They Call It Progress

I try not to get too political or rant too much these days; I find it’s not good for my blood pressure and inner peace to dwell on these things. It broke my heart a few weeks ago while driving to a Veteran’s Administration (VA) facility and I can’t let it go. When that happens, this writer finds it helps to put it onto paper. Please indulge me.

I’ve never liked the fact that I must drive almost fifty miles each way to a VA medical treatment facility. Given God placed my family a good twenty minutes from anything resembling a proper city, I’ve learned to live with it. The one saving grace of that drive has always been the view. Winding back country roads, gentle rolling hills, and lots of fields and pastures. For many years, the three most common sights on my drive to Bonham, TX were cotton, corn, and cattle. That’s changing.

The serene photo above will be the last time I can look across this valley, north of the town of Ladonia—with a bustling population of less than 700. I no longer find cattle grazing here and will never again see hundreds, perhaps a thousand, large round hay bales waiting to be collected and stored for winter feeding. In a few years, the valley will be underwater.

The state purchased many small, family-owned farms and ranches in the area, at what I’m told was “top dollar”, so they can convert the land into Lake Ralph Hall. For those of you who might wonder, the late Mr. Ralph Hall served in Congress from 1981 to 2015. He died in 2019 and will be memorialized by Texas’ 4th congressional district with the newest water reservoir and dam. The project will span nearly 8,000 acres and hold some 59 billion gallons of water.

When completed (estimated 2026), it will deliver some 54 million gallons of water per day (MGD) to residents of Collin and Denton counties, which I consider northern suburbs of Dallas. Of that 54 MGD, it’s estimated that 35 MGD will be raw water. This is water diverted from the Sulphur River and other groundwater sources that serve our rural communities to the north and east of the Dallas area.

While the UTRWD touts the project’s economic benefits, its need to serve the growing population density in the areas surrounding Dallas, and environmental conservation claims, this old rancher wonders. I wonder, what about the farmers and ranchers surrounding this area? With other reservoirs in our area already supplying Dallas, how much more water will they divert from our farms and ranches so city dwellers can keep their swimming pools full? I wonder, how could that water (if not diverted) benefit the drought-stricken land they will rob water from? What happens when “progress” takes so much of our farmland that we become unable to feed and clothe America?

Perhaps what bothers me the most is how I see the lifestyle I have grown to cherish and respect being eroded away in favor of what others call progress. Seems to me that an important part of biblical stewardship, caring for God’s creation (Genesis 1:28-30 and 2:15), is being subverted in the name of urban sustainability.

What the world calls progress seems to be exactly the opposite of what God considers it to be. #IsItReallyProgress #GodOpposed Share on X

When I look at the world today, I see pandemics, wars, hatred, perversion, and greed at levels I once could have never imagined. I see technological advances such as artificial intelligence that, while meant to make man’s life easier, may lead to even more confusion and deception. All of this is called “progress.” What the world calls progress, God’s word calls deception. I believe progress in God’s eyes is growing closer to Him and becoming more like His Son, Jesus Christ. It seems the world is racing in the opposite direction.

While it’s too late to further oppose this project, my sense of sadness comes from recognizing that many American families have lost their legacy of farming and ranching. An already dwindling industry will suffer more losses in the name of progress.

More than any other, becoming a rancher has taught me to rely on my faith and seek a closer relationship with God. Why? Because everything farmers and ranchers do is done in faith. We plant with the faith that God will bring needed rains. At times, we’ll stay awake all night caring for a sick calf, knowing that God’s will is that we be good stewards of His blessings. We lift Him up in praise for a good harvest, and we bow down to Him in humble acknowledgement of His sovereignty when it’s not.

I recognize that as the rural lifestyle gives way to better-paying jobs and more convenience in the big cities, people will suffer for their choice. It seems the more densely populated an area becomes, the more problems in life arise. Crime, pollution, waste, and haste take the place of peacefulness, serenity, and safety. Rural living is a way of life that brings people closer to God. Perhaps that’s because we have more time to seek Him and He’s easier to find. We find Him in the natural creation around us and see Him in the hearts of more people in our rural, agricultural-based communities.

