Foundations for Farming Course at the 2018 Lamplighter Guild!

I am excited to announce that I will be teaching a Foundations for Farming Agriculture Course at the 2018 Lamplighter Guild in Mount Morris, New York, July 8-13!

The goal of the Lamplighter Guild is to kindle a renaissance of creative excellence that inspires one to know God intimately, proclaim Him passionately, and enjoy Him infinitely. It is an inspirational experience where faith meets purpose and where purpose ignites passion.

This past week I spoke with Mark Hamby, founder of Lamplighter, on his podcast, Fastened Like Nails. You can find the link to the podcast below:

Fastened Like Nails Podcast

You can find out more about the course I am offering, the Guild, or registration at https://www.lamplighterguild.com/horticulture

Lamplighter is offering an early-bird discount through January 31st, so if you are interested go ahead and pray about registering soon.

I hope to see you there!

Course Description:

Stewarding the land was one of the first tasks God gave to man. It is one of the most basic and essential expressions of the job we have been given of ruling the earth. But few people in the church today have anything to do with agriculture. And sadly Christians often have a reputation of being destroyers of the land. There are many serious challenges facing agriculture around the world. The world is looking for answers about how we are going to feed people in the years to come. The heart of this class is to equip Christians to be leaders in agriculture by basing their gardens and farms in the foundation of Jesus’ humility, unselfishness, and faithfulness. Then they can model the excellence that comes from respecting the design of God in Creation and share the heart of Jesus that is behind it. Agriculture done with this perspective can be a powerful tool for making disciples in communities.

The methods taught in this class are based in simple, yet powerful principles revealed by God in the story of Foundations for Farming, an agricultural discipleship ministry based in Zimbabwe, Africa. God used a bankrupt white commercial farmer named Brian Oldreive to discover God’s simple ways of growing plants and he ended up being one of the most successful farmers in all of Africa. But God then called him to share what he had learned with the poor, and the result has made an incredible impact all over Africa and the world.

This class will cover three levels of Agriculture:

  1. Backyard Food Production: How to successfully grow some of your own food.
    1. Soil management
    2. Garden layout
    3. Compost
    4. Vegetable production
    5. Using your Garden to share the Gospel
  2. Homesteading: How to grow a lot of what you eat.
    1. The homesteading lifestyle
    2. Field crops
    3. Chickens
    4. Milk cows
    5. Homestead design
    6. Infrastructure
    7. Ministry of Hospitality
  3. Market Farming: How to grow food for other people and get paid for it.
    1. Management difference for commercial production
    2. Developing a business plan
    3. Marketing
    4. Commercial production techniques
    5. Ministry opportunities

Announcing My Upcoming Book, Born Again Dirt

Do you desire to glorify God through the way you farm? Are you tired of reading books on farming that deny God as Creator? Have you ever wondered what agriculture would look like if it was based on the Bible, instead of evolution, Mother Nature, or the latest and greatest manipulative science?
Born Again Dirt is a book written for Christian farmers (or Christians that grow anything) and seeks to give them a Biblical vision for agriculture. This book contends that the way we farm is not unrelated to our relationship with God. Rather, it should be a reflection of it!  As the title of the book communicates, if you are a born again farmer, your dirt needs to be born again as well.
The primary goal of Born Again Dirt is not to convince Christians to adopt a particular farming method. Instead, the intent is to encourage them to begin a journey of seeking to glorify the Lord through applying the principles of Scripture to every aspect of their farms. This book seeks to do that by taking a helpful, though not exhaustive, look at various Biblical principles and considering examples of practical application. Topics covered include:
-Developing a Biblical, agricultural worldview.
-Designing farms as beautiful, fruitful homes.
-Managing your farm as a steward
-Honoring God’s design in farm production
-Growing crops that honor the Lord
-Marketing as ministry
-The idolatry of modern agriculture
-Farming for the lifestyle
-Starting a born again farm
-Making a living farming
Without claiming to know all the answers, Born Again Dirt seeks to encourage you in your pursuit of God-glorifying agriculture . This book is a must read for any Christian who is a full time farmer, backyard gardener, or for anyone who desires a more Biblical view of agriculture.
Lord willing, Born Again Dirt will be released sometime next month. It will be available on my upcoming website, www.bornagaindirt.com. I really am looking forward to seeing how the Lord uses this book for the encouragement of the growing number of Christian farmers.
Currently I am working on editing, and would appreciate your prayers. I only have a short time to work on it before growing season hits. Over the next few weeks I will try to give you updates and more info as I make progress. To God be the Glory.
“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” Ecclesiastes 12:12

Why Does God Want us to Farm?

