by: DALE NESSMITH
“Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me.” Proverbs 30:8
Partisover Ranch is a world famous Angus cattle ranch located in northeast Georgia near the town of Colbert. The late Dr. Dan Daniel and his son Randy started the ranch and now Randy and his wif
Beth continue to maintain and produce quality cattle providing other cattlemen with seed stock and a lot of young men and women the oppor- tunity to grow in the knowledge of and to exercise responsibility for livestock through 4-H and FFA cattle projects. I first became acquainted with Partisover Ranch while I was a student at UGA, when I had the privilege to live on the ranch with free room in exchange for the opportunity to fix fences, load hay and be around some quality people like Dr. Dan and Randy Daniel. During the past fifteen years my daughter Sarah and my granddaughters Kelsey, Caroline, and Faith have almost made annual trips to Partisover Ranch to pick up show heifers. It’s a trip we all look forward to making. First, Pineland Bakery is conveniently located right on the route to Colbert as we drive through Waynesboro. I have found right there that a blueberry fritter and a pint of fresh from the dairy milk is a true treat for the trip. (Faith likes their cream cheese filled Danish). Although it’s about a three hour ride, it’s not very long because the scenery is so serene. Row crops, pine trees and pastures manifest The Creator’s fingerprints all along the way! It’s a worthy vacation for anybody when we can take the time and the route to notice what God and others have done and are doing. We’d be much happier if we did more looking for the good and less lingering on the bad. Unfortunately, there are people who can look at a beautiful pasture and see only a pile of manure.
We probably all make life more complicated than we ought to. This can cause stress and can result in straying from what’s most important — God and our loved ones. Now creation and salvation are both mysterious and miraculous, but they are not complicated. We may not be able to figure God out, but we have no problem finding Him.
“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from everyone of us: for in him we live and move, and have our being;...”Acts 17: 27,28A
The best source for learning how to do life is God. His holy written Word is the vital manufacturer’s handbook especially needed when there is a bend in the road or a detour to take. And when we look at the book, we’ll find Jesus, The Master Teacher and burden bearer saying “come unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” and “for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” When Jesus calls His disciples to follow Him, He makes it simple, not confusing. (“Deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.”) Following Jesus may hurt, but it’s not hard. Jesus means for us to take one day at a time, not trying to please ourselves, not complaining about our problems, only trusting Him to handle what we cannot.
Several years ago while visiting with Dr. Dan at the Partisover Ranch barn, I overheard a rancher explaining to Dr. Dan how a particular cattle feed contained so much fiber and protein and minerals and amino acids, yet his cattle were not doing all that good by eating it. After listening to the frustrated cattleman, Dr. Dan asked, “Have you tried corn and oats?” You see, if a person wanted to know how to do cattle and what it took to make them thrive, Dr. Dan Daniel was as good a source as there was. Here was a man who had a doctorate degree in animal science with no telling how many animal nutrition sources under his cowboy hat, suggesting a most basic and convenient feed — corn and oats. Dr. Dan was not being sarcastic, although the inquirer seemed surprised at his answer and maybe a little embarrassed to have to admit he had not tried such a simple recipe.
Sometimes the simplest, the nearest, the taken for granted, the looked over things; work best, are most efficient, smartly prompting and purely profound. I asked Mr. Roland Starling during his and his wife Virginia’s seventy-third wedding anniversary what the key to a successful marriage was. He said, “Just love her!” Legendary Georgia Southern University football coach Erk Russell built success on the field on a foundation of basics such as a drink of water from Eagle Creek and a two letter rule for on and off the field; “Do Right.” The Apostle Paul told a scared jailor who asked what must he do to be saved to “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ...” Think about it, the greatest name in all the universe, the name above all names is also an easy name, Jesus! It’s good that God didn’t name His son Mephibosheth or Melchizedek. The best things in life are really free and the most beneficial things are usually those which are convenient.