Being a caretaker of the land and livestock God has entrusted to me is perhaps the most satisfying job I’ve ever had. #Stewardship #FaithOfAFarmer Share on X

As I watch the world around me becoming a tinderbox of violence, hatred, and greed, I’m reminded that this is no longer my world. I may be in it for just a while longer, but praise God, I’m no longer a product of it. And while I can’t stop this world from reaching God’s ultimate plan for it, I can pray God uses me to help others find their way out of it.

My prayer for you this week is that you can find the source of peace in your life that this world cannot steal, kill, or destroy.

God’s blessings,

54 thoughts on “They Call It Progress”

  1. The world is racing toward in “progress” because I believe the devil knows his time is limited. He is doing all he can to subvert and tempt people away from God. Stand firm my friend.

    1. Could not agree more ma’am. He (Satan) knows that he can’t have true Christians, but he can distract, disappoint, and deceive enough to lead them astray and make their testimony ineffective. I think this is why we are seeing so much apostasy in the church today.

  2. A hint of poetic justice here, Mr J.D.

    I can feel your heart, but then, Ms Barbara and I experienced it first hand with Ms Diane. Carry on, sir.

  3. Instead of “progress” we should label all this as “progressive.” I hate to see our precious rural lands gobbled up and spit out as something supposedly beneficial to the most people takes its place. God is forced away from lives that can only grasp the here and now. That is no way to live, J. D., but I fear the devil is working overtime. Lord, please save us from ourselves!
    Blessings, my friend!

    1. Agreed Ms. Martha. Satan is indeed putting in extra effort these days. He thinks he’s gaining ground against God. When I see rural America being subverted by drugs and alcohol. When it becomes clear that large corporations, conglomerates, and foreign entities are taking control/ownership of our food processing plants. I read just recently that Tyson and Pilgrim’s Pride (both large chicken producers) have shut down processing plants and chicken production so that they can increase profitability (less chicken in the marketplace means we’re paying over $3/lb. for chicken wings!). Forty years ago, the DOJ would have been filing anti-trust lawsuits. Today, they (the DOJ and other three-letter agencies) seem more focused on executing political agendas than they do on protecting America. Thanks ma’am.

  4. Obviously, I’m not a rancher, but my roots on a small family farm knit my heart (once again) to yours. I was only a kid in those days, but the only crimes we were exposed to involved snitching a leftover biscuit that Ma was planning to save for the evening’s supper or violating a restriction about playing with knives or trying to shove one another into a mud hole. We also knew that having food to eat meant that some ground had to be plowed and gotten in shape to plant. Some seeds had to be dropped, some rain had to fall, some harvesting had to be done, and the output had to be cleaned, canned, and put away. We learned that sustaining our lives meant that we had to partner with the God who designed it all and who controlled all the basic parts that made the system work.
    Now, the closest our children get to that is a “box garden” in their back yard, which is nice, but our grandchildren depend on the grocery store and Chick-fil-A for sustenance. Even though all of them have been taught well and are not the product of government schools, they’re being confronted everywhere they turn by a system designed to transfer their allegiance away from God toward a dependence on government power and corporate money.
    One of the things Diane and I love about you, J.D., is the way God uses you to look beyond the normal, culturally approved definitions of what’s important and what constitutes progress. Obviously, understanding what progress means requires identifying what the ultimate objective is. If an event or a pattern is leading toward the targeted objective it’s considered progress. If it’s leading in another direction, then you’re losing ground.
    For the power brokers in charge today, more illegal immigrants invading our land is progress. More babies being slaughtered in the womb at later and later points is progress. More twisted definitions in our “news” reports, more chaos and crime in the streets, more kindergarteners exposed to freaks in our schools, more money sent to fund our enemies, and more incompetent idiots in positions of power is progress. But on the other hand, a Jesus following rancher who sees the hand of Almighty God in the world around him every day and who has the heart and the skills to write and publish it represents a major loss and a potential for disrupting their “advance.” Now, that’s what I’d call a real “progressive.”
    We enjoyed tagging along on your ride to the VA, Brother, and hope the visit was helpful. And your assessment of what they’re calling progress is rightfully disturbing and invigorating at the same time. Even here in Middle Tennessee, we’re seeing more and more farm land turned into residential developments. More and more “money people” moving in every week and prompting the building of more and more expensive homes. The families of local folks are having to move farther and farther out to find land and houses they can afford to buy, and all of it is being called… you guessed it. Progress.
    But as you so truthfully and powerfully concluded. This isn’t our real home. We’re blessed to have dual citizenship, and soon our worn down bodies, exasperated minds, and burdened hearts are going to experience an exposition of what progress means to the One who died to redeem and perfect us. He’s going to show the world some “progress” beyond anything we could imagine. God bless you, treasured friend, for the encouraging reminder.