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There seems to be something about farming that is special. It is normally not the most lucrative occupation, and many times farmers today lose money farming. Most farmers work a ‘city’ job so they can continue to afford to farm. So why do they keep farming? Well, I believe the main reason is because they enjoy it.

I enjoy farming. I know that I would farm for free if my bills could still be met. There is something about being able to be outside, working in the dirt, watching things grow, feeding the animals, and harvesting the fruits of your labor that seems to fill an inward desire to steward the land.

When I rise early in the morning the waking dawn is just breathtaking. Doing the chores is satisfying as well as great exercise. Basically what I get to do is go around and make the animals happy. Give them feed, fill their water, move their shelters, etc., and when they are happy, my job is done. My daily work on the farm is never the same and changes with the seasons. There are somewhat hard jobs, like processing chickens, setting out thousands of transplants, or working in the heat of the summer. But they don’t last forever and I can finish and move on to something else. There is always something to look forward to. Looking forward to planting the first seeds in spring. Looking forward to harvesting the first crops of summer. Looking forward to the cooler weather of fall. Looking forward to the rest and projects of winter. And the majority of the time I am at home and get to eat every meal with my family, as well as work with them. Almost every day I find myself falling more in love with farming.

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But I have begun to realize that merely farming because I enjoy it isn’t necessarily a proper primary motive for me as a Christian. And it’s not a very reliable one either. Because at times there are definitely things I don’t enjoy about farming. Like doing the chores in the rain and mud. Or finding chickens that have been killed by predators . As a Christian, my life is not all about farming. It’s all about Christ. It’s about doing what pleases the Lord who created me, loves me, and saved me. This means that my farming needs to be motivated out of a love for God, not just a love for farming.

Though there are many aspects to God’s commands, we are told that they are all summed up by one thing. Love. Love for God, and love for your neighbor. If our farms are to bring glory to God they must be motivated first and foremost by a love for God and man.

Love is such a misunderstood term today that I probably need to take a moment to give a biblical definition of love. Love is not the mushy gushy, fickle, emotional feeling that American culture tells us. Rather, God is love. Through the ultimate display of love of all time, Jesus showed us that love is an act of the will, accompanied by emotion, that produces action on behalf of its object, even at great personal cost. “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” It is this type of love that must motivate our farms.

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Most Born Again farmers would probably agree that love should be the motive for farming, but how many of us actually farm as if that were the case? How many Christians go into farming today because of a desire to love God and others? On other hand, how many Christians never go into farming because there are easier and better paying jobs? What does that say about our motives? Of course we all claim that it’s not about the money and that there is nothing wrong with work. But then we go and evaluate something like farming primarily based on how much money we could make rather than on how it enables us to be in a position to serve God and others. We need to repent of claiming to have God’s values, then turning around and applying the World’s values.

If farming is to be motivated by love, does the Bible explain any further what that means? In 1 Thessalonians 4 Paul is writing to urge the brothers to live in order to please God. He then tells them to avoid sexual immorality and encourages them in their love for one another. He then sums up by giving what I consider an application of what love should look like in our lives.

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet live, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1 Thess. 4:11,12)

There are four major applications I believe this verse calls us to.

1.-Godly lifestyle: To promote and support, restful, God-focused living.
2.-Stewardship: To work and care for creation.
3.-Testimony: To display the work of the Gospel.
4.-Provision: To provide for the needs of people.

Lord willing, I will talk more about these applications in later posts.

Let’s consider today, “Why do I farm?” Is it primarily from a self-centered motive or a Christ-centered motive? I find both motives in my own heart daily. May the Lord enable us to continually redeem our dirt by removing our selfishness and replacing it with Christ.