A trip to Partisover Ranch often meant having lunch in Colbert. You won’t find a Longhorn Steakhouse nor a Panera Bread deli in Colbert. I understand that a Chick-Fil-A truck sets up a roadside stand there every two weeks. What you will find there are the very best hotdogs in the world. Billy Meadow’s Hotdog Stand located on Highway 72 is a stop hungry travelers will be glad they made. Now a hotdog isn’t fancy, but if it’s fixed right you can’t eat just one. If we take the simple and convenient things God has provided us, fix them right with appreciation, contentment, and common sense, we’ll find that what we have is enough, even making every day of our lives a banquet. A question for reflection is “Do we believe God supplies all our needs?” Hopefully we do, but it’s not always fixed right.
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in Glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
The one and only recipe for life is also a most basic and convenient one — Jesus Christ! God provides for and sustains us but He does not give out menus. The Bread of Life is always fresh out of the borrowed tomb, heated by the cross of Calvary. So, sit down to a table prepared in the wilderness, take the Bread of Life freely and fix it right with faith that Jesus died for your sins, took your badness upon Himself and replaced it with His goodness and enjoy.
Amy Wolff of Newberg, Oregon wanted to help her community cope with depression and discouragement during the COVID-19 pandemic. So, she and her family began making short and simple signs on cardboard and placing them around town. She called them “Signs of Hope” and on them were written “hotdog” thoughts that were convenient and fixed right. Message like “Don’t Give Up,” “One Day At A Time,” “You Matter,” etc. stood at intersections and along roadsides. This movement Mrs. Wolff founded has become a worldwide inspirational formula and even has prevented at least two people from taking their own lives, according to Amy’s testimony.
Dr. Dan’s suggestion for feeding cattle is certainly worth trying. Furthermore, I think we can glean some real good spiritual food from his hypothesis as well. We can waste a lot of time trying the wrong things, but if we learn from our mistakes then we can redeem a lot of the waste. A tragedy though is the consequence of not trying at all. Maybe our first step should be to try trying!
Have you tried the Gospel?
The gospel is good news because it is the story of how we are saved from the wrath of God. God is Holy and we are not. That means something dramatic has to take place to reconcile such opposites. The Gospel describes in detail what took place;
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“For He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” II Corinthians 5:21
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23
I could go on...yet reading the ingredients on a feed sack won’t make the cow grow nor will reading the verses in your Bible strengthen the inner man if you don’t believe them. Believing the gospel means trying the Gospel. Quit trying to save yourself or to get good enough to go to
Heaven. Instead try the gospel by believing that Jesus Christ took your place on the cross of Calvary, died there for your sins past, present and future, then rose from the tomb thereby declaring and sealing the access to God to all that were given to Christ by the Father before the world was made. The Gospel further provides all we need to maintain the joy and fellowship we all desire to have with the Father by telling us through The Holy Spirit convicting consciousness that we need to and ought to repent of our daily sins. Sometimes trying the Gospel will make you cry, because it’s the “corn and oats” and shows us what we need most — a Saviour!
Just like “corn and oats” the Gospel contains all the nutrition we need and it’s a lot less expensive too. Actually, the Gospel won’t cost you a dime, though it is only available via the highest price that was ever paid for anything — the blood of Jesus Christ.
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1
Corn and oats probably are the two most basic and widely used grains for livestock feed there is. Cows of most every age, color, size and shape will do well on corn and oats. The Gospel comes only in one size from one source bound and binding in a bag with no holes called the Bible. And one size fits all because we all are sinners! Yet, we’re tied together by a scarlet thread of redeeming love which will carry us through the toughest times and deliver us from the hottest hell. Jesus is our sacrifice and our priest. The Gospel story is a true story of God’s glory and it has all the ingredients necessary to make a sinner a saint. Try it, you might like it!
Have you tried Grace?