    1. Amen. Well said Mr. Ron. The VA trip was to try and get some relief from plantar fasciitis. Received some steroid pills and shoe inserts, and, so far, all they’ve done is raise my blood sugar. The shoe inserts have at least made it so I can walk on my heel again. Ain’t getting older (reference last week’s post) fun? 🙂

      And yes, we Christian writers who share the truth of God’s word and the testimony of His good works in our lives are indeed “watchmen on the wall” my friend. We yell out the encroaching danger and it seems it often falls upon deaf, itching ears. In our homes, we do everything in our power to “de-program” our children and grandchildren. As you so rightly point out, it isn’t only the government-controlled schools that indoctrinate our children. It’s society itself. Today’s culture has largely convinced itself that we are our own gods and that we should worship the government because they are who gives us what we need. Oh, the deceptions we are seeing old friend.

      Keep fighting the good fight in your neck of the woods and I’ll be doing the same sir. God’s blessings to you and your Ms. Diane.

    1. Thank you Ms. Mimi. Such an important fact that we Christians need to remember. When we seek to “fit in” with this world, we no longer “fit in” with our Lord and home. When we look, sound, and act like the rest of the world, they see no difference in us from themselves. No one needs that type of Christianity. God’s blessings my low country friend.

    1. Thanks Ms. Ann. While the new reservoir may indeed be needed. They cite that those two counties (suburbs of Dallas with more concrete than cornfield) will see a 5X population explosion over the next quarter century. Where will all those new folks live? They’ll buy up more farmland and rangeland and build more subdivisions and complexes to house them all. I think that’s the part that saddens me the most. It won’t be that long before my quiet country home becomes crowded out by noisy neighbors who opt to commute 100 miles for their job for lower land and home prices. It becomes a vicious cycle.

  5. I live on a half lot in the third class city of Altoona, Pennsylvania.
    But the further away we move from farming, the worse it will become over time. I see farmland subdivided here and wonder how we’ll have food in the future.

    Keep preaching this message, JD. God bless!

    1. Yes ma’am Ms. Sylvia, and thank you ma’am. I can picture you talking to the chickens as you lift the lid on the nesting boxes now. “Oops, excuse me Gertrude. Didn’t mean to disturb you. I’ll come back later.”

      And yes, this world is doing everything it can to move up as far away from God as possible. We’re considered, “silly, programmed, evangelical autobots that clearly can’t think for themselves.” Oh, how far from the truth is that. Best to you and Mr. Phil ma’am.

  6. I am blessed to now live in a rural area. I can look out my back window and see a horse farm across the way. It is beautiful here. Quiet and peaceful. I hope it never changes.

    Blessings to you and Miss Diane!

  7. J.D., I am not a rancher nor a farmer, but live in a small town. Which by the way, is also being challenged with “progress”. When we first moved here, the town prided itself for the lack of large businesses. It was all small family owned stores and the center was a joy to walk around. More and more “progress” has taken place, traffic is terrible as the streets cannot handle the flow. While this world is not our home, we have been put in place to steward well and my concern is our lack of stewardship. Where will our food supplies come from? And what will be the prices we pay? May our eyes be opened and our hearts be ever discerning. Friend, I hope you keep writing and sharing your thoughts and wisdom.

    1. Yes ma’am! I’m right there with you Ms. Joanne. I grew up in a small, central Florida town, and even though it was the County Seat, downtown was littered with the family run Pharmacy (Wilson’s Rexall), the sole proprietor White’s Men’s Shop, and Ms. Trudy Kuhn and Kuhn’s Plumbing. We had locally owned and managed Citrus and Chemical Bank, and everyone knew everyone. Today, what was once Mr. Jack James’ farm and ranch has now become subdivided housing and mini-malls. The citrus groves have been overtaken by industry, and there’s hardly any semblance of the small town I grew up in left. It surely is happening ma’am. I pray Christ’s return before it happens to my family and yours ma’am. God’s blessings.

