I AM …

Cross Stitch by Rhonda Lisauckis

The positive on display.

Stubborn

Me: Good morning Holy Spirit! I am perplexed by the way You told Isaiah to deliver a message (chapter 6) that Jesus later quoted in Matthew 13 to explain why He taught in parables.

Isaiah’s Commission

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” 9 He said, “Go, and tell this people:

‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
10 “Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

Jesus’ Explanation

13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
15 For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. 17 For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

Holy Spirit: Good morning Jon! Part of the problem being addressed is willfulness. In your idiom, one might say “he didn’t want to hear it”, or some such expression implying a closed mind or heart. How does that work out in practice? The message being delivered is contrary to the belief or desire of the recipient, so he discounts it entirely.

Jesus taught in parables because they were stories that were easily remembered and contained a somewhat oblique example of the truth that He wanted to teach. This approach at least has a chance of getting past the mental defenses of the willfully disobedient to get some level of consideration. An important aspect of a parable is that it is about someone other than the hearer; it is not a direct challenge to his mistaken beliefs. Nor is is an override of the choice of the individual. He may take it or leave it; spend time musing about it, or not.

You were created with the ability to filter the information you perceive, to categorize, to make judgments as to its value and to remember what you consider important. Control of this process is mostly subconscious and is regulated by your beliefs. Filtering of information was designed to be subconscious. If it were not so, it would increase the burden instead of easing the work the attentive part of the mind must do. Taken together, your beliefs and understanding of your environment is sometimes called your worldview.

Looking inward, people have beliefs about themselves. The same filtering of perceptions takes place related to self and to one’s behavior. For example, if you believe “I’m a good person”, your are less likely to be able to determine if criticism of your behavior is valid than if you believe you are good insofar as you are submitted to the leading of Christ. No one is harder to correct than the person who is completely convinced he is right.

Me: Of course, I believe He is good, and what I do is good if it is of His leading. (Mark 10:18, John 15:5) Still, I recognize that I sometimes have a negative script running in my head. At least I may recognize it if it rises to the level of consciousness or if negative emotions get egregious enough to bring it to the forefront.

Holy Spirit: That is why the scripture tells you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). And you know from the process of learning anything difficult, that takes time and repetition. You should also recognize that as you have submitted to My leading that negativity has greatly diminished over time.

Me: You could remove it in the twinkling of an eye.

Holy Spirit: My way assures that it is obvious that it is your choice.

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love You!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Love Eternal

I am grateful for the love of God.

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. – 1 John 4:10

Me: Good morning Holy Spirit!

Holy Spirit: Good morning Jon!

Me: My gratitude about the love of God is not just that the love of God is affirming. I believe I understand better now that God will not condone the things I do that are not good for me; good for me in the sense of making me better able to carry out my life commission from Him and resulting in the most benefit to me in this life – I can observe this over time – and in the life to come, as I understand His eternal viewpoint. Any understanding I have is because of Your revelation, of course! I am certainly grateful for that!

Holy Spirit: Jesus knew the Father loved Him. He knew also the love of the Father for you. Had he not laid down Our omniscience to become fully man, He would have been able to look down through the generations and feel His own love toward you, specifically. No matter about that, because I revealed it to Him in principle in the same way you conduct yourself in love toward great grandchildren not yet born.

Yet I know you realize, as much as you know, the hard path that Jesus took in carrying out His own life commission, the express plan of God for your salvation. He even said that there is no greater love, than that a man lay down his life for his friends – then ones he is charged with protecting (John 10:11 & 15:13). This plan was from the beginning, as all the scripture testifies. Jesus grew into this love over time, though he arrived in the normal way of men, as a needy infant.

In particular, I want you to see that Jesus did not say, “I will lay down My life for you if you will agree to dedicate yourself to following Me”. No, He laid it down for “whosoever will” (Mark 8:34, Rev 22:17 and many other verses). In these same verses, it is clear that though He did not condition His actions on your response, your benefit – or lack of it – depend upon your choice.

Jesus had a choice as well. It was for love that he wrestled with that decision in the garden, ultimately resigning Himself to serving you in death (Matthew 26:36-46). The death He died, was the one you had accrued to yourself. And do not think I Am speaking only of the physical realm. In this matter, the spiritual realm is supreme for the physical will pass away, but the Spirit is eternal:

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:11-14

Me: Thank You Holy Spirit! I love you!

Holy Spirit: You are welcome! I love you!

Not Random

I am grateful that God is Love.

