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, 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

Chickens: God's Gift to Gardeners

For a change, in this post I want to talk about a practical example of using God’s design to redeem the land, and show how it can bring amazing results. Perhaps it might be useful to some of you.

By the way, I am very grateful to Mr. Herrick Kimball over at The Deliberate Agrarian for mentioning me in his blogazine issue this month. It has really boosted my readership! Welcome to all you newcomers.

For the previous several years the garden operation on our farm hasn’t been the most successful. We still were blessed with many veggies to eat and sell, but the two acres of plantable ground was far from being fully utilized. Especially since I am the primary labor.

However this year was a HUGE improvement because the Lord helped me to implement a small piece of His design early in the season.

This spring our egg operation expanded from one flock, to two. With an additional flock to move around the farm I was faced with a dilemma. Our newly cleared pasture had baby grass coming up that would be decimated by foraging chickens and our small amount of established pastured needed some serious rest. To go along with this challenge, our garden needed to be planted soon but was grown up in crabgrass and other weeds.
Then, somewhere along the way the Lord helped me to see the previously unseen, obvious solution. Put the chickens in the garden!

It was not the first time I had heard or thought of the concept (or even used it), but I had been hesitant before because our garden is further away from our buildings than seemed safe. It seemed more tempting to the critters who consider chicken meat a delicacy around here: coyotes, opossums, raccoons, hawks, owls, etc. However, I knew it would be a good way to turn the chicken’s scratching from a liability in the pasture, to an asset in the garden. So I hooked the tractor to the portable coop of one of the flocks and hauled them down there.

I parked the coop over an area of basically crabgrass sod and surrounded it with electric netting. The chickens were released, and I threw their feed out on the ground. Several weeks later the grass had all been turned into eggs and fertilizer and I had bare soil with a very even dressing of manure. I then moved them to another area, and prepared and planted the spot where they had been. This went on throughout the season and the results I saw were amazing.

In the above picture you can see some of our fall crops. Broccoli, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, and tomatoes. In this plot I first got a demonstration of the amazing impact the chickens have on the plants. This was because part of the plot was in an earlier planting of tomatoes and the chickens never got a chance to be on it. The contrast between the part where the chickens had been and where they hadn’t was astounding. See the examples below.

Broccoli plants on ground not worked by the chickens.

Broccoli plants on ground worked by the chickens.

Cabbage plants on ‘un-chickened’ dirt.

Cabbage on ‘chickened’ dirt.

Tomatoes in ‘un-redeemed dirt’.

Tomatoes in ‘redeemed’ dirt!

In Luke 6:38 Jesus said, “Give, and it shall be given to you.” I believe this is an excellent example of this principle being displayed in the preparation of soil for planting. And it didn’t require more work from me. It just required me caring for and working God’s creation in a way that honors His design. His wisdom is far superior than anything man can come up with. I mean, just consider a few of the benefits of utilizing the design of chickens in the garden:

-The chickens turn one of the garden’s greatest liabilities, weeds, into one of the garden’s greatest assets, fertilizer.
-Instead of having to work to clean up weeds and crop residue, the chickens do it for me and turn them into eggs, which we then eat and sell!
-Tillage is minimized to preparing a seed bed and shallow cultivation of weeds. Earthworm population has increased.
-Bug population is kept under control.
-Spoiled produce can be fed to chickens to be converted into eggs and fertilizer.
-No time spent applying manure
-No time spent cleaning out coops.
-Organic matter can be incorporated into the soil without the danger of losing nitrogen because of the manure.
-The cost of production of eggs is decreased because feed bill doubles as fertilizer bill as well!

The wisdom of the Lord is limitless, and he offers it to those of us who will ask (James 1:5). What a blessing it is to have a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe, who instructs us in the way to walk, and grants us success. Imagine what the fruits and benefits could be as we continue to seek to redeem our dirt!

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.