  8. As a rural Arkansas girl, I can certainly relate to your feelings, J.D. I grew up with grandparents who both grew gardens. I have shelled my share of peas and shucked bushels of corn. I am shocked at the children who don’t know where food comes from–just go to the store and get it is their mindset. But how does it get to the store? I plant seeds with my granddaughter so she knows how things grow. We need to pray for the world to wake up.

    1. Well said Ms. Barbara. We in America seem to be moving further away from our agrarian roots, gaining more and more momentum with each generation. When we think of our children, how many know how to hoe a row, can veggies, or even check or change oil in their vehicles. We no longer teach shop, auto mechanics, or home economics in our classrooms, opting instead for “gender studies” and “ history.” Perhaps our nation needs to take an honest look at how we’ve changed.

  9. It does seem strange and detrimental to siphon water from areas that regularly suffer drought to give it to big cities that already have other resources. I know we can’t paint everyone in an occupation with the same broad brush, but most politicians seem to do what brings them favor and keeps them in power rather than what’s best for their constituents. I don’t listen to or think about politics too much for the same reasons you mentioned.

    I love this: “while I can’t stop this world from reaching God’s ultimate plan for it, I can pray God uses me to help others find their way out of it.” All we can do is share Him in our realm of influence.

    1. Thank you Ms. Barbara. It isn’t a case of “being selfish” but thinking beyond today. If you take from those who feed and clothe you, what are you going to do when they’re gone? I don’t like where that game ends up.

  10. Stephanie Laughter Sudano

    A Sunday School teacher I had years ago said to watch out for “busy” – as he offered it as “burdened under Satan’s yoke”. Busy-ness is one of Satan’s tools for sure. Unfortunately the world sees busy as good and as necessary for progress. Along with green grass and full swimming pools…..etc etc. Love your thoughts today.

    1. How true Ms. Stephanie. It seems the more distracted Satan can keep the world, the easier it is for him to control it. I suspect we can all (I know I can for sure) do a better job of reminding Satan and this world, he’s lost already. 🙂 Have a blessed week ma’am, and thank you so much for joining in our conversation.

  11. Thank you, J.D. I’m right there with you regarding this heartbreaking issue. Thankful for every in of untouched nature still available. This one deserved a rant.

    Be well, my friend.

    1. Much appreciated Ms. Candyce. In this old guy’s eyes at least, there’s way too much concrete and asphalt and too little green grass and waterfront. I’ll never see a view from a skyrise that can compare the looking over a valley from a mountaintop on a crisp fall day.

  12. I feel your pain, my friend, and I’m sorry for the sadness and loss you feel. Farms in my area are sold to become housing developments as nearby cities expand. It’s painful to watch and see the destruction of fields and forests. But we know God has the ultimate plan. Thank you for caring and for protecting your own part of His creation.

    1. Great point Ms. Katherine. It may seem that we are powerless to stop what is happening to this world, but we are not powerless to what can happen to us, if we’ll only trust and obey my friend. Thank you for the blessing this week.

  13. I’m so sorry, J.D. Colorado Springs is very similar in that it just keeps growing farther and farther east and taking over more and more ranch and farm land. And it’s a dry climate here, so we wonder if all this building is a good idea!

    1. Exactly Ms. Kathy. There’s only so much “take” this old world can stand. And while God gave man dominion over all of it, He also commands us to be good stewards of all He has blessed us with. Not sure we’re doing that my friend.

  14. It’s hard not to look around us and experience all kinds of negative emotions when we see the decay of our society. I constantly must shift my focus to keep from spiraling into despair. Thank God, in him we have hope, and we know a better world awaits. Until then, we continue to let our light shine, and try to lead others to the hope we have. Blessings my friend.

    1. Yes ma’am. The more we focus on “this world”, the deeper in despair we can sink my friend. What a great reminder of in Whom we place our hope. Appreciate the reminder to focus on the “end game” here. God’s blessings ma’am.

  15. I’m thankful you can find hope and point to Christ even as you lament this inevitable “progress,” J.D. Indeed, this world is not our home. I appreciate your urgency to share the good news of Jesus with others. I know you’re doing your part. God bless you!