Love … does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:6-7

The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. – 1 John 4:8

I don’t know how people who have been taught that we are here by mere random chance manage to get out of bed in the morning. One thing about random occurrences (presuming there is such a thing); one can’t predict what is coming, or why (because under that belief system, there is no why). A second thought: random occurrences are impersonal. Also, the concept of personal responsibility is out. In fact, dispensing with personal responsibility before a personal Creator is the very point of this philosophy.

I will take rejoicing, and truth, and forbearance and belief, and hope and endurance over random any day. Thank You Father for making us in Your image so we have the capacity to love!

Technician Work

Our treadmill gave up a few days ago. I took the motor down to the local motor shop for a check-up, mostly because that was easier than reverse-engineering circuit boards (for which I had no schematic). Alas, the motor checked out fine.

Reverse-engineering a circuit board takes patience and careful inspection. Since I do electrical engineering design work for a living, the function of the boards is clear enough, but the circuit details have to be ferreted out the hard way. At my age, that means a magnifier and an Ohmmeter, drawing a schematic as I go. These old through-hole designs are much easier to deal with than modern surface mount circuits. The original designer placed some handy LEDs in the circuit to give indication of various functions for troubleshooting technicians who would have to make a living doing service calls. That was great, because it drastically limited the scope of what I had to trace out. In this case, the PWM LED would blink, so I could tell that the input speed-control signal was good. But there was no output to the motor control board on the wire that is supposed to set the speed of the motor. I was able to measure the forward voltage of all the transistor junctions, except the final opto-coupler output (4N35 / U3). Careful inspection of the white wire that plugs in to HD5 revealed a skinned place where it had gotten trapped between the top of the housing and a heatsink. This short would have easily taken out the optocoupler output circuit.

I ordered a part. The shipping will be much more than the $0.60 part cost. It is way less than the price of a new treadmill, of course. My wife is very attached to this particular one anyway. I am grateful to God that the problem wasn’t more time consuming to discover. You can see from the schematic and this picture of the circuit board that I didn’t have to get anywhere near drawing out the whole thing.

I hope you have enjoyed this temporary nerd-break in the usual fare on missionary sojourn.

Friday Night Update: The UPS guy pulled in behind be when I drove in from work today to deliver the optocoupler that I ordered from Digi-Key. After replacing it, the motor on the the treadmill started doing its normal spinny thing again. My wife is very happy! I’m not just a nerd. I’m a nerd hero!

Iowa Caucus – Monday Night

I used to write a politically-oriented blog because I care deeply about the country that I live in. I care about the Constitution that our founders have left us. I believe the Bill of Rights is an awesome expression of the grace we have enjoyed as a people. I am passionate about trying to help elect those who care about these things too. I care about those who have served in various ways to secure and protect the freedoms that we hold dear. Those traditions go back to the very beginning.

I served six years on active duty in the US Navy myself, longer ago than I usually admit. The “featured image” for today is of one of the ships that I served on during a transit near a typhoon that was churning things up in the western Pacific (photo credit – Ralph Turner) . But I don’t limit my honor to those with military service or to our elected officials, or even to our brave first-responders, who are using their specialized skills and regularly putting their lives on the line on our behalf. As heroic as all those are, who selflessly do these important jobs, I also recognize that the mom and dad who are doing their best to instill a sense of duty and service and love of others into the next generation are also on the front lines doing work that is critical to our survival as a nation.

Today, I spent the afternoon driving around rural Iowa, delivering some last-minute materials that will be used in the caucuses in my Iowa county on Monday night. I hope the turnout is better than the one we saw last year. There was a blizzard, and it was an “off” (non-presidential) year. Perhaps folks wonder, “What difference will it make?” To me, the difference is that I meet with my neighbors and together we show that we care enough to show up. The sacrifices we make to get together are so pale when compared to those who suffered the brutal Winter and supply crisis at Valley Forge (1777-1778) with General Washington. Or how will we compare our time of discussion to the withering fire faced by those who fought their way ashore at Omaha Beach? No, ours seems like a minor contribution. I take it as important in preserving our freedoms for the next generation, none the less.

You might wonder, since this is a passion that I freely own, why I gave up my political blog. The reason is fairly simple, and it was voiced by John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” I came to realize that as a nation, while we must work within our political system to do what we can, our fundamental dilemma is a spiritual one. Our diminishing state of spiritual existence probably helps explain the explosion of laws and bureaucratic regulations that have been passed to try to restrain us. Alas, the long line of legislators that we have had since our founding apparently felt the simple and direct Constitution had to be supplemented. The word “religious” used by Adams may not have exactly the same connotation in our day, as it did in his, but unless we return to our mooring as “one nation under God” as our Pledge of Allegiance has it, we will remain adrift and headed for the shoals of destruction – and all those regulations will not save us.