Monthly Devotions

Life’s Lessons from the Chicken Yard

 

If you watch the news you see all kinds of chaos going on around the world: masses rioting in the streets, soldiers fighting their way through terrorist strongholds, car bombings, kidnappings, drugs, teens killing teens, husbands killing wives, mothers killing their babies, school shootings, robberies, corruption, political slandering and the list just goes on! The Bible records a lot of the same unrest, violence, hatred and corruption going on throughout the history of mankind.

Have you ever asked yourself; why can’t people just do the right thing and get along? Why can’t we just love one another and do what is best for all of mankind? Why do we have to fight, kill, and afflict physical, emotional, and spiritual pain on one another? Why aren’t we content with what we have and thankful for what blessings others have—instead of trying to find ways to take what is theirs and make it ours?

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RESOLUTION OR SOLUTION?

 

By the time you read this, if you made any New Year’s resolutions, you have probably already broken them, or will soon do so. I mean, if we really wanted to do what our resolutions called for, why wouldn’t we start doing them in December when we thought of them instead of saying “beginning January 1st, I will…..?”

I remember making a whole lot of New Year’s resolutions throughout the years—mostly dealing with my weight, beginning a regular exercise program, improving my eating habits, and even some spiritual issues. However, the reality is I cannot ever remember keeping any of those resolutions through to completion. Oh, I would go out and buy a new sweat suit, a new pair of running shoes, join the gym, and even buy a head of lettuce and a few carrots, but by the next January, the sweat suit was stored away, I only wore the running shoes when my feet hurt from being overweight, the gym membership has expired, the lettuce and carrots had long ago dropped off my grocery list, and I was fifteen pounds heavier than the year before!

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Christmas Choices

 

The Christmas season has always been my favorite time of the year. I love the lights, the singing, the fellowship of family and friends, and the joy of the season. I love the way people come together to help others, even perfect strangers in a spirit of love and compassion. I love the excitement and the sense of expectation on the faces of children, the bonfires, hayrides, caroling and the candy canes. But, my favorite part of all is when I realize all over again that there is a God who loves me, and loves you so much that He would send His only Son into the world to be our Savior and to reveal to us God’s will and His heart.

As I right this devotional today, I am reminded and saddened by the realization that most of the world does not celebrate the Christmas season because they do not know the God or the Jesus whose birth and life we celebrate. They do not know the joy of giving to others in celebration and remembrance of God giving His Son to and for us. For most of the world, Christmas is just another day facing life’s challenges, hurts and disappointments without any hope for the future.

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BROKEN CISTERNS

 

I grew up in a rural farming community in southeast Alabama working on row crop, chicken and cattle farms. During all of these years, I do not remember ever seeing a water cistern. I remember windmills, hand pump wells, freshwater springs, and city water, but never a cistern.

Not until we moved to rural Kentucky to attend seminary, had I ever seen anyone in America using a cistern as their primary water source. Because of all the rock in that part of Kentucky, few houses had water wells or city water. Instead, they had water trucks fill their cisterns on a regular basis and they had to treat the water to make it drinkable.

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Experiencing God in the Calving Pasture

The Fall of the year with its cool breeze, crisp and clean morning sun, and the smell of fresh hay, has always been my favorite time of the year. I guess the reason I enjoy Fall so much is because it has traditionally been calving season at my house and there is nothing I enjoy more on the farm than calving season.

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FAMILY: On and Off the Farm

 

I remember my daddy often reminiscing about his experiences growing up in a large family on the farm. His earliest memory was on a farm in the Haw Ridge area (between Enterprise and Ozark AL). Their farm, like the farms of many others was purchased by the government when Camp Rucker (currently Fort Rucker) was being built.

I am grateful that before daddy passed away, I was able to go with him to visit that old home place and hear all the stories of his childhood, to see the creek where my grandmother washed clothes, to see the spot where the mule barn once stood, and to see the woods that were once fields where they plowed those mules.

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Unity is More Than Important—It is Absolutely Essential

 Have you ever thought about how important unity is in your home, your marriage, your church, your office, your farm or ranch? In every aspect of our lives where more than one person is involved, unity is essential if we are to get along—but most important if we are to get anything significant accomplished.

This morning I was reminded of the time I saw the Blue Angels perform at an air show. Those little blue jets were fast and they all moved as if one pilot was flying them all. Their wings just inches apart, they performed amazing stunts and maneuvers that required exact precision—a degree of precision that required a lot of experience and practice, but also a degree of precision that required a very deep underlying foundation of unity among the pilots.