  16. I feel a little guilty, brother JD. I’ll be one of those north Dallas neighborhoods using that water. Actually, I had no idea that was going on, and I am appalled to learn of it. We get our water from Lake Lavon, but with the huge influx of new residents (many with just green cards) it’s been puzzling where all that needed water will come from. Our traffic has doubled and tripled in just four years, and I’m afraid more crime will follow. Why on earth they plan to build a Universal Studio just five miles away is another puzzle. We can’t support any more people, and especially not theme parks.

    I do like this line: “And while I can’t stop this world from reaching God’s ultimate plan for it, I can pray God uses me to help others find their way out of it.” Yes, that’s our assignment. We are sojourners passing through for now, but such good days are coming, as you know. The millennium is going to be a literal heaven on earth, and I can’t wait to see you there! The earth will be restored to its original natural beauty, and we’ll live under the government of Christ. What glorious days await us in the near future! Here’s a sampling from Isaiah:

    “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:7-9).

    Let’s keep looking up! Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.

    1. Don’t feel guilty at all Ms. Karen. I don’t begrudge anyone for needing water. I’m just not convinced that creating over-populated, under-resourced sierras is the right thing to do. It leads to “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, which means you’re taking from the few to give to the many. That’s the definition and end game of socialism, isn’t it?

      And I agree ma’am, I don’t like where this is headed (when I view things with worldly eyes), but when I look at the things happening with godly eyes, bolstered by His promises in His word, I realize that this is but a “momentary affliction” and is indicative what must happen before His reign begins.

      Let us focus on what will come my friend, not what is now. God’s blessings ma’am.

  17. So much great information in your post today. The world does race towards progress as many run away from Christ. The more progress, the less people think they need God. I’m praying for our world daily. Thanks JD.

    1. Am right there with you Ms. Yvonne. I may lament what is happening in this world today ma’am, but I must also remember that this is not where it ends, but where my world begins. 🙂 God’s blessings my encouraging sister-in-Christ.

  18. J.D., this is so disheartening. I see why this breaks your heart. Many good things are destroyed for the sake of “progress.” Amen to this, “What the world calls progress, God’s word calls deception.” Such a needed message. Thanks for sharing it.

    I fear we have swung the pendulum so far in the name of modern and innovative progress, that we have let the good and wholesome ethics of our pedigree fall from our family trees.

    1. I think you’re right Ms. Karen. We as a nation seem to have forgotten the values and morals that once made us the greatest nation in the world. When we have bankrupted ourselves, how will we ever be able to help others? I think we’re perilously close to going over that edge as a nation my friend. God’s blessings.

  19. J.D., I share your sadness in this. The deception and hypocrisy of what is going on in our world is hard to see. I believe these are birth pangs as we wait for the birth of the new earth.

    1. Yes ma’am. The “end game” that God’s Word promises is worth whatever sadness this world may cause us to feel. I do want to point out though, that my sadness is not for what may be lost (it’s all lost anyway), it’s for all WHO are lost. This world today only seeks to keep them in the darkness of this world. I have to do a better job of shining God’s light so that I am found faithful upon that day my friend. Thank you Ms. Debbie.

  20. I often like to incorporate the scripture’s description of God’s peace: one that surpasses earthly understanding. Right or wrong, I find at times that I simply must turn a blind eye to keep my heart from breaking. I attribute part of this to the aging process. My mother has stopped me mid-sentence from ending a complaint in which I am frustrated. She cannot handle the impact it has upon me because she loves me too much. J.D., it’s hard to see how wrong has become right, how progress has been perverted, and how we fool ourselves into being righteous people through acts of service without nurturing our relationship with God.
    I’m sorry to hear of the unnatural creation of this lake and how it will affect local ranchers. I honestly don’t know how America has any farmers and ranchers left! They have to deal with all of the bureaucracy on top of heavy responsibilities. Let me just offer my gratitude to you and your rancher/farmer friends.

    1. Thank you sweet friend. I’m convinced that this world wants small farmers and ranchers removed. They want large public-private partnerships (P3, they call it) where government and large business join together to control/deliver what they deem best for all. I’m ever-grateful that I am only a sojourner through this world and my journey is nearing its end. God’s blessings ma’am.

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