Grace is getting what we don’t deserve! The Gospel cited above tells the good news of not getting what we do deserve — namely God’s holy wrath. Someone has coined grace in acronym form: God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense. We all need grace and lots of it. We are saved by grace and we stay saved by grace. Even the good works we were saved to do won’t get done without grace. God’s sustaining grace helps us get through the dark providences His grace leads us into. God’s restraining grace keeps us from sinning more than we do. Grace is a lot like manna in that it comes from Heaven. It’s just enough for one day (except on Sundays) and has to be gathered up. Grace, unlike righteousness, is not imputed but it is important.
God created cows to eat grass and that is really the best food for cows, even better than corn and oats. Believers are created to eat grace, to graze on God’s word and then ruminate redemptively while lying in the green pastures of the Good Shepherd’s care and provi- sions. Remember, God made the grass before He made the cattle and God created grace before we were born again for He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world was lain. There is absolutely nothing in this life a child of God will go through or deal with that God’s grace won’t be sufficient. In reality, there is no such thing as insufficient grace.
Some of us are like the man complaining to Dr. Dan about the poor performance of the feed he was feeding, in that we won’t try grace until what we have isn’t working too good. Why is it that we have to have our hearts broken before we love, be crippled before we can walk and have our heads cracked before we can think? But when problems, disappointments, and failures happen, we find grace, simply and basically, is all we need; it’s the spiritual corn and oats. Grace is not mixed with a lot of synthetic additives, vitamins or minerals. Grace is hard to describe as was the manna wafers the Israelites dined on. However, when the manna meal was finished, they were satisfied. The Apostle Paul may have died in a Roman prison, but he finished his life with joy. Even though it was a fight to the finish, he kept the faith and his doing so proves it makes a lot of sense to try grace.
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9A
Have you tried God?
There are probably a lot of Bibles in jails and hotel rooms. The reason there are is because when all else fails, we turn back to the Bible. To try God is to believe God. To try God is to trust God and take His word seriously enough to make it the rule of our lives. Every decision we make is a God decision. Whatever we do, our careers, family, even our vacations should be taken to God in prayer. God is so wise, so worthy and so powerful that if He says jump we should ask, “How high?” and if God says sit we should start looking for a chair.
One thing that keeps us from trying God is that instead of trying Him, we try to figure out what He’s doing or where He is. When we do this we are turning the wrong knobs and the result is chaos and confusion.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8,9
The trials of life make a good platform for us to try God. Remember Job in the Old Testament lost everything when God used Satan to take away the things which Job loved and cher- ished. When the doubts and dust settled though, Job knew that God was in con- trol and that He was enough. Sometimes God will try us so that we can try Him! We are living in a time and culture which makes it difficult to try God. It’s difficult to trust and depend on God when we have so much already. Today, everybody has it made; everybody has money, a cell phone, and an ATV. The truth is, it’s easy to forget God when our pockets are full. But be aware, God will not share His glory with anything or anybody. God’s glory is manifest best when we try God. It is true that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. And we won’t know what true satisfaction is unless we try God.
“Our God is the God of all hope!”
Try God! You’ll be glad you did when it comes your time to die. He is the only one who will never leave or forsake us. We are created by Him and for Him and His plan and purpose for our lives on earth is to try Him. It’s sad that The One who gives us all, and is in all, and is good all the time, can be taken for granted, ignored and overlooked. To ask a long time Christian whether or not they have tried God may be offensive on the surface. It’s sort of like the man being shocked when Dr. Dan confronted him with a most basic question; Have you tried corn and oats?
How is it between you and the Lord right now? Really, we would be fool- ish not to try God. God loves us and has given us His Spirit to enjoy Him not only in Heaven but here on Earth as well. It’s not about being religious or going to church or trying to quit sinning, it’s about trying God.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
Our God is the God of all hope! Don’t ever quit or give up. Keep trying. Even though we are weak, breakable, and backsliding, may no one, nor God ever be able to say we didn’t try. Try the Gospel, Try Grace, Try God for we are living in “Trying” times.