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God, I’m not ______________. I AM!

 

During times like our country and our world are facing now, it is no wonder that more and more people are falling into depression, bitterness, and hopelessness. All of the problems we face are so much bigger than we are. We are in times of war and turmoil. Moral decline has led to the rejection of God and the teaching of His Word--resulting in the breakdown of the family, the embracement of sinfulness, corruption, selfishness and paganism that are all totally foreign to God’s will for our lives and the thinking of our Nation’s founding fathers. .

The economic uncertainty in our culture and in the world with the weakening dollar, record fuel prices, rising food prices, and a looming recession, it would be easy for us to become overwhelmed, frightened and discouraged at our inability to do anything to bring about any meaningful change and stability in our lives. What’s the use in fighting when our opposition and our circumstances are so huge and so overwhelming that we can’t do anything about them?

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The Rod and the Staff

 

If you read our devotional for the last two months, you will remember that we have been exploring the 23rd Psalm from the perspective of true shepherds. David, who wrote the Psalm, was himself a good shepherd and the son of a good shepherd. Phillip W. Keller who authored the book I reference entitled A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, was also a good shepherd. And of course, Jesus Himself is and always will be The Good Shepherd who we can trust with our lives. You can read the previous months devotionals on the Cattle for Christ website: www.cattleforchrist.com.

                Vs 4b: “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” In Biblical times and today in most third world countries, when the shepherd is out in the field with his sheep, he carries only the bare essentials. There are no pick-ups or ATVs--so he carries with him only what he has to have; his rod, his staff, some medical supplies for the sheep and some food and water for himself.

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The Good Shepherd Leads the Way

 

If you read last month’s devotional, you noticed that we began exploring the 23rd Psalm from the perspective of true shepherds.   David, who wrote the Psalm, was himself a good shepherd and the son of a good shepherd. Phillip W. Keller who authored the book that I reference entitled A Shepherd looks at Psalm 23, was also a successful and good shepherd. And of course, Jesus Himself is and always will be The Good Shepherd who we can trust with our lives. If you missed last month’s devotional on verses 1-3a, you can still read it on the Cattle for Christ International website: www.cattleforchrist.com, under the tab of monthly devotionals.

Vs 3b: “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” It is no wonder that in Scripture, people are so often compared to sheep, even by Jesus. Sheep are known for being stubborn creatures of habit, who when left on their own, will not only devastate the land that sustains them, but also destroy themselves and others. They overgraze the best pastures destroying the root systems and the possibility of future provision.   They daily walk the same familiar parasite infested and predator ridden paths, further exposing themselves to destruction. All of this was evident in the places I visited in Ethiopia earlier this year. Most of this country, because of overstocking, overgrazing, and unsound agricultural practices will never produce the lush pastures it once did, will never again meet the needs of the sheep or the shepherds. 

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The Good Shepherd

 

During my recent ministry trip to Ethiopia, I was surprised by the large numbers of cattle and sheep in that part of the world. Never have I seen so many shepherds and so much livestock. We traveled the length of the country and they were literally everywhere—in the streets, in the fields, in the cities, everywhere you looked shepherds were leading their herds and flocks to find grazing, water or safe shelter.

I found it easy to distinguish between the flocks tended by good shepherds and those tended by hirelings. Some flocks were led while others had to be driven; some were healthy while others were sickly; some had been groomed and cared for while others had matted fleeces or hair and had obviously been neglected; some were being closely watched while others were apparently left to wander on their own with no protection from predators and thieves.

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Blessed to be a Blessing

 

            During part of January and February I had the privilege of ministering in Arba Minch, Ethiopia. Though Cattle for Christ International (CCI) has supported work in many parts of Africa, including Ethiopia for the last several years, this was my first time to personally work in Africa. I went as part of a team of four pastors/missionaries. We conducted pastor training for about 120 local pastors and a leadership conference for about 100 of the business and community leaders of that region who had a burden to take the Gospel and the love of Christ to their own un-reached people. We were accompanied by a medical/dental team from Global Health Outreach. All together we had nineteen people from around the country representing four mission organizations including Cattle for Christ.

