has listened to their cries for help.

Psalm 22:24

The Father Jesus knew did not turn His back on His people, He always answered those who cried out to Him.  This is why Paul could say, with great confidence in Romans 8:1-3:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did; sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh…

In those dark hours, when Jesus became sin, that sin was consumed and condemned to death by the power of God residing in the body of Jesus Christ. This is why only Jesus, God incarnate, could accomplish our salvation. Only He had the power to obliterate sin once and for all, and then go on to conquer death three days later.

God does not want you to live under a heavy burden of sin and shame, my friends.  Jesus did away with that on the cross.  It is the enemy of our souls, the accuser of the brethren, who wants you to continue to believe that the Father does not want you to come near to Him because of your weaknesses and failings.  Jesus’ invitation is, in fact, just the opposite to those lies:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Matt. 11:28-30 (NLT)

Those heavy burdens are our sins and we become weary with the effort of trying to be good enough for God through the keeping of laws and rules. The same Spirit that did away with sin and the law in the body of Jesus wants to do away with it in you as well.  But, it is HIS work to do, not yours.  Just rest in Him and trust in His finished work – He will do the rest.

It is finished

Love Lisa

Read more encouraging and inspiring article in the New Harvest Homestead newsletter anthology.  5 years of devotional articles, homestead wisdom, and practical help.

What Really Happened on the Cross? Part II


   I want to give credit right now to Wayne Jacobsen, the author of He Loves Me: Learning to Live in the Father’s Affection.  This book opened up a fresh revelation of the cross of Christ that has been transformational for me.  Once in a while, the Holy Spirit guides us deeper into the truth with crystal clarity.  You just know that you know that it’s true.  This has been one of those times for me.

     For most of us, the cross evokes thoughts and images of, not only pain and suffering, but punishment and wrath.  An angry God needed to punish someone in order to satisfy His need for justice.  And so, He chose to allow His only beloved Son to be tortured and murdered to assuage His wrath.  Can you understand, from that description, why so many unbelievers object to this foundational premise of Christianity?  You might say, “Well, it’s the hard truth!”.  But, is it?

 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:18-19

      Sometimes, words lose their meaning when we “theologize” them too much.  That word “reconcile” –  try to think about it in non-theological terms.  When two people are reconciled, it means they have reunited in a relationship together after some period of estrangement.  Think about the parable of the prodigal son.  That father, seeing his wayward son straggling home, runs to him and embraces him with love and tears.  That’s reconciliation.  And, this is what Paul tells us was happening on the cross – God was IN Christ, holding out His arms of reconciliation to the world through Jesus.  He wasn’t standing far off with His back to His Son, unwilling to look.  The Father was there, in Christ, going through it all with Him in order to make a way for the world to know Him and come into relationship with Him.  I find this teaching which proclaims that God can separate Himself to be borderline heretical.  How can the God, who “changes not” (Mal. 3:6, James 1:17, Heb. 13:8) become something other than Who He is?

     So, why did Jesus cry out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”.  I believe there are at least two reasons for this.  First of all, where do we find those same, exact words in the scripture?  Psalm 22.  This Psalm of David, written 1000 years before Jesus lived, is one of the most astoundingly accurate prophecies regarding the Messiah.  When Jesus spoke those words, you can believe that the minds of the religious leaders near Him went straight to that Psalm.  And, what else did David prophesy about the Messiah?

But I am a worm and not a man,  scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me;  they hurl insults, shaking their heads. “He trusts in the Lord,” they say, “let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.”
vs. 7, 8

     See Matthew 27:41-43 – Those religious leaders, among others, were actually fulfilling this prophesy with their own mouths.

Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.  All my bones are on display;  people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.   vs. 16-18

     Crucifixion was unheard of at the time David wrote this Psalm.  The Romans brought this brutal method of execution with them when they conquered the Levant.  It was also Roman soldiers who fulfilled the prophesy regarding casting lots for Jesus’ garment (John 19:23).

     Now, these religious leaders are standing around, watching all of this unfold, and then Jesus quotes Psalm 22, bringing to their minds all of these different elements regarding the suffering of the Messiah foretold by David.  It HAD to occur to them at that moment that what was foretold in that Psalm was being fulfilled right before their eyes. Was this Jesus’ way of reaching out to them one last time, speaking to them the words of this Psalm so that they might put it all together and, perhaps, come to believe?  Was it for their benefit that He cried out these words?

     Wouldn’t that be just like Him?

     I’ll let you chew on that for a while.  A free PDF copy of Wayne’s book can be found here:  He Loves Me.I think you will find this book deeply encouraging and full of living water.  Until next time!

Love Lisa

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