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Devotions by Year

  • Even Bulls Can Learn To Get Along
  • Changed Minds
  • Today is the Day
  • Sometimes We See What's Not There
  • Why Do You Farm?
  • Misplaced Aggression
  • Feasting On Filler
  • 'Get Some Rest': Not As Easy As It Sounds
  • Lessons From Freddy
  • Just Tired and Reflecting
  • Safe Pasture
  • Sin: Just Like Fall Army Worms
  • Blood Cleanses
  • Just Cute Little Harmless Pups
  • Life: A Series of Pipping
  • Just Because He Loves Us!
  • No Excuses!
  • Oh! Now You Tell Me!
  • Live Like You Were Dying
  • But You Didn't Tell Me!
  • Time to Choose
  • A Gift for the Man Who Has Everything and Realizes That He Really Has Nothing
  • Celebrate the Harvest
  • Falling Stars
  • Easier To Lead Than To Drive
  • Weeds, Weeds, Weeds!
  • Grace Is Like Grits
  • We Can’t Do It ‘Ourselves’!
  • I Wouldn’t Make a Good Cowboy
  • What Are We Thinking?
  • Your Walk Talks
  • Activity is No Substitute for Reproduction
  • Who Would Have Ever Thought It?
  • Thankful for Boundaries
  • Cover It Up Or Fix The Problem?
  • What Will Your Legacy Be?
  • I Wish I Had Been There! I Wish I Had Not Forgotten!
  • If God Can Use a Dove....?
  • Hope In The Midst Of Hopelessness
  • I Don't Know You!
  • Like A Straddled Squirrel
  • Sounding the Alarm: This Is Not a Test!
  • Don’t Let The Urgent Keep You From The Most Important
  • We Never Know Who We Have In The Basket
  • Uh Oh--Jesus' Got Toothpaste On His Head!
  • A Moment of Silence is like Preg Checking a Bull
  • A Chicken's Right to Choose
  • Got to Leave Right Now! What Do I Take With Me?
  • He is Able—But if He Does Not!
  • Declarations of Independence: Properity or Destruction?
  • Blackie: One In A Hundred-In More Ways Than One
  • Who Is Holding On The Tightest?
  • That Must Have Been 20 Years Ago!
  • It's Almost Time
  • Keeping Me Awake At Night
  • Better Be Dressed
  • CHRISTMAS My Favorite Time of the Year
  • A Nation Without God is a Nation Without Hope
  • Bush Hogging During a Severe Drought?
  • When the Heart Dies—the Whole Body Dies With It
  • Depopulate and Eradicate (or) Expiate and Propitiate
  • If I Could Only Say One Thing and Had One Last Chance to Say It
  • Go Ahead and Jump Son—Daddy Will Catch You
  • The Final Dispersal
  • Chicken Piping—He Sees Them All
  • “Takes the Teeth Out”
  • Making It Harder Than It Is
  • HOPE IN THE PIT
  • Why Was He Born?
  • What to do when you don’t know what to do
  • A Dry And Thirsty Land Where No Water Is
  • If Only These People Will Change
  • Go Fishing—You Never Know What You Might Catch
  • Some Droughts are Preventable
  • Celebrating ‘True Freedom’
  • Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
  • Victory Through Surrender
  • Responding Like a Sick Calf?
  • Our Life’s Investment: A Time for Reflection
  • Preg Checking: Open! Bred! I Ain’t Sure!!
  • Confidence To Face The New Year
  • Two Virgins and a Baby—The Irony and the Gift of Christmas
  • Precious Moments in the Calving Pasture
  • Working On a Building
  • What is the Foundation of Your Faith?
  • To Walk on Water—You Have to Step Out of the Boat
  • Only One Life to Live
  • The Uniqueness of a Mother’s Love
  • A Prayer That God Will Always Answer
  • Lessons from a Boar
  • When You Have Done All You Can Do to Stand: Stand Firm
  • Lowing in the Distance
  • Not My Dirty Feet!
  • THE RICH FAMILY IN CHURCH
  • Where did it go CFCI devotional
  • The Day ‘Tater’ Died
  • Life’s Lessons from the Chicken Yard
  • RESOLUTION OR SOLUTION?
  • Christmas Choices
  • BROKEN CISTERNS
  • Experiencing God in the Calving Pasture
  • FAMILY: On and Off the Farm
  • Unity is More Than Important—It is Absolutely Essential
  • God, I’m not ______________. I AM!
  • The Rod and the Staff
  • The Good Shepherd Leads the Way
  • The Good Shepherd
  • Blessed to be a Blessing
  • Mama Should Have Named Me Martha
  • FENCES: On the Farm & In Our Lives
  • The Harvest Depends on the Heart
  • The Gospel & Our Response to God's